Easy Ways to Detect Air Leaks in Your Home

A leaky house is considerably less energy efficient than a correctly sealed one. Being familiar with how to detect air leaks in your house, sealing those leaks and scheduling a home energy assessment when needed can help you establish a cozy living environment and lower your energy bills.

Detecting Air Leaks from Inside Your Home

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

  • Perform a thorough visual inspection, looking for gaps and cracks in and around windows, doors, electrical outlets and baseboards. Pay special attention to the corners of rooms, given that gaps can frequently be found there.
  • Put your hand near potentially leaky locations on a cold or windy day. If you sense a draft, you’ve discovered 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 exists, the smoke will blow around or get sucked through the gap, revealing the site of the leak. The smoke test is best at finding leaks when done on a windy day.
  • Use an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to find temperature differences in your home. These tools help you identify locations with significant temperature variations, which often indicate air leaks.

Detecting Air Leaks from Outside Your Home

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

  • Do a visual examination, paying close attention to corners and areas where different materials meet. Hunt for gaps or cracks that could cause air leaks, as well as damaged caulk or weatherstripping and incorrectly 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 close to a suspected air leak. If there’s a leak, the person inside ought to feel cold air or moisture getting into through the gap.

Sealing Air Leaks

After identifying serious air leaks, it’s time to address the issue. Here are the best strategies for sealing air leaks in your home:

  • Utilize 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 in question to ensure a durable seal. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the best application and curing time.
  • Apply weatherstripping to doors and windows to help them close tightly. A variety of  of weatherstripping are available, examples include 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 bigger gaps and holes. Expanding foam is sold in a can with a spray applicator for simple application in hard-to-reach places. Wear protective gloves and follow the manufacturer’s directions to make sure you stay safe.
  • Install 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 you need more.
  • Install door sweeps along the bottom of outside doors to stop drafts. Door sweeps are available in various materials and models to meet your needs and aesthetic preferences.

Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

A home energy assessment is invaluable for identifying sneaky air leaks and pinpointing areas of improvement. A professional energy auditor carries out 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 from 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 inconsistencies in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing unseen air leaks and insulation gaps.
  • A combustion safety test ensures your home heating system, water heater and other combustion appliances are operating safely and correctly, decreasing the risk of potentially harmful carbon monoxide buildup.
  • A homeowner interview is when the energy auditor discusses your energy usage habits, home maintenance history and comfort challenges to identify additional energy-saving possibilities.

Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

While carrying out your own air leak tests is a great 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 customized solutions to boost effectiveness and comfort.

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