Duct-Sealing Technology Eliminates Leaks at Ultraluxurious Condominiums

March 4, 2013
Using an aerosol sealant to seal ductwork from the inside saved a luxurious condominium complex thousands of dollars in project costs while proving minimally disruptive to residents.

The MuseumHouse is a centerpiece of luxury living located on Toronto’s prestigious Bloor Street West. The 19-story building has 27 luxury condominiums. At $2 million to $12 million apiece, each condo offers residents a stunning panoramic view of the city, a private elevator, a grand terrace, and sparkling glass walls. Until recently, each condo also featured excessively leaky ductwork: in some cases, 300 cfm of leakage per unit.

To pass its performance audit and meet air-handling specifications, Yorkville Corp., the owners of this newly constructed high-rise building, were faced with the prospect of tearing down interior drywall and manually sealing each of the building’s 25 duct systems. Instead, the owners enlisted the help of JW Danforth, a residential and commercial HVAC contracting company based in Tonawanda, N.Y., and the area’s experts on Aeroseal duct-sealing technology. Aeroseal was used to quickly seal the leaky ducts and get the HVAC system working to specification, with no costly renovation required.

The Aeroseal system being put into in place in a unit at the MuseumHouse.

Aeroseal was developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1994. It is the only duct-sealant technology that is applied from the inside of the duct system. It is delivered as a non-toxic aerosol mist that seeks out and plugs leaks. The Department of Energy named Aeroseal technology one of the top 23 most important energy-conservation technologies to be introduced since the department was established.

To prepare for the Aeroseal process, furniture, artwork, and other valuables in the occupied apartments were covered in plastic, and filtration fans were set up to catch any errant sealant particles, minimizing cleanup requirements. Then, the Aeroseal sealant was sprayed throughout the inside of the ductwork. The average time required to seal an apartment, including cleanup, was one day. The average results: 90 percent of duct leakage was eliminated, with air loss in the leakiest units reduced from 300 cfm to 6.5 cfm.

“Aeroseal was the only viable option,” David Hart, project manager, Yorkville Construction, said. “Our only other alternative was to tear down the walls inside each apartment and seal the individual duct systems manually. From a purely monetary standpoint, this approach saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovation costs.”

“Even if we were able to access the ductwork to manually seal the leaks, the design of the building itself would have made the work impossible,” Ken Kwasniak, service operations manager, JW Danforth, said. “The space between the duct system and the surrounding structures left no room to apply sealant on all sides of each joint. The unique supply grilles left little space to reach the leaks typically found there as well. By sealing from inside the ductwork, Aeroseal made us heroes. It allowed us to access all the leaks while leaving the walls and all the beautiful detailing intact.”

Technicians monitor the Aeroseal duct-sealing process in a unit at the MuseumHouse.

“Aeroseal saved The MuseumHouse thousands of dollars in project costs while proving minimally disruptive to its residents,” Neal Walsh, vice president, Aeroseal LLC, said. “It allowed the building engineers to easily get the HVAC system well under legal specifications and will save the condo owners hundreds of dollars each year in utility costs.”