Draft - "House of Pressure" Simulation: Understanding Home Ventilation, Air Leakage, and Combustion Safety

10 modules


Mike Barcik

11 Mar 2021



This one-hour course includes video content, a downloadable study guide to be completed during the course, and a final quiz. Upon successful completion of this course, participants are will receive a certificate approved for CEUs from AIA, BPI, and ICC.

In this course, Southface Technical Principal Mike Barcik provides a video demonstration of the Southface "House of Pressure" (HoP) simulator. This special equipment allows learners to see how a leaky house or duct system can waste energy and create potential health and safety hazards due to backdrafting in the combustion appliance zone (CAZ) or other sources of unwanted air. In addition, participants will learn simple ways to diagnose and address ventilation and air-leakage problems in the residential setting. 

The HoP is a life-size cutaway model of a "typical" house and includes various simulated zones such as a living room, bedroom, bath, attic/crawl, and kitchen, as well as actual combustion appliances (water heater and furnace), heat exchanger and cooling coils, exhaust flues, and a duct system. The simulator also has built-in analog pressure gauges and a number of vents used to simulate various conditions. Theatrical fog is used to provide a visual understanding of how air and fumes move under different conditions.

(Special thanks to Vertical River for video production.)


Upon completion of this course and final quiz, participants will be able to:

  • Identify the dangers of backdrafting and other issues related to the combustion appliance zone (CAZ) and HVAC system in a house.
  • Explain how everyday practices such as closing an interior door or turning on an exhaust fan can affect air pressure, airflow, and indoor air quality in a house. 
  • Identify the basic principles that govern air movement and pressure changes in a house
  • Identify basic methods for diagnosing duct leakage problems based on air pressure changes in a house. (Access to a pressure gauge is needed for actual practice.)
  • Explain why and how air leakage or poor ventilation strategies can cause combustion appliances to backdraft, drawing harmful gases into the living space.
  • Identify solutions for addressing ventilation and airflow issues in a house.



By completing/passing this course, you will attain the certificate House of Pressure Certificate

Learning Credits

House of Pressure Study Guide
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Leaky House Simulation
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Exhaust Appliances in a "Standard" House
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HVAC Return Leak
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HVAC Airflow and Return Path Problems
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Diagnosing Duct Leakage
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Miniature House of Pressure Simulations
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House of Pressure Final Quiz
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