Easy Ways to Detect Air Leaks in Your North America Home
A leaky house is considerably less energy efficient than a properly sealed one. Understanding how to detect air leaks in your house, sealing those leaks and scheduling a home energy assessment when needed can help you create a comfortable living environment and lower your energy bills.
Detecting Air Leaks from Inside Your Home
Start your air leak inspection on the interior. Here are four reliable ways for finding air leaks in your house:
- Conduct|Perform|Carry out]13] a detailed 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 commonly be found there.
- Hold your hand around potentially leaky areas on a cold or windy day. If you sense a draft, you’ve found 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 exists, the smoke will blow around or get sucked toward the gap, revealing the location of a leak. The smoke test is best at finding leaks when performed on a windy day.
- Employ an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to identify temperature differences in your home. These devices help you locate areas with significant temperature variations, which often signify air leaks.
Detecting Air Leaks from Outside Your Home
Studying the exterior structure can also expose potential leaks. Here are two methods for detecting air leaks from the outside:
- Do a visual examination, paying close attention to corners and places where different materials meet. Search for gaps or cracks that could create air leaks, as well as deteriorated caulk or weatherstripping and poorly sealed vents and exhaust fans.
- Conduct the garden hose test on a colder day. This is where someone sprays water from a garden hose onto the outside of the house while another person stands inside near 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 finding serious 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 leaking out. Choose a high-quality, long-lasting caulk developed for indoor or outdoor use and the specific materials you're using to ensure a durable seal. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for correct application and curing time.
- Apply weatherstripping to doors and windows to help them close tightly. Various types of weatherstripping are on the market, examples include adhesive-backed foam tape, V-strip and door sweeps. Select 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 sold in a can with a spray applicator for simple application in hard-to-reach areas. Wear protective gloves and adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure safe use.
- Install insulation to newly sealed walls and attic floors to further minimize heat transfer. Whether or not 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 stop drafts. Door sweeps are available in various materials and designs to suit your needs and aesthetic preferences.
Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment
A home energy assessment is useful for identifying hidden air leaks and identifying areas of improvement. A professional energy auditor does 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 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 inconsistencies in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing hidden 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 correctly, decreasing the risk of potentially harmful carbon monoxide buildup.
- A homeowner interview is when the energy auditor looks at your energy usage habits, home maintenance history and comfort challenges to identify additional energy-saving options.
Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment
While performing your own air leak tests is a good 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 a comprehensive home energy assessment and tailored solutions to boost performance and comfort.