Regardless of how much you turn the thermostat up, air leaks will undermine your comfort. Identifying their locations and sealing them will save energy and drop your heating bills, and in most cases, is a project most homeowners can do themselves.
Licensed auditors and HVAC contractors conduct energy audits using blower doors that show you exactly where and how large the leaks are. They use a large fan mounted in a metal frame that exhausts the air from your home. They watch the air pressure gauges on the blower door to calculate the amount of air coming through all the cracks and gaps.
It’s the most accurate way to test your home and you may find financial incentives from local utility companies that offset the cost of the test.
Although the results won’t be as clear, you can look for air leaks yourself through a visual and tactile inspection of your home’s envelope. Focus on exterior doors and windows and look for cracks and gaps. Pipes and wires entering your home may contribute to infiltration, and ice dams might indicate air leaking into the attic from the ceilings, frequently from recessed lighting fixtures.
Another approach is to turn on the kitchen and bathroom fans and use a lighted stick of incense or a candle to look for places where the smoke moves abnormally. In the winter, you can also feel colder air entering around all these points, as well as baseboards and electrical outlets.
Sealing the Leaks
Small cracks can be sealed by using caulk and larger leaks with expanding foams formulated for its use. Any leaks around furnace, fireplace and hot water flues should be sealed with fireproof flashing. Weatherstripping around doors wears out and should be replaced with the appropriate material.
Putting an end to air leaks leads to a more comfortable and energy efficient home. We at Sobieski Services, Inc., want to help our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland learn more about their HVAC and plumbing systems to live in more energy efficient and healthier homes.