Easy Ways to Detect Air Leaks in Your Home

A leaky house is considerably less energy efficient than a properly sealed one. Being familiar with how to detect 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

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

  • Carry out 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, because gaps can often be found there.
  • Put your hand near potentially leaky areas on a cold or windy day. If you believe there is a draft, you’ve discovered an air leak.
  • Perform the smoke test by lighting an incense stick or smoke pen. Then, slowly move it all around the edges of windows, doors and other potential trouble spots. 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 most effective when done on a windy day.
  • Utilize an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to identify temperature differences around your home. These devices help you locate sections of your home with major temperature variations, which often are caused by air leaks.

Detecting Air Leaks from Outside Your Home

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

  • Do a visual inspection, paying close attention to corners and places where different materials meet. Look for gaps or cracks that could lead to air leaks, as well as worn 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 entering through the gap.

Sealing Air Leaks

After finding serious air leaks, it’s time to deal with the issue. Here are the most beneficial ways to sealing air leaks in your home:

  • Apply caulk to seal small gaps and cracks around windows, doors and other areas where air is getting out of the home. Select a quality, long-lasting caulk intended for indoor or outdoor use and the specific materials you’re using to ensure a durable seal. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for correct application and curing time.
  • Apply weatherstripping to doors and windows to help them close tightly. Different kinds  of weatherstripping are available, including adhesive-backed foam tape, V-strip and door sweeps. Pick the ideal style for your needs and follow the installation guidelines.
  • Use expanding foam to fill and seal larger gaps and holes. Expanding foam comes in a can with a spray applicator for simple application in hard-to-reach areas. Wear protective gloves and adhere to the manufacturer’s directions to make sure you use them carefully.
  • Apply 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 your current level is inadequate.
  • Put door sweeps along the bottom of outside doors to stop drafts. Door sweeps are offered in various materials and designs to fit your desires and aesthetic preferences.

Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

A home energy assessment is invaluable for finding concealed air leaks and pinpointing areas of improvement. A professional energy auditor performs this inspection, which involves the following:

  • A blower door test involves installing a temporary door with a sturdy fan over an exterior door opening. The fan pulls air away from 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 easier to read.
  • Infrared imaging helps the energy auditor detect temperature discrepancies in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing unseen air leaks and insulation inadequacies.
  • A combustion safety test makes sure your home heating system, water heater and other combustion appliances are operating safely and effectively, decreasing the risk of potentially dangerous carbon monoxide buildup.
  • A homeowner interview is when the energy auditor analyzes your energy usage habits, home maintenance history and comfort issues to identify additional energy-saving options.

Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

While performing your own air leak tests is an excellent starting 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 tailored solutions to maximize effectiveness and comfort.

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