Blower Door Testing of Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) Homes

Infiltration of air through the building envelope is often a major variable in a system’s heating and cooling loads. Air will flow through building elements such as walls, roofs, windows, doors and bathroom and kitchen vents. The choice of wall materials, windows and doors and the quality of construction affect the total leakage area of the envelope. Air flow will depend on an envelope’s leakage area and the pressures generated by winds and buoyancy forces associated with indoor-outdoor temperature differences. These natural forces vary with building location. ICF walls consist of a solid, continuous and seamless unit that suggests tighter construction than framed walls. Infiltration is very difficult to predict and is better estimated with house-specific air tightness tests. Inadequate field tests have been done to evaluate the general potential for reduced air infiltration of ICF homes. MIT in cooperation with Concrete Industry personnel has scheduled air tightness tests of 40 ICF houses across the United States.