A leaky house is significantly less energy efficient than a correctly sealed one. Understanding how to detect air leaks in your house, sealing those leaks and scheduling a home energy assessment when needed can help you create a comfortable living environment and decrease your energy bills.
Detecting Air Leaks from Inside Your Home
Initiate your air leak inspection on the interior. Here are four effective ways for finding air leaks in your house:
- Conduct|Perform|Carry out]13] a thorough visual inspection, looking for gaps and cracks in and around windows, doors, electrical outlets and baseboards. Pay extra attention to the corners of rooms, as gaps can frequently be found there.
- Hold your hand near potentially leaky places on a cold or windy day. If you believe there is a draft, you’ve discovered an air leak.
- Perform the 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 into the gap, exposing the location of a leak. The smoke test is best at finding leaks when done on a windy day.
- Use an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to identify temperature differences in the different areas of your home. These devices help you detect areas with sizeable temperature variations, which often indicate air leaks.
Detecting Air Leaks from Outside Your Home
Inspecting the exterior structure can also reveal potential leaks. Here are two tips for finding air leaks from the outside:
- Do a visual inspection, paying close attention to corners and locations where different materials meet. Hunt for gaps or cracks that could cause air leaks, as well as worn 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 building's exterior while another person stands inside where there is a suspected air leak. If there’s a leak, the person inside should feel cold air or moisture entering through the gap.
Sealing Air Leaks
After finding significant air leaks, it’s time to handle the issue. Here are the best 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 escaping. Choose a top-quality, long-lasting caulk developed for indoor or outdoor use and the specific materials you are trying to seal to ensure a durable seal. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best application and curing time.
- Apply weatherstripping to doors and windows to help them close tightly. Various types of weatherstripping are on the market, including adhesive-backed foam tape, V-strip and door sweeps. Pick the correct style for your needs and follow the installation guidelines.
- Use expanding foam to fill and seal bigger gaps and holes. Expanding foam is available in a can with a spray applicator for quick application in hard-to-reach places. Wear protective gloves and stick to the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure safe use.
- Apply insulation to newly sealed walls and attic floors to further cut down on 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 exterior doors to prevent drafts. Door sweeps are made in various materials and designs to suit your desires and aesthetic preferences.
Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment
A home energy assessment is invaluable for identifying concealed air leaks and identifying areas of improvement. A professional energy auditor carries out this inspection, which involves the following:
- A blower door test includes installing a temporary door with a powerful fan over an exterior door opening. The fan pulls air from the house, lowering the indoor air pressure and pulling 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 inconsistencies in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing hidden air leaks and insulation inadequacies.
- 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 obstacles to spot additional energy-saving opportunities.
Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment
While performing your own air leak tests is a great launching point, working 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 tailored solutions to maximize efficiency and comfort.