Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Room Integrity Testing will be done for 5 reasons ...

The application of a gas suppression system requires that the room space (including the total envelope floor void / ceiling void) are adequately sealed to contain the weight of gas within the space for the required period of time against an allowable leakage rate.

The means to test the room for ‘ tightness ‘ is by the Retrotec Room Integrity Door Fan Pressure Test means. A calibrated and certified axial flow fan is latched into rigid expandable panels that fill the opened door frame space.
By running the calibrated fan at a certain speed thus generating pressure into / from the space, and by monitoring the pressure differential within and external to the room, that flow rate is actually measured, data inputted to software together with the protected height and the weight of gas ( FM200 / FE25 / Novec 1230 or Proinert / Argonite / Inergen Inert Gas, yes inert gas is basically air, but it still has weight!) and a descending interface height hold time, or mixing concentration result is obtained.
If the room is tight enough, then a pass is achieved. If the room is too leaky, then a fail is recorded and the room requires further sealing and a retest until a pass is achieved.
NFPA approved  Fire Professionals  carry out such Room Integrity testing and can offer a remedial sealing and retesting service.
Such testing is required for new build to (a) certificate the room / system, and (b) to certify that indeed the design concentration is reached in the first instance as excessive leakage may be so great as to lose the design concentration during the release period itself.
Testing is required each year to re-certify the room and the gas suppression performance, and may be a requirement of the Clients Insurance Company to revalidate the protection provided to the space.

Why is room integrity testing so important?

As part of ISO 15004, it states that an enclosure must be integrity tested annually when protected by a gaseous fire suppression system or alternatively when alterations are made to the structure of the enclosure e.g. for new cable penetrations.
The performance of any fire suppression system can only be guaranteed when serviced regularly through a professional maintenance solution. We always recommend that room integrity testing should be part of an annual service and maintenance package, to ensure that on discharge, the suppression agent achieves and maintains the correct concentration, at the appropriate height for minimum required timeframe.
Even though blower door and duct testing has been around since the ‘80s, there’s still the occasional question about the necessity of air leakage testing versus just going through with visual inspections

  1. Results give customers faith
    If you are selling a job, it makes sense to test the ducts to give the homeowner an appreciation of the performance they are likely to get out of you versus your competitor.
    If you are testing to Code, don’t new home owners warrant a test to see if their system works?  Would you buy a car that had never been tested?
    Save time by depressurizing.  Pressurizing ducts, the way some codes require, is a really bad idea because it will take twice as long because it makes sealing the registers far more difficult.  You’ll get the same reading whichever direction you test – so if you want to save time, depressurize.
  2. Not all data is created equal
    Multi-point blower door tests do little more than a single point test. In fact, if you take a Baseline reading for 60 seconds and a blower door reading for 60 seconds, the result is likely to be more accurate and repeatable than the multi-point test.  I strongly encourage testing standards to choose one easy and equally accurate test. This should reduce the time to take blower door results to less than half.
    But, first, are blower door readings useful?  Not quite as cost effective as duct testing but reducing house leakage is often the next most cost effective service you can provide.  If you perform a duct leakage test, the two can be combined so you can test duct leakage to outdoors, which negates leakage at the registers and can speed up the test.  If you are doing a blower door test anyway, using it with the DucTester will give you a more meaningful duct leakage to outdoors result because the pressure  is neutralized across the seal you placed on the registers.
  3. Testing creates standards for better buildings
    Products tend to get built to the standard they are tested to and it’s safe to say that a blower door tested enclosure will typically be at least 30% tighter than one that isn’t. This translates into at least a 5% energy saving over the life of the building - to say nothing of reducing indoor pressure imbalances and moisture deposition. If a house is built to a blower door test standard, not only will it save the most on energy, it will also ensure the structure’s health and longevity.
  4. Saves auditors’ time and homeowners’ money by clearly showing which upgrades are most effective
    Replacing recessed lighting, upgrading insulation, adding weather-stripping – these are all easy energy fixes. What testing offers is a way to not only see where leaks are, but to determine the best “bang for your buck.” Although you could spend time sealing in the living space, three attic bypasses could be responsible for 25% of the houses total leakage and take only a few minutes to seal.
  5. Drives homeowners to invest in your services
    Testing gives homeowners a way of measuring the success of their investment in your services. Blower door testing offers an objective measure of an audit, something clients will appreciate when considering an energy audit and while acting on its results.
Yes, it is possible to repair the usual suspect areas without testing, but overall we will go back to terribly performing houses as soon as we stop testing them.  Products are built as well as required tests need them to be. I have seen an average new home duct leakage go from about 200 CFM leakage down to about 25 CFM after the installer started testing.

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