How To Find and Seal Air Leaks in Your Home
Even if your HVAC system is working perfectly, you may find that your house isn’t heating or cooling properly and that you’re spending far too much on utility bills. If that’s the case, you may have some hidden air leaks in your home.
Finding air leaks
The best way to find air leaks in your home is to hire a technician to conduct an energy audit. However, there are also some places you can check yourself to find a leak.
Do a visual inspection on the following areas of your home. If you feel airflow where there shouldn’t be any, you’ve found the leak.
● Any area where different building materials intersect
● Exterior corners
● Where siding and chimneys meet
● Where siding and foundation or exterior brick meet
● Door and window frames
● Weather stripping on doors and windows
● Wall and window mounted air conditioner units
● Where dryer vents pass through walls
● Vents and fans
● Electrical outlets
● Switch plates
● Electric and gas service entrances
● Fireplace dampers
● Attic hatches
Once you’ve found a leak, you need to seal it. Again, the best way is to call a professional technician, but if you’re confident in your own ability there are some simple things you can do to seal a leak.
The two basic things that are used to seal air leaks are caulk and weather stripping. In general, caulk is used to seal leaks on stationary house components like door and window frames, while weatherstripping is used on moving components like doors and windows.
Caulking is simple but should be done carefully. Before you begin, make sure the area you are going to caulk is clean and free of paint and old caulk. After cleaning, make sure the area is dry. When caulking, hold the caulk gun at a consistent angle and continue in one continuous stream. Release the trigger before pulling the gun away. If the caulk begins to leak out of the crack, push it back in with a putty knife, and if the caulk shrinks, reapply to the crack or seam. Allow the caulk to set for the manufacturer recommended time.
Weatherstripping can be simple but can get very technical. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and if you are unsure of your ability, call a professional. To begin, clean and dry the area where you are going to apply the weatherstripping, and measure twice before cutting the weatherstripping. Apply the weatherstripping to both surfaces being sure to make a snug fit so the material compresses when the door or window shuts.
Caulking and weatherstripping can take care of most air leaks in a house, and you may feel comfortable applying them on your own. However, if you aren’t sure of your ability or just want to make sure leaks are sealed tightly, call a professional. Finally, enjoy your heating and cooling efficient home and if you detect any more leaks, you know what to do.