A leaky house is considerably less energy efficient than a correctly sealed one. Understanding how to find air leaks in your house, sealing those leaks and scheduling a home energy assessment when warranted can help you maintain a comfortable living environment and reduce your energy bills.
Detecting Air Leaks from Inside Your Home
Begin your air leak inspection on the inside of your home. Here are four reliable ways for finding air leaks in your house:
- Conduct|Perform|Carry out]13] a comprehensive visual inspection, looking for gaps and cracks around windows, doors, electrical outlets and baseboards. Pay special attention to the corners of rooms, as gaps can often be found there.
- Put your hand around potentially leaky areas on a cold or windy day. If you believe there is a draft, you’ve discovered 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 trouble spots. If an air leak is present, the smoke will blow around or get sucked toward the gap, showing the location of a leak. The smoke test is more effective when conducted on a windy day.
- Employ an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to identify temperature differences in your home. These tools help you detect locations with significant temperature variations, which often are caused by air leaks.
Detecting Air Leaks from Outside Your Home
Inspecting the outer structure can also reveal potential leaks. Here are two tips for finding air leaks from the outside:
- Perform a visual inspection, paying close attention to corners and locations where different materials meet. Hunt for gaps or cracks that could create air leaks, as well as damaged caulk or weatherstripping and improperly sealed vents and exhaust fans.
- Perform the garden hose test on a colder day. This is where someone sprays water from a garden hose onto the building's exterior while another person stands inside near a suspected air leak. If there’s a leak, the person inside should feel cold air or moisture coming through the gap.
Sealing Air Leaks
After identifying major air leaks, it’s time to handle the issue. Here are the most effective ways to seal 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 high-quality, long-lasting caulk designed for indoor or outdoor use and the specific materials you are trying to seal to ensure a durable seal. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for proper application and curing time.
- Apply weatherstripping to doors and windows to help them close tightly. Various types of weatherstripping are available, examples include adhesive-backed foam tape, V-strip and door sweeps. Pick the proper style for your needs and follow the installation recommendations.
- Use expanding foam to fill and seal bigger gaps and holes. Expanding foam is sold in a can with a spray applicator for easy application in hard-to-reach areas. Wear protective gloves and adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines to make sure you use them carefully.
- Add insulation to newly sealed walls and attic floors to further reduce heat transfer. Whether or not you already have some insulation, consider upgrading to a higher R-value or adding more insulation where you need more.
- Put door sweeps along the bottom of external doors to stop drafts. Door sweeps are offered in various materials and styles to suit your requirements and aesthetic preferences.
Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment
A home energy assessment is useful for spotting sneaky air leaks and locating areas of improvement. A professional energy auditor does this inspection, which includes 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 away from the house, lowering the indoor 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 locate temperature discrepancies in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing hidden 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, reducing the risk of potentially deadly carbon monoxide buildup.
- A homeowner interview is when the energy auditor discusses your energy usage habits, home maintenance history and comfort issues to identify additional energy-saving opportunities.
Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment
While doing your own air leak tests is a good launching point, partnering with a professional is far more thorough. Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can help you improve your home’s air tightness with a detailed home energy assessment and customized solutions to enhance effectiveness and comfort.