Easy Ways to Detect Air Leaks in Your Home

A leaky house is dramatically less energy efficient than a tightly sealed one. Being familiar with how to find air leaks in your house, sealing those leaks and scheduling a home energy assessment when warranted can help you create a comfortable living environment and reduce your energy bills.

Detecting Air Leaks from Inside Your Home

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

  • Conduct a thorough visual inspection, looking for gaps and cracks on or near windows, doors, electrical outlets and baseboards. Pay particular attention to the corners of rooms, as gaps can commonly be found there.
  • Hold your hand near potentially leaky places on a cold or windy day. If you sense a draft, you’ve uncovered an air leak.
  • Perform the smoke test by lighting an incense stick or smoke pen. Then, slowly move it near the edges of windows, doors and other potential trouble spots. If an air leak is present, the smoke will blow around or get sucked toward the gap, showing the site of the leak. The smoke test is best at finding leaks when carried out on a windy day.
  • Utilize an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to identify temperature differences in the different areas of your home. These tools help you identify 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 expose potential leaks. Here are two tips for finding air leaks from the outside:

  • Conduct a visual examination, paying close attention to corners and places where different materials meet. Hunt for gaps or cracks that could lead to air leaks, as well as deteriorated caulk or weatherstripping and improperly sealed vents and exhaust fans.
  • Do 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 where there is 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 pinpointing significant air leaks, it’s time to deal with the issue. Here are the most effective strategies for sealing air leaks in your home:

  • Utilize caulk to seal small gaps and cracks around windows, doors and other areas where air is escaping. Pick a quality, long-lasting caulk made for indoor or outdoor use and the specific materials you’re using 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 available, such as adhesive-backed foam tape, V-strip and door sweeps. Choose the ideal 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 simple application in hard-to-reach areas. Wear protective gloves and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure you use them carefully.
  • Add 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 you need more.
  • Add door sweeps along the bottom of exterior doors to restrict drafts. Door sweeps are offered in various materials and designs to meet your requirements and aesthetic preferences.

Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

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

  • A blower door test involves setting up a temporary door with a sturdy fan over an exterior door opening. The fan pulls air from the house, lowering the indoor air pressure and pulling 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 differences in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing invisible air leaks and insulation gaps.
  • A combustion safety test makes sure your home heating system, water heater and other combustion appliances are operating safely and correctly, 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 challenges to spot additional energy-saving possibilities.

Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

While carrying out your own air leak tests is a good jumping off 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 comprehensive home energy assessment and tailored solutions to maximize effectiveness and comfort.

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