Always on the forefront of rules and regulations that impact new and existing homes, California Building Standards are an ever changing challenge for home builders in this state. One thing, however, never changes – consumers LOVE fireplaces in their homes. According to the National Association of Realtors, fireplaces and hearth products are in homeowners’ top three ‘must haves’ when searching for a new home or when planning to build their own.

Since 2009, California has been committed to reducing energy use in existing buildings as quickly as possible. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), the fireplace industries’ trade association, is gathering data to determine the best way for fireplaces to do their part in existing homes to conserve energy. We are conducting a research project, called a blower door test, to quantify the energy savings when using gas inserts in existing homes.

This blower door test will be performed on homes that have already purchased a gas insert for their open fireplace. A ‘blower door’ is a machine used to measure the airtightness of buildings. It can also be used to measure airflow between building zones to test ductwork airtightness and to help physically locate air leakage sites in the building envelope. This research project will test both before and after the inset is installed to measure the reduction in air leakage.

The test will be done without the insert in the fireplace and after the insert has been installed. Want to know more about a blower door test? Click here to check out one in action.

Participating in this research project is completely voluntary. However, there is a form that MUST be filled out when the testing is being done. Some information you will have and some information will be filled out by the home pressurization company. To qualify for the $600 rebate, HPBA Pacific will need the following documents:

  • Completed Home Pressurization Questionnaire. Download a copy here.
  • A copy of the invoice for that particular job must be consistent with the contact and address information that is noted on the questionnaire.

A signed affidavit stating that the fireplace was sealed, all the way to the top, with your signature and contact details. This affidavit can be downloaded here.

Be sure to download the Installation Protocol for House Pressurization Tests here.


Below are more facts about this project and the usefulness to the hearth industry.


The The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, the HPBA Pacific Affiliate, and The Southern California Gas Company.


A research project to quantify the reduction of infiltration in existing homes in California when a gas hearth product is inserted into an open fireplace.


This research project will take place in winter of 2015 and be completed spring of 2016.


Data will be collected throughout the state of California in different climate zones and in homes of different ages.


HPBA is collecting data that could be used in future Building Codes that could affect energy efficiency upgrades for homeowners when they sell their homes.


Blower door testing will be done on homes that qualify through selected dealers in the state of California in various climate zones. Age of the home is also taken into account. The blower door test will take place before the insert is put in and after the insert is installed to measure the airtightness, and therefore energy savings with these units.

Who will contact me about the blower door test?

Your local dealer will set up the test with the blower door tester. As the consumer, you wont need to be home to get the test done.

Who does the dealer call to schedule the before and after tests?

The dealer will call the HPBA Pacific to schedule tests. HPBA has contracted with several testing companies to perform these tests in a professional and timely manner.

How quickly can the tests be scheduled typically?

Typically within a few days. There may be times where it may be a week out. Once HPBA Pacific introduces the dealer to the tester, HPBA Pacific lets you two communicate on the best date and time to get this completed.

How long do the tests take? Could they be done the same day as the installation, before and after the work is done? Do the testers waits or make a second trip to do the “after” test?

We do NOT want the tester to make trips on two different days. The tests should be done on the same day. We realize that in special cases, there may need to be tests done on different days but we would suggest not doing this. Many dealers know the range of time it is going to take to do the work on installing the insert. This time range should be discussed between the dealer and the tester.

How do the testers get paid? What is the procedure?

HPBA Pacific will be paying the tester. No testing invoices go direct to the dealers.

How do the customers (and now dealers?) get their compensation? What is the procedure?

Dealers will be paid within 30 days of completing and submitting three documents to HPBA Pacific – Home Pressurization questionnaire, Copy of the work order or invoice, and invoice for the $600 and $400 for both the dealers and consumers time, and an affidavit signed by the dealer.

How are the test results processed?

The test results are shared with our consultant who is working on behalf of HPBA to gather this data. Personal information about either the homeowner or dealer is not disclosed to anyone or sold to anyone at anytime.

For more information about this test contact John Crouch at crouch@hpba.org or Kaity Rosengren at kaity@hpbapacific.org.