Have anyone performed a blower door test on a new home that has a multi bi-fold door installed on an exterior wall? (As in NanaWall, Lanai or Sierra Pacific bi-folds). Is there any performance difference if the doors are configured in-swing or out-swing? I'm concerned with air leakage for a tight envelope. Thanks.

NanaWall Bi-fold

Lanai Bi-fold

Sierra Pacific Bi-fold

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I have literally zero experience with this style of door, but it seems like the swing out style with depressurization would work well because you are pulling the path of the door against the resistance of the frame, where as the swing in look to have the tendency to pull in with depressurization.  Good luck and keep us posted.

Thanks for the comment. I've talked to a dozen of raters and none has done a blower door test with these doors. I figured I would find someone here with all the Resnet & BPI members. I'll keep on trying...

Armando,

Those are nice looking doors.  If I were so fortunate as to have this problem, I would pre-fab a wall section to fit securely into the full opening.  Lots of padding and secure and perhaps a built in location for a blower or two.

Bud

Yes they are nice doors... pretty expensive too, but the client wants them AND try to qualify for the highest level at NAHB Green and LEED for Homes, so naturally I'm concerned with air infiltration with a blower door test. Live-n-Learn, eh?

Armando,

 

What is your real question (since you are getting two different sorts of answers...)?

If you are working with a architect, and looking at the probable rating for a house designed with these doors, it may help to surf their web sites. At least one is NFRC rated, which means they conform to NFRC infiltration standards. Time to track down a sales rep and ask for the rating documents.

 

If your question is, "how do I fit a blower door frame in this opening so I can test this house?" -- I can only say "Darned if I know! I'd use a different door!"

Thanks, Don. I'm the residential designer, and I have used these doors in the past, but w/o the blower door testing. I've asked 2 of the manufacturers and still waiting on their answer. I would like to hear form the Raters as well.

I have never tested one of these doors, but I would guess that if there is a thermal break or weatherseal between the leaves(which appears to be the case only with the rail and stile construction design in the aluminum door in the top picture), you will be ok at those locations. The top and bottom may not seal as well due to the need for clearances when operating the door-and the ends (right and left) of each leaf may show the highest leakage points.This may be reduced by building a rabbet across the top, and using a rabbeted threshold across the bottom. Both on the inactive side, of course, and that should be on the interior to reduce both air and water penetration. Clear that with the manufacturer to make sure that the cycle of the door is not obstructed.

Most door manufacturers have architectural details of the designs of their doors. Sometimes you can find them on their website, on a page for architects & designers, or professionals.

Thanks Bruce for the suggestions. I've looked at their websites but no information on BDT and leackage. However, no details show your sugestions, I'll wait a little longer on the manufacturers and see what they have to say.

It'd be nice if the manufacturers could give you some air-infiltration test data to use. There's a spot on the NFRC sticker for air leakage, but apparently very few manufacturers do the testing on their products.

I've tested some lift-and-slide doors, but not the folding units in your photos. I think that the need to maintain ease of operation is going to mean that air-tightness is not that great. 

If you get any actual data from the manufacturers, please post it.

One of the problems we get with all manufacturer's data is that it's usually performed in control environments,,, and it would be nice to know how these doors do in real world. I've taken tours of a half a dozen window companies, but I have not seen any of these doors. I’ll post any information I get from any manufacturer or rater.

Yes, I and unless the door came with an integral frame, I don't see how they would be able to give a reliable result simply due to installation variables.

Here is the only reply I've had from any manufacturer:

A Regional Manager for Sierra Pacific Windows said: “We do not have the report yet, but here is the data from the test lab, for our bi-fold doors. This was forwarded to me by one of our engineers. As I thought (and was hoping) with a standard sill, you should be fine for a blower door test." 

From their Testing facility : “The data sheets show a .20 cfm/ft2 for air infiltration (after adjusting the panels up), a 3.76 psf water and DP 25; overall rating would be a PG25.”

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