A leaky house is dramatically less energy efficient than a tightly sealed one. Knowing how to find air leaks in your house, sealing those leaks and scheduling a home energy assessment when warranted can help you create a comfortable living environment and reduce your energy bills.
Detecting Air Leaks from Inside Your Home
Begin your air leak inspection on the inside. Here are four effective methods for locating air leaks in your house:
- Conduct|Perform|Carry out]13] a comprehensive visual inspection, looking for gaps and cracks in and around windows, doors, electrical outlets and baseboards. Pay extra attention to the corners of rooms, given that gaps can commonly be found there.
- Place your hand around potentially leaky areas on a cold or windy day. If you believe there is a draft, you’ve found an air leak.
- Do a smoke test by lighting an incense stick or smoke pen. Then, slowly move it near the edges of windows, doors and other potential problem areas. If an air leak is occurring in this location, the smoke will blow around or get sucked through the gap, revealing the leak’s location. The smoke test is best at finding leaks when done on a windy day.
- Use an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to detect temperature differences in your home. This equipment will help you detect locations with significant temperature variations, which often indicate air leaks.
Detecting Air Leaks from Outside Your Home
Examining the home's outdoor structure can also expose potential leaks. Here are two methods for detecting air leaks from the outside:
- Conduct a visual inspection, paying close attention to corners and areas where different materials meet. Hunt for gaps or cracks that could cause air leaks, as well as deteriorated caulk or weatherstripping and incorrectly sealed vents and exhaust fans.
- Do the garden hose test on a colder day. This is where someone sprays water from a garden hose onto the exterior while another person stands inside close to a suspected air leak. If there’s a leak, the person inside will more than likely feel cold air or moisture getting into through the gap.
Sealing Air Leaks
After identifying serious air leaks, it’s time to deal with the issue. Here are the most effective strategies for sealing air leaks in your home:
- Use caulk to seal small gaps and cracks around windows, doors and other areas where air is getting out of the home. Choose a quality, long-lasting caulk intended for indoor or outdoor use and the specific materials you're using to ensure a durable seal. Follow the manufacturer’s details for proper application and curing time.
- Apply weatherstripping to doors and windows to help them close tightly. A variety of of weatherstripping are sold in stores, such as adhesive-backed foam tape, V-strip and door sweeps. Choose the ideal style for your needs and follow the installation guidelines.
- Use expanding foam to fill and seal larger gaps and holes. Expanding foam is available in a can with a spray applicator for simple application in hard-to-reach spots. Wear protective gloves and stick to the manufacturer’s directions to make sure you stay safe.
- Install insulation to newly sealed walls and attic floors to further reduce heat transfer. Even if you already have some insulation, consider upgrading to a higher R-value or adding more insulation where you need more.
- Install door sweeps along the bottom of exterior doors to prevent drafts. Door sweeps are sold in various materials and designs to suit your needs and aesthetic preferences.
Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment
A home energy assessment is useful for identifying concealed air leaks and pinpointing areas of improvement. A professional energy auditor performs this inspection, which consists of the following:
- A blower door test involves putting in a temporary door with a sturdy fan over an exterior door opening. The fan pulls air from the house, lowering the inside air pressure and drawing in outside air through unsealed openings. This test measures your home’s air tightness and makes thermal camera images easier to read.
- Infrared imaging helps the energy auditor detect temperature discrepancies in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing invisible air leaks and insulation gaps.
- A combustion safety test makes sure your home heating system, water heater and other combustion appliances are operating safely and effectively, lowering the risk of potentially dangerous carbon monoxide buildup.
- A homeowner interview is when the energy auditor discusses your energy usage habits, home maintenance history and comfort issues to spot additional energy-saving opportunities.
Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment
While performing your own air leak tests is a good jumping off point, talking everything over with a professional is far more thorough. Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can help you improve your home’s air tightness with an extensive home energy assessment and tailored solutions to maximize effectiveness and comfort.