Easy Ways to Detect Air Leaks in Your Home

A leaky house is considerably less energy efficient than a correctly 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 comfy living environment and decrease your energy bills.

Detecting Air Leaks from Inside Your Home

Start your air leak inspection on the inside. Here are four reliable techniques for locating air leaks in your house:

  • Carry out a comprehensive visual inspection, looking for gaps and cracks in and around windows, doors, electrical outlets and baseboards. Pay special attention to the corners of rooms, as gaps can often be found there.
  • Hold your hand around potentially leaky places 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 around the edges of windows, doors and other potential trouble spots. If an air leak exists, the smoke will blow around or get sucked through the gap, exposing the leak’s location. The smoke test is best at finding leaks when carried out on a windy day.
  • Use an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to detect temperature differences around your home. These devices help you identify areas 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 strategies for detecting air leaks from the outside:

  • Conduct a visual examination, paying close attention to corners and areas where different materials meet. Hunt for gaps or cracks that could create air leaks, as well as deteriorated caulk or weatherstripping and incorrectly sealed vents and exhaust fans.
  • Perform the garden hose test on a cool day. This is where someone sprays water from a garden hose onto the 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 coming through the gap.

Sealing Air Leaks

After identifying major air leaks, it’s time to address the issue. Here are the best methods for 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. Choose a quality, long-lasting caulk made for indoor or outdoor use and the specific materials you are trying to seal 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. Various types  of weatherstripping are available, such as adhesive-backed foam tape, V-strip and door sweeps. Choose the correct style for your needs and follow the installation recommendations.
  • Use expanding foam to fill and seal more substantial gaps and holes. Expanding foam is available in a can with a spray applicator for simple application in hard-to-reach spots. Wear protective gloves and stick to the manufacturer’s directions 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 your current level is inadequate.
  • Install door sweeps along the bottom of exterior doors to restrict drafts. Door sweeps are available in various materials and models to meet your desires and aesthetic preferences.

Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

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

  • A blower door test includes installing 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 drawing in outside air through unsealed openings. This test measures your home’s air tightness and makes thermal camera images more pronounced.
  • 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 efficiently, 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 carrying out your own air leak tests is a good 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 an extensive home energy assessment and tailored solutions to boost efficiency and comfort.

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