AIR LEAK DETECTION AND REPAIR TIPS:
TIP 1: Wait for a windy day, or get started in the morning when the outside temperature is cooler than the indoor temperature. While you are inside your house, follow the perimeter of your exterior walls. You can use your bare hand to feel for leaks but lit incense sticks or smoke pens are more sensitive detectors.
TIP 2: Move gently around windows and doors. If the smoke wavers, you have just detected an air leak. You will want to use caulking and/or weather stripping to seal the leaks.
TIP 3: Do the same thing around electrical outlets, cabinet soffits, utility boxes, plumbing fixtures, ceiling fixtures, and any areas where your exterior walls have been penetrated. Use caulk to seal smaller leaks and foam sealant on larger leaks around windows or baseboards. You can install foam gaskets behind electrical sockets and switch plates to provide an additional insulation barrier for them.
TIP 4: Look for dirty spots on your ceiling paint or carpet where wall/ceiling joints or wall/floor joints might be compromised. This can indicate air leaks in the joists that should be caulked.
TIP 5: Go into your attic and examine the insulation – dirty spots or stains can indicate an air leak that needs to be sealed. You can use expansion spray foam, and flashing if necessary.
TIP 6: Check kitchen venting and your chimney flu. These can often leak air from the outside and are simple to fix. Cover the kitchen exhaust fan when you aren't using it. Keep your fireplace flu closed when not in use. You can use an inflatable chimney balloon to seal the entire flue in the off season. They are reusable multiple times over, and should you forget to remove them, they immediately deflate when exposed to heat.
TIP 7: Check fireplace chimneys, furnaces, and gas-fired water heater vents. These areas require a fire-resistant material, such as sheet metal or sheet rock to be sealed. Do not use any sealant or caulk that is not fire resistant.
TIP 8: Check dryer vent for air leakage. Make sure it is clear of lint and debris as these can pose a major fire risk.
TIP 9: Cover single pane windows with storm windows or replace them altogether with double pane, low emissivity windows. It may seem expensive to replace old windows but with tax incentives, and the recoup of expenses due to energy savings, you might be surprised at how affordable it really is.
Air leak detection is an important step in your annual home maintenance plan. Within one or two weekends, you can have a home that is sealed as well as, or better than, the day it was built. Air leak detection and repair provides a great bang for your buck because repairs are usually cheap and they will have an immediate impact on your monthly utility bills.
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