Easy Ways to Detect Air Leaks in Your Home

A leaky house is significantly less energy efficient than a properly sealed one. Being familiar with how to uncover air leaks in your house, sealing those leaks and scheduling a home energy assessment when necessary can help you establish a comfortable living environment and decrease your energy bills.

Detecting Air Leaks from Inside Your Home

Start your air leak inspection on the interior. Here are four successful ways for finding air leaks in your house:

  • Conduct 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, given that gaps can frequently be found there.
  • Place your hand near potentially leaky areas 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 around the edges of windows, doors and other potential trouble spots. If an air leak is present, the smoke will blow around or get sucked through the gap, showing the leak’s location. The smoke test is most effective when performed on a windy day.
  • Utilize an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to find temperature differences in your home. This equipment will help you locate sections of your home with sizeable temperature variations, which often are caused by air leaks.

Detecting Air Leaks from Outside Your Home

Inspecting the exterior structure can also reveal 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. Search for gaps or cracks that could cause air leaks, as well as worn caulk or weatherstripping and improperly sealed vents and exhaust fans.
  • Do the garden hose test on a chilly 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 will more than likely feel cold air or moisture entering through the gap.

Sealing Air Leaks

After identifying significant air leaks, it’s time to deal with the issue. Here are the most beneficial 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 getting out of the home. Decide on a top-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 details for the best 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 appropriate style for your needs and follow the installation guidelines.
  • Use expanding foam to fill and seal more substantial gaps and holes. Expanding foam is available in a can with a spray applicator for easy application in hard-to-reach spots. Wear protective gloves and adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure safe use.
  • Apply insulation to newly sealed walls and attic floors to further reduce heat transfer. Even when 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 exterior doors to restrict drafts. Door sweeps are available in various materials and designs to suit your desires and aesthetic preferences.

Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

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

  • A blower door test involves setting up a temporary door with a strong fan over an exterior door opening. The fan pulls air from 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 show leaks more clearly.
  • Infrared imaging helps the energy auditor detect temperature differences 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 harmful carbon monoxide buildup.
  • A homeowner interview is when the energy auditor discusses your energy usage habits, home maintenance history and comfort issues to spot additional energy-saving possibilities.

Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

While doing your own air leak tests is an excellent 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 customized solutions to maximize efficiency and comfort.

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