Archive for September, 2017

Air Blower
More smoke
The Ship Light

Passive House pre-test happened this week at 158 Clifton. David White, Grayson Jordan of Castrucci Architect, Jim Hartin and the crew of Blueline Construction looked to meet the Passive House Institute (PHI) tightness threshold; measured by the decisive Air Blower test. The retro-fit started over a couple of years back, with an 1887 wooden row house – “…in as bad of shape as I’ve ever seen”, related construction veteran Hartin. The project doubled down with an unlikely new building envelope –  two thousand year old Redwood windows, Worcestershire Sauce wooden tank facade cladding, and the trampled planks of the Coney Island Boardwalk as a perforated rain screen on the back.

David White, attaching a space age Air Blower to the parlor window; and utilizing a pen sized smoke sensor and European Allen wrench, proceeded with the energy test . At the outset, the house hovered 40 CFM’s over the target, with certification numbers remaining out of reach throughout the day. But the team chipped away at the high leakage reading by sealing microscopic leaks in window and door seams, ducts, electrical penetrations and consequential but previously undetected spots of energy loss. Even if a score came up short, the process was witness to the value of certification. But the final result was pass.


Air leakage in the windows is now the main theory behind a drop in energy performance here at the end of the Passive House construction in Brooklyn. A small specialized tool may be the answer. A kind of modified Allen wrench, it helps to tighten the gaskets that surround the wooden windows. The millenial old Redwood – discolored, finger-jointed and plugged in areas – still seems to be holding firm.

Surprised to discover the blower door numbers had jumped higher from earlier reading, and outside of the passing zone. Troubleshooting underway at Sawkill Passive House. Investigation into the leaks, as they say these days, is the windows. A small but critical adjustment tool could be key.