Easy Ways to Detect Air Leaks in Your Home

A leaky house is dramatically less energy efficient than a tightly sealed one. Understanding how to uncover air leaks in your house, sealing those leaks and scheduling a home energy assessment when warranted can help you maintain a relaxing living environment and decrease your energy bills.

Detecting Air Leaks from Inside Your Home

Start your air leak inspection on the interior. Here are four reliable techniques for looking for air leaks in your house:

  • Conduct a comprehensive 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 frequently be found there.
  • Hold your hand around potentially leaky areas on a cold or windy day. If you believe there is 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 problem areas. If an air leak is occurring in this location, the smoke will blow around or get sucked through the gap, revealing the leak’s location. The smoke test is best at finding leaks when done on a windy day.
  • Utilize an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to identify temperature differences in the different areas of your home. This equipment will help you identify sections of your home 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 tips for finding air leaks from the outside:

  • Perform a visual inspection, paying close attention to corners and locations where different materials meet. Search for gaps or cracks that could lead to air leaks, as well as damaged caulk or weatherstripping and poorly sealed vents and exhaust fans.
  • Perform 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 near a suspected air leak. If there’s a leak, the person inside really should feel cold air or moisture entering through the gap.

Sealing Air Leaks

After identifying serious air leaks, it’s time to address 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 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 correct 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. Select the proper style for your needs and follow the installation recommendations.
  • Use expanding foam to fill and seal larger gaps and holes. Expanding foam is sold in a can with a spray applicator for simple application in hard-to-reach areas. Wear protective gloves and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions 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 you need more.
  • Add door sweeps along the bottom of outside doors to restrict drafts. Door sweeps are offered in various materials and designs to meet your requirements and aesthetic preferences.

Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

A home energy assessment is invaluable for identifying sneaky air leaks and identifying areas of improvement. A professional energy auditor performs this inspection, which consists of the following:

  • A blower door test entails installing a temporary door with a sturdy 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 inconsistencies in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing invisible air leaks and insulation inadequacies.
  • 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 discusses your energy usage habits, home maintenance history and comfort challenges to spot additional energy-saving options.

Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

While performing your own air leak tests is an excellent 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 boost efficiency and comfort.

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