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How to Check for Air Leaks in Your Home

Hot air rises, and so does a homeowner’s energy bill when air leaks inside a home are left unaddressed. Drafts are one of the most common causes for wasted energy, especially in older residences. As the autumn weather descends, homeowners are advised to check for air leaks in their homes.

Most drafts are noticed in the cooler months around windows and doors. Although air leaks may occur in obvious areas like these, the most damaging drafts happen in hidden places inside the home. The attic and basement are prime suspects when it comes to investigating energy-depleting air leaks. The insulation in the attic makes pinpointing air leaks a difficult task. With a little detective work, you’ll stumble upon effective strategies to seal the dirty drafts.

It helps to know where else air leaks occur, so that homeowners are fully aware of how to tackle the household flaw. Homeowners should inspect not only the attic, but plumbing fixtures, chimneys, fireplaces, light fixtures and wiring through floors and walls. Aside from these penetrating spaces, homeowners should also examine areas of missing plaster, electrical outlets, basement/window/door moldings and the tops of foundation walls.

Visually Inspect the Home’s Exterior

Use keen eyes to visually notice areas outside of the home where differing building materials adjoin. A homeowner should examine exterior corners, outdoor water spouts and the spots where the chimney joins with the siding. Also take a look at where the foundation and siding meet.

Eyeball the Household Interior


Windows and doors will need extra attention when investigating for leaks.

Cracks and gaps inside the home indicate a likely presence of air leaks. Drafts may be caused by gaps surrounding electrical outlets, frames around doors and windows, baseboards and the service entrance to the gas. A savvy homeowner will also check for air leaks around cable television lines, holes through which dryer vents pass, doorway weather stripping and the walls where air conditioners are mounted.

Also, inside the home, gaps may be present around wiring and plumbing pipes. The areas surrounding the mail slot can lead to drafts, too.

Replace Drafty Windows and Doors

Windows and doors will need extra attention when investigating for leaks. A homeowner who is able to physically rattle the doors or windows and discovers movement will likely find an air leak. The bright, blazing sunlight beaming through the outline of the home’s doors or window frame is solid evidence of an air leak. Examine the storm door for a tight seal, and ensure no part of it is broken.

Drafty windows and doors can be replaced with high-performance ones. Or, inexpensive plastic sheets installed over the doors and windows are an effective alternative.

Seal the Deal with Caulk

Caulk is a homeowner’s trustiest partner when it comes to solving air leak activity. Cracks that are less than a quarter inch wide are best sealed with caulk. Certain structural materials may be suitable to differing types of caulk, so read the label carefully prior to applying caulk to specific surfaces. Homeowners will also want to purchase high-quality caulk that lasts at least 20 years and remains flexible during its lifetime. Less expensive caulk should be avoided, as it will fail to hold up. Caulk may be available in an array of colors or may be paintable; this is important to consider if the caulked area will be visible. Cracks and gaps also may be sealed with weather stripping.

The Pressurization Test Uncover Leaks

When the pressure is on to locate the airy intruder, turn to a building pressurization test. The process requires easy detective work:

First, check the weather forecast for a windy day. When gusts of cool air blow outside, it’s time to put in motion the pressurization test. Shut all doors, windows and the fireplace flue. Also turn off the gas furnace and water heater.

Next, turn on the exhaust fans, like the stove vents, bathroom fans or the dryer, that blow air to the outdoors. A window fan will do justice, just as well, to suck all the air out of the room.

Lastly, light an incense stick. Wave the stick around the edges of areas suspected of a leak. If the smoke blows around or wavers, a draft is present. A homeowner may also pass a water dampened hand around suspected drafty areas; a cooled sensation will be experienced if an air leak exists.

The Flashlight Method Finds Gaps

Homeowners may partner up with another individual to scout air leaks. At night, one individual should flash light around suspected gaps. If the person inside the home sees the light shine through, a gap and consequent air leak are present. Large cracks are best uncovered via a flashlight. However, small cracks are too tiny to locate via this method.

The Dollar Bill Procedure Saves Energy

When a homeowner is trying to save a buck, a dollar bill goes a long way in uncovering an air leak. Close the door or a window on a dollar bill. A drafty space is present if the dollar bill can be effortlessly pulled out.

The quality of air inside the home is important. When you want to circulate clean air inside your home, consult the pros. ServiceMaster Professional Services is a reputable residential air duct cleaning service that gives homeowners peace of mind and clean air to breathe. If you haven’t had your home’s air ducts cleaned in 10 years or don’t recall the last time the service was done, call the experts. Even newly constructed homes or remodeled houses should have the air ducts cleaned to ensure indoor air quality.

Indoor air pollution is physically imperceptible when it causes a rash of health conditions in people, yet apparent when it leaves dust trains inside the property. Homeowners with pets and those who smoke also should have their home’s air ducts cleaned in order to circulate the best quality air.

ServiceMaster Professional Services reliably serves the residential communities and surrounding areas of Minneapolis, MN. Our team of dedicated professionals stand by to take your call and answer any questions.


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