Detecting Air Leaks in Your Home

March 28, 2017

According to the Department of Energy, air leaks through your home's conditioned envelope can add up to 20 percent to your annual energy costs. Detecting air leak sources and making sure they're sealed properly with an appropriate product like caulk, expandable foam or weatherstripping can allow you to start saving energy instead and enjoy a more comfortable home.

How to Locate Air Leak Origins

To pinpoint the exact locations where air is leaking, you can start by inspecting susceptible areas around the exterior. Check the door and window frames, where different materials meet, along the sill plate/foundation and anywhere wires, vents and piping extrude through the shell. Now, investigate common trouble spots indoors including:

  • The attic perimeter and knee walls
  • Around anything that penetrates the attic floor like recessed lights, vent pipes, wiring or the chimney
  • The attic hatch
  • Where walls and ceilings meet
  • Exterior wall baseboards
  • Exterior wall electrical boxes
  • The fireplace flue

Techniques for Air Leak Detection

You can also locate leaks using these three detection methods:

  •  Home pressurization. On a windy, cool day, shut down any combustion appliances, like your water heater and range. Then, make sure your windows and exterior doors are tightly closed, and shut the fireplace damper. Next, start up your clothes dryer and bathroom/kitchen exhaust fans that push air outdoors. Finally, run a smoke pencil along any suspected problem areas. If the smoke wavers, you've located a leak.
  • The paper test. Open each of your windows and exterior doors one at a time. Carefully place a sheet of paper under each then shut it tightly and try to remove the paper. If there's a gap that needs sealing, the paper will slide right out.
  • The flashlight test. To identify larger leaks, take a flashlight and walk around your home's exterior when it's dark out. Have someone follow along indoors as you shine the light on areas prone to leakage. Anywhere the light is visible indoors is a leak source that needs sealing.

For more advice about detecting and sealing air leaks in your Des Moines home, contact us at Lozier Heating and Cooling

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Des Moines, Iowa area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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