Easy Ways to Detect Air Leaks in Your Home

A leaky house is dramatically less energy efficient than a properly sealed one. Being familiar with how to uncover air leaks in your house, sealing those leaks and scheduling a home energy assessment when necessary can help you create a comfy living environment and reduce your energy bills.

Detecting Air Leaks from Inside Your Home

Initiate your air leak inspection on the inside. Here are four effective ways for finding air leaks in your house:

  • Carry out 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.
  • Hold your hand close to potentially leaky places on a cold or windy day. If you sense a draft, you’ve discovered an air leak.
  • Complete a smoke test by lighting an incense stick or smoke pen. Then, slowly move it near the edges of windows, doors and other potential leaky areas. If an air leak is occurring in this location, the smoke will blow around or get sucked through the gap, exposing the site of the leak. The smoke test is most effective when conducted on a windy day.
  • Use an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to detect temperature differences in your home. These devices help you identify sections of your home with major temperature variations, which often signify air leaks.

Detecting Air Leaks from Outside Your Home

Studying the outer structure can also uncover potential leaks. Here are two tips for detecting air leaks from the outside:

  • Do a visual assessment, paying close attention to corners and areas where different materials meet. Hunt for gaps or cracks that could create air leaks, as well as worn caulk or weatherstripping and incorrectly sealed vents and exhaust fans.
  • Do the garden hose test on a cool 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 really should feel cold air or moisture getting into through the gap.

Sealing Air Leaks

After finding major air leaks, it’s time to deal with the issue. Here are the most effective methods for sealing air leaks in your home:

  • Apply caulk to seal small gaps and cracks around windows, doors and other areas where air is escaping. Select a high-quality, long-lasting caulk designed for indoor or outdoor use and the specific materials you’re using 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. A variety of  of weatherstripping are sold in stores, including adhesive-backed foam tape, V-strip and door sweeps. Choose the ideal style for your needs and follow the installation instructions.
  • Use expanding foam to fill and seal larger 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 stick to the manufacturer’s guidelines to make sure you stay safe.
  • Apply insulation to newly sealed walls and attic floors to further cut down on heat transfer. Even if you already have some insulation, consider upgrading to a higher R-value or adding more insulation where your current level is inadequate.
  • Add door sweeps along the bottom of outside doors to prevent drafts. Door sweeps are made in various materials and models to meet your requirements and aesthetic preferences.

Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

A home energy assessment is useful for finding concealed air leaks and identifying areas of improvement. A professional energy auditor performs this inspection, which includes the following:

  • A blower door test includes putting in a temporary door with a sturdy fan over an exterior door opening. The fan pulls air from the house, lowering the interior 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 locate temperature differences in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing unseen air leaks and insulation inadequacies.
  • A combustion safety test makes certain your home heating system, water heater and other combustion appliances are operating safely and efficiently, decreasing the risk of potentially dangerous carbon monoxide buildup.
  • A homeowner interview is when the energy auditor analyzes 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, 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 customized solutions to maximize performance and comfort.

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