Avalon Elementary School

TYPE: Education

High Performance Equipment Not Delivering Results Due to Duct Leakage

When the new $60 million dollar elementary school first opened its doors, everyone was excited and pleased. The modern classrooms and energy-efficient building were sources of pride and joy for the Maryland-area school district. However, it wasn’t far into the first winter season that school administrators recognized there was a significant HVAC problem.

“The new building was designed with an energy-efficient heating system that wasn’t delivering [air] as it should,” said Ted Thornton, project manager at Coakley & Williams Construction. “We did some testing, and it turned out that the advanced 15,000 CFM [HVAC] system was losing nearly 25% of the treated air through leaks in the ductwork. In essence we had a Lamborghini-quality HVAC system riding around with used hubcaps, as far as the ductwork was concerned.” Long story short, the school administration decided to seal the ductwork with Aeroseal, and it was a tremendous success!

Project Overview
Building Avalon Elementary School
Location Fort Washington, Maryland
Aeroseal Contractors Air Duct Maids
Contract Engineer Coakley & Williams
Goal Fix heating issues in the school building during winter; Recover treated air leaking out of air ducts before it reaches intended spaces
Before Aeroseal 3,731 CFM of leakage
After Aeroseal 385 CFM of leakage
Results Improved the building’s heating system performance during the cold winter by sealing the air ducts with Aeroseal and achieved 90% reduction of leakage

Our research showed that Aeroseal was used in a number of high-profile projects including other schools, hospitals and laboratories where safety is of paramount concern. So we felt confident that it was entirely safe to use here as well. The process itself went smoothly and the technology met all of our expectations.

Ted Thornton
General Contractor
Coakley & Williams Constructions

Prior to duct sealing, the school’s administrative offices and many of its classrooms were simply too cold for comfort during the winter no matter how high the thermostat was set.

When Coakley & Williams went back to the subcontractors that did the initial ductwork, they found the company was no longer in business. That put the burden of fixing the problem squarely back in their own court. They needed to find a solution that worked – and one that didn’t break the bank.

“The more I researched, the more I learned about other public buildings that had successfully used Aeroseal to solve similar [HVAC] issues,” said Thornton. “These included prestigious hospitals, laboratories and other education facilities, so I knew it had to be safe as well.”

A quick Google search led Thornton to Air Duct Maids of Northern Virginia, a licensed Aeroseal dealer. A few days later, this team of Aeroseal pros began sealing the elementary school’s main duct system.

“There was a time crunch issue, and one of the advantages of Aeroseal was that the process is fast and could be done without disrupting normal school operations,” said Air Duct Maids’ Jesse Watkins. “We began work at 3:00pm, right after school let out. We planned for a five-day project but were able to knock it out in only three.”


In the end, Watkins and his team were able to reduce duct leakage from 3,731 CFM to around 385 CFM – a 90% reduction and well below the 10% leakage rate required by the heating system.

“The entire process went smoothly and we look forward to seeing its effect on [HVAC] performance this winter,” said Thornton.

“No matter how you look at it, it was a success,” said Watkins. “We were able to get the geothermal (HVAC) system working efficiently, and it will now deliver heat to every room and office in the school building. Once more people find out about Aeroseal, it’s going to become more than just a mistake fixer – it’s going to become the standard for sealing,” said Watkins. “The bottom line…Aeroseal is the way of the future.”

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