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Title: Field Testing of Compartmentalization Methods for Multifamily Construction

The 2012 IECC has an airtightness requirement of 3 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals test pressure for both single-family and multifamily construction in Climate Zones 3-8. Other programs (LEED, ASHRAE 189, ASHRAE 62.2) have similar or tighter compartmentalization requirements, driving the need for easier and more effective methods of compartmentalization in multifamily buildings. Builders and practitioners have found that fire-resistance rated wall assemblies are a major source of difficulty in air sealing/compartmentalization, particularly in townhouse construction. This problem is exacerbated when garages are “tucked in” to the units and living space is located over the garages. In this project, Building Science Corporation examined the taping of exterior sheathing details to improve air sealing results in townhouse and multifamily construction, when coupled with a better understanding of air leakage pathways. Current approaches are cumbersome, expensive, time consuming, and ineffective; these details were proposed as a more effective and efficient method. The effectiveness of these air sealing methods was tested with blower door testing, including “nulled” or “guarded” testing (adjacent units run at equal test pressure to null out inter-unit air leakage, or “pressure neutralization”). Pressure diagnostics were used to evaluate unit-to-unit connections and series leakage pathways (i.e., air leakagemore » from exterior, into the fire-resistance rated wall assembly, and to the interior).« less
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  1. Building Science Corporation, Westford, MA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Building Science Corporation, Westford, MA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Building Technologies Office (EE-5B)
Country of Publication:
United States
residential; Residential Buildings; BSC; Building America; Building Science Corporation; multifamily; comparmentaliation; blower door; blower door testing; air leakage; guarded testing; guarded leakage; nulling; demising wall; area separation wall; fire-resistance rated assembly; fire-resistance rated wall; UL U347; fire wall; rated assembly; rated assemblies