A leaky house is significantly less energy efficient than a tightly sealed one. Understanding how to find air leaks in your house, sealing those leaks and scheduling a home energy assessment when needed can help you maintain a comfortable living environment and lower your energy bills.
Detecting Air Leaks from Inside Your Home
Start your air leak inspection on the interior. Here are four effective methods for finding air leaks in your house:
- Conduct|Perform|Carry out} a thorough 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.
- Place your hand near potentially leaky areas on a cold or windy day. If you feel a draft, you’ve found an air leak.
- Perform the smoke test by lighting an incense stick or smoke pen. Then, slowly move it around 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, revealing the leak’s location. The smoke test is most effective when performed on a windy day.
- Use an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to detect temperature differences around your home. These devices help you identify areas with significant temperature variations, which often signify air leaks.
Detecting Air Leaks from Outside Your Home
Examining the exterior structure can also reveal potential leaks. Here are two methods for detecting air leaks from the outside:
- Perform a visual inspection, paying close attention to corners and areas where different materials meet. Look for gaps or cracks that could cause air leaks, as well as deteriorated caulk or weatherstripping and improperly sealed vents and exhaust fans.
- Conduct the garden hose test on a chilly day. This is where someone sprays water from a garden hose onto the 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 entering through the gap.
Sealing Air Leaks
After identifying major air leaks, it’s time to address the issue. Here are the most effective methods 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 high-quality, long-lasting caulk designed for indoor or outdoor use and the specific materials in question to ensure a durable seal. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application and curing time.
- Apply weatherstripping to doors and windows to help them close tightly. Various types of weatherstripping are available, including adhesive-backed foam tape, V-strip and door sweeps. Choose the proper style for your needs and follow the installation guidelines.
- Use expanding foam to fill and seal larger gaps and holes. Expanding foam comes in a can with a spray applicator for easy application in hard-to-reach areas. Wear protective gloves and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe use.
- Add 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 it’s currently lacking.
- Install door sweeps along the bottom of exterior doors to prevent drafts. Door sweeps are available in various materials and styles to suit your needs and aesthetic preferences.
Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment
A home energy assessment is valuable for identifying hidden air leaks and pinpointing areas of improvement. A professional energy auditor performs this inspection, which includes the following:
- A blower door test involves installing a temporary door with a powerful fan over an exterior door opening. The fan pulls air out of 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 more pronounced.
- Infrared imaging helps the energy auditor identify temperature differences in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing hidden air leaks and insulation gaps.
- A combustion safety test ensures your home heating system, water heater and other combustion appliances are operating safely and efficiently, reducing 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 identify additional energy-saving opportunities.
Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment
While performing your own air leak tests is a good starting 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 comprehensive home energy assessment and tailored solutions to boost efficiency and comfort.