Easy Ways to Detect Air Leaks in Your Home

A leaky house is significantly less energy efficient than a tightly sealed one. Being familiar with how to uncover 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 methods for looking for air leaks in your house:

  • Conduct a thorough visual inspection, looking for gaps and cracks on or near windows, doors, electrical outlets and baseboards. Pay particular attention to the corners of rooms, as gaps can often be found there.
  • Hold your hand close to potentially leaky places on a cold or windy day. If you sense a draft, you’ve uncovered 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 toward the gap, revealing the site of the leak. The smoke test is more effective when conducted on a windy day.
  • Use an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to find temperature differences in your home. These devices help you detect areas with sizeable temperature variations, which often are caused by air leaks.

Detecting Air Leaks from Outside Your Home

Examining the exterior structure can also uncover potential leaks. Here are two methods for detecting air leaks from the outside:

  • Perform a visual assessment, paying close attention to corners and areas where different materials meet. Hunt for gaps or cracks that could cause air leaks, as well as deteriorated caulk or weatherstripping and poorly 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 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 identifying serious air leaks, it’s time to address the issue. Here are the most beneficial 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 leaking out. 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 details for the best application and curing time.
  • Apply weatherstripping to doors and windows to help them close tightly. A variety of  of weatherstripping are on the market, including adhesive-backed foam tape, V-strip and door sweeps. Pick the appropriate style for your needs and follow the installation instructions.
  • Use expanding foam to fill and seal more substantial gaps and holes. Expanding foam comes in a can with a spray applicator for simple application in hard-to-reach spots. Wear protective gloves and stick to the manufacturer’s directions to make sure you use them carefully.
  • Install 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 your current level is inadequate.
  • Install door sweeps along the bottom of external doors to prevent drafts. Door sweeps are available in various materials and models to meet your desires and aesthetic preferences.

Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

A home energy assessment is useful for finding sneaky air leaks and identifying areas of improvement. A professional energy auditor carries out this inspection, which includes 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 inside 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 differences in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing hidden air leaks and insulation deficiencies.
  • A combustion safety test ensures 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 looks at your energy usage habits, home maintenance history and comfort challenges to spot additional energy-saving options.

Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

While carrying out your own air leak tests is a great jumping off 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 a detailed home energy assessment and customized solutions to enhance performance and comfort.

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