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Easy Ways to Detect Air Leaks in Your Home

A leaky house is dramatically less energy efficient than a properly sealed one. Knowing how to uncover air leaks in your house, sealing those leaks and scheduling a home energy assessment when necessary can help you establish a relaxing living environment and lower your energy bills.

Detecting Air Leaks from Inside Your Home

Start your air leak inspection on the inside. Here are four successful methods for locating air leaks in your house:

  • Perform a thorough visual inspection, looking for gaps and cracks around windows, doors, electrical outlets and baseboards. Pay particular attention to the corners of rooms, because gaps can frequently be found there.
  • Hold your hand around potentially leaky areas 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 around the edges of windows, doors and other potential trouble spots. If an air leak exists, the smoke will blow around or get sucked toward the gap, revealing the leak’s location. The smoke test is more effective when conducted on a windy day.
  • Use an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to find temperature differences around your home. This equipment will help you locate areas with major temperature variations, which often indicate air leaks.

Detecting Air Leaks from Outside Your Home

Inspecting the home’s outdoor structure can also reveal potential leaks. Here are two tips for discovering air leaks from the outside:

  • Conduct a visual examination, paying close attention to corners and places where different materials meet. Look for gaps or cracks that could create air leaks, as well as deteriorated caulk or weatherstripping and improperly sealed vents and exhaust fans.
  • Do the garden hose test on a colder 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 should feel cold air or moisture getting into through the gap.

Sealing Air Leaks

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

  • Use caulk to seal small gaps and cracks around windows, doors and other areas where air is getting out of the home. Pick a quality, long-lasting caulk created for indoor or outdoor use and the specific materials in question 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 on the market, such as adhesive-backed foam tape, V-strip and door sweeps. Choose the correct style for your needs and follow the installation recommendations.
  • Use expanding foam to fill and seal bigger gaps and holes. Expanding foam comes in a can with a spray applicator for easy application in hard-to-reach places. Wear protective gloves and stick to the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure you use them carefully.
  • Add 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 it’s currently lacking.
  • Install door sweeps along the bottom of external doors to stop drafts. Door sweeps are available in various materials and styles to meet your requirements and aesthetic preferences.

Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

A home energy assessment is useful for spotting sneaky air leaks and pinpointing areas of improvement. A professional energy auditor carries out 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 out of the house, lowering the interior 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 discrepancies in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing invisible air leaks and insulation gaps.
  • A combustion safety test makes certain your home heating system, water heater and other combustion appliances are operating safely and efficiently, lowering the risk of potentially harmful carbon monoxide buildup.
  • A homeowner interview is when the energy auditor analyzes your energy usage habits, home maintenance history and comfort issues to learn additional energy-saving options.

Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

While doing your own air leak tests is a great launching point, partnering 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 tailored solutions to maximize performance and comfort.

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