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 detect air leaks in your house, sealing those leaks and scheduling a home energy assessment when warranted can help you establish a relaxing living environment and decrease your energy bills.

Detecting Air Leaks from Inside Your Home

Begin your air leak inspection on the interior. Here are four reliable techniques for looking for air leaks in your house:

  • Carry out a detailed visual inspection, looking for gaps and cracks in and around windows, doors, electrical outlets and baseboards. Pay particular attention to the corners of rooms, as gaps can often be found there.
  • Put your hand around potentially leaky locations on a cold or windy day. If you believe there is a draft, you’ve found an air leak.
  • Perform the smoke test by lighting an incense stick or smoke pen. Then, slowly move it all around the edges of windows, doors and other potential trouble spots. If an air leak is occurring in this location, the smoke will blow around or get sucked toward the gap, exposing the leak’s location. The smoke test is best at finding leaks when done on a windy day.
  • Use an infrared thermometer or thermal camera to detect temperature differences around your home. These devices help you identify locations with sizeable temperature variations, which often signify air leaks.

Detecting Air Leaks from Outside Your Home

Examining the exterior structure can also uncover potential leaks. Here are two tips for detecting air leaks from the outside:

  • Conduct a visual inspection, paying close attention to corners and areas where different materials meet. Search 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 colder day. This is where someone sprays water from a garden hose onto the outside of the house while another person stands inside close to a suspected air leak. If there’s a leak, the person inside ought to feel cold air or moisture entering through the gap.

Sealing Air Leaks

After finding significant air leaks, it’s time to address the issue. Here are the most effective ways to 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. Pick a high-quality, long-lasting caulk intended for indoor or outdoor use and the specific materials in question to ensure a durable seal. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for correct application and curing time.
  • Apply weatherstripping to doors and windows to help them close tightly. Different kinds  of weatherstripping are sold in stores, examples include adhesive-backed foam tape, V-strip and door sweeps. Choose the proper style for your needs and follow the installation instructions.
  • Use expanding foam to fill and seal bigger gaps and holes. Expanding foam is available in a can with a spray applicator for quick application in hard-to-reach places. Wear protective gloves and stick to the manufacturer’s guidelines to make sure you stay safe.
  • Apply insulation to newly sealed walls and attic floors to further minimize 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.
  • Add door sweeps along the bottom of outside doors to stop drafts. Door sweeps are available in various materials and models to suit your needs and aesthetic preferences.

Considering a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

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

  • A blower door test entails putting in a temporary door with a strong fan over an exterior door opening. The fan pulls air from the house, lowering the indoor air pressure and sucking 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 locate temperature differences in the walls, floors and ceilings, revealing unseen air leaks and insulation inadequacies.
  • A combustion safety test makes certain your home heating system, water heater and other combustion appliances are operating safely and effectively, lowering the risk of potentially deadly carbon monoxide buildup.
  • A homeowner interview is when the energy auditor discusses your energy usage habits, home maintenance history and comfort obstacles to learn additional energy-saving options.

Schedule a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment

While performing your own air leak tests is an excellent jumping off point, working with a professional is far more thorough. Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can help you improve your home’s air tightness with a detailed home energy assessment and personalized solutions to enhance performance and comfort.

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