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Easy Ways to Detect Air Leaks in Your Home

A leaky house is considerably less energy efficient than a tightly sealed one. Knowing how to uncover 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

Begin your air leak inspection on the inside of your home. Here are four successful techniques for looking for air leaks in your house:

  • Conduct a comprehensive visual inspection, looking for gaps and cracks in and around windows, doors, electrical outlets and baseboards. Pay particular attention to the corners of rooms, as gaps can frequently be found there.
  • Hold your hand near potentially leaky locations on a cold or windy day. If you sense 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 leaky areas. If an air leak is present, the smoke will blow around or get sucked toward the gap, showing the site of the leak. The smoke test is more effective when performed on a windy day.
  • Employ an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to detect temperature differences in your home. These devices help you identify areas with significant temperature variations, which often are caused by air leaks.

Detecting Air Leaks from Outside Your Home

Studying the outer structure can also expose potential leaks. Here are two strategies for finding air leaks from the outside:

  • Do a visual inspection, paying close attention to corners and areas where different materials meet. Search for gaps or cracks that could create air leaks, as well as damaged 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 exterior while another person stands inside close to a suspected air leak. If there’s a leak, the person inside really should feel cold air or moisture coming through the gap.

Sealing Air Leaks

After finding serious air leaks, it’s time to deal with the issue. Here are the most effective strategies 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. Choose a top-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 instructions for proper application and curing time.
  • Apply weatherstripping to doors and windows to help them close tightly. A variety of  of weatherstripping are available, including adhesive-backed foam tape, V-strip and door sweeps. Pick the correct style for your needs and follow the installation recommendations.
  • Use expanding foam to fill and seal more substantial gaps and holes. Expanding foam is sold in a can with a spray applicator for easy application in hard-to-reach spots. Wear protective gloves and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe use.
  • Apply insulation to newly sealed walls and attic floors to further minimize 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 outside doors to prevent drafts. Door sweeps are made in various materials and models to fit your needs and aesthetic preferences.

Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

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

  • A blower door test involves putting in a temporary door with a strong fan over an exterior door opening. The fan pulls air out of the house, lowering the interior air pressure and sucking outside air through unsealed openings. This test measures your home’s air tightness and makes thermal camera images show leaks more clearly.
  • Infrared imaging helps the energy auditor detect temperature inconsistencies in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing hidden air leaks and insulation deficiencies.
  • A combustion safety test makes sure your home heating system, water heater and other combustion appliances are operating safely and correctly, 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 spot additional energy-saving options.

Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

While doing your own air leak tests is a good starting 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 comprehensive home energy assessment and personalized solutions to boost performance and comfort.

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