Easy Ways to Detect Air Leaks in Your Home

A leaky house is dramatically 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 relaxing living environment and reduce your energy bills.

Detecting Air Leaks from Inside Your Home

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

  • Conduct a thorough 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 often be found there.
  • Place your hand around potentially leaky places on a cold or windy day. If you sense a draft, you’ve uncovered 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 problem areas. If an air leak exists, the smoke will blow around or get sucked into the gap, exposing the location of a leak. The smoke test is best at finding leaks when conducted on a windy day.
  • Utilize an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to detect temperature differences in the different areas of your home. These devices help you identify rooms with significant temperature variations, which often signify air leaks.

Detecting Air Leaks from Outside Your Home

Inspecting the home’s outdoor structure can also uncover potential leaks. Here are two strategies for detecting air leaks from the outside:

  • Conduct a visual assessment, paying close attention to corners and locations where different materials meet. Look for gaps or cracks that could cause air leaks, as well as damaged caulk or weatherstripping and incorrectly sealed vents and exhaust fans.
  • Conduct 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 pinpointing significant air leaks, it’s time to handle the issue. Here are the most effective 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 escaping. Select a quality, long-lasting caulk intended 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 sold in stores, including adhesive-backed foam tape, V-strip and door sweeps. Choose the appropriate style for your needs and follow the installation guidelines.
  • Use expanding foam to fill and seal more substantial gaps and holes. Expanding foam comes in a can with a spray applicator for easy application in hard-to-reach areas. Wear protective gloves and stick to the manufacturer’s directions to make sure you use them carefully.
  • Apply insulation to newly sealed walls and attic floors to further minimize heat transfer. Even when 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 outside doors to restrict drafts. Door sweeps are sold in various materials and designs to meet your desires and aesthetic preferences.

Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

A home energy assessment is valuable for finding hidden air leaks and pinpointing areas of improvement. A professional energy auditor carries out this inspection, which involves the following:

  • A blower door test includes installing a temporary door with a powerful fan over an exterior door opening. The fan pulls air away from the house, lowering the indoor air pressure and sucking 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 locate temperature inconsistencies in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing invisible air leaks and insulation deficiencies.
  • A combustion safety test makes certain your home heating system, water heater and other combustion appliances are operating safely and effectively, lowering the risk of potentially deadly carbon monoxide buildup.
  • A homeowner interview is when the energy auditor analyzes your energy usage habits, home maintenance history and comfort challenges to identify additional energy-saving opportunities.

Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

While carrying out your own air leak tests is a good jumping off point, partnering 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 tailored solutions to enhance effectiveness and comfort.

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