This study contributes to the development of quantifying and understanding building air tightness as it relates to Toronto semi-detached and row homes, particularly party walls. While infiltration characteristics of single family detached homes have been widely developed and understood, the isolation of semi-detached and row home single family dwelling units is relatively unexplored. When quantifying air leakage in a building attached to an adjacent dwelling unit, air is drawn
through the exterior envelope as well as the party wall (i.e. shared common wall). The purpose of the proposed testing method, guarded blower door testing, is to isolate air leakage through the party wall from the envelope. Currently the party wall is considered a fire-rated assembly but is not part of the air barrier system. Issues associated with party wall air leakage include spread of fire, indoor air quality, transfer of tobacco smoke between dwellings, and heat loss through the
party to attic detail. Data collected on buildings constructed between 1890 and 1920 (Century buildings) has been compared to the data collected on buildings constructed between 2012 to 2017 (new buildings). Air leakage has been collected on twenty-six of Century semi-detached homes with solid masonry construction and twenty-one new semi-detached/row homes of lightweight wood frame construction. Each unit was tested independently and simultaneously, or “guarded”, with the adjacent unit, to pressure neutralize allowing for quantification of envelope and party wall air leakage. Party wall leakage was found to be similar to leakage through the exterior walls. The leakage accounted for 22% of the total infiltration in Century old buildings and 38% in Modern dwellings.