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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Quantification of air leakage paths: a comparison of airflow and acoustic measurements


Today, the fan pressurization method is the most frequently used method to evaluate a building's airtightness. However, the localization and quantification of leaks remain difficult. In this paper, an acoustic method is introduced to estimate the leakage size of single leaks. Acoustic and airflow measurements were conducted and compared in laboratory tests within the same boundary conditions. This work aims to investigate if various leak sizes can be predicted using acoustic measurement methods. The test apparatus consists of two chambers, separated by a test wall. This wall represents a single characteristic air leakage path. Various types of wall structures with different slit geometries, wall thicknesses, and insulation materials were investigated. The acoustic measurements were performed with a sound source placed in one chamber and ultrasonic microphones located in both chambers. These results were compared to measured airflows through the test wall to provide estimates of uncertainty in the acoustic approach, which indicate a linear trend. Finally, these laboratory measurements were compared to the same measurements at a real office building. Although the acoustic measurement uncertainty is still significant (greater than +/- 50%), the acoustic method has the potential to give an order of magnitude of single leak sizes.

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