How to Find and Seal Air Leaks

How to Find and Seal Air LeaksWhile water leaks in your home usually become quickly evident, air leaks may go undetected for decades. Yet, air leakage is a major cause of energy inefficiency which, in turn, raises operating costs as utility bills increase. Air leaks can also reduce household comfort in rooms affected. Since air is invisible, identifying leaks is harder than locating a roof leak or a dripping pipe. By applying some simple methods, however, you can find and seal many leaks yourself. For stubborn cases, your HVAC contractor can use advanced technology designed to reveal hidden leakage.

The Usual Suspects

Certain parts of your house are more likely to leak air than others. Feel for drafts at these areas or hold a lit stick of incense and observe the smoke stream (if the smoke deflects, you’ve identified a hidden air current):

  • At electrical outlets and wall switches.
  • Around the frames of windows and exterior doors.
  • Inside and outside where electrical conduits, plumbing or gas pipes enter the house.
  • Along the joint between baseboards and the floor.
  • Around the perimeter of recessed ceiling lights as well as the attic access hatch.
  • Inside the fireplace.
  • Around window air conditioners.

Stopping the Flow

Once you’ve discovered a leak, use silicone household caulking to seal any openings 1/4-inch or less wide. For larger or irregular gaps, such as around pipes entering the home, use spray foam insulation in a can. For air leakage around the moving surfaces of doors or windows, replace worn weatherstripping with new sticky-backed foam weatherstripping. For a more permanent and effective seal, use bulb-type rubber or vinyl weatherstripping.

A Professional Approach

The definitive solution to air leakage issues is a blower door test performed by a qualified HVAC technician. The procedure lightly depressurizes the house and utilizes air pressure sensors linked to a computer to calculate the extent of leakage. While the structure is depressurized, the technician can use infrared imaging or other methods to pinpoint the exact location of leaks for precise sealing.

Helping Terre Haute maintain efficient, comfortable homes since 1922, contact Paitson Bros. for professional expertise in resolving air leaks.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 812-645-6859.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Norman Pogson/Shutterstock”

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