Easy Ways to Detect Air Leaks in Your Home

A leaky house is considerably less energy efficient than a correctly sealed one. Understanding how to uncover air leaks in your house, sealing those leaks and scheduling a home energy assessment when necessary can help you maintain a cozy living environment and lower your energy bills.

Detecting Air Leaks from Inside Your Home

Begin your air leak inspection on the inside of your home. Here are four reliable ways for finding air leaks in your house:

  • Conduct a detailed visual inspection, looking for gaps and cracks around windows, doors, electrical outlets and baseboards. Pay extra attention to the corners of rooms, because gaps can frequently be found there.
  • Place your hand close to potentially leaky areas on a cold or windy day. If you feel a draft, you’ve uncovered an air leak.
  • Complete 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 is occurring in this location, the smoke will blow around or get sucked into the gap, showing the site of the leak. The smoke test is more effective when performed on a windy day.
  • Utilize an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to find temperature differences in your home. These devices help you locate sections of your home with major temperature variations, which often signify air leaks.

Detecting Air Leaks from Outside Your Home

Inspecting the home’s outdoor structure can also expose potential leaks. Here are two methods 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 lead to air leaks, as well as deteriorated caulk or weatherstripping and incorrectly sealed vents and exhaust fans.
  • Conduct the garden hose test on a chilly day. This is where someone sprays water from a garden hose onto the outside of the house while another person stands inside where there is 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 finding major air leaks, it’s time to address the issue. Here are the best ways to 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 high-quality, long-lasting caulk developed for indoor or outdoor use and the specific materials in question 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. Different kinds  of weatherstripping are sold in stores, including adhesive-backed foam tape, V-strip and door sweeps. Select the correct style for your needs and follow the installation guidelines.
  • Use expanding foam to fill and seal larger gaps and holes. Expanding foam is sold in a can with a spray applicator for easy application in hard-to-reach spots. Wear protective gloves and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe use.
  • Add insulation to newly sealed walls and attic floors to further cut down on 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.
  • Put door sweeps along the bottom of outside doors to prevent drafts. Door sweeps are offered in various materials and models to fit your desires and aesthetic preferences.

Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

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

  • A blower door test entails putting in a temporary door with a powerful fan over an exterior door opening. The fan pulls air out of the house, lowering the interior air pressure and sucking 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 identify temperature discrepancies in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing invisible 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 deadly carbon monoxide buildup.
  • A homeowner interview is when the energy auditor looks at your energy usage habits, home maintenance history and comfort issues to identify additional energy-saving options.

Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

While doing your own air leak tests is a good launching 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 personalized solutions to maximize effectiveness and comfort.

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