As Minnesotans, we’ve developed pretty tough skin when it comes to cold air. Part of what helps us tolerate that biting January wind is knowing that we’ll be warm and snug as soon as we get inside our house. That comfort goes away if your home has leaks that allow the frigid January air to infiltrate your sanctuary. Not to mention that the heat that escapes through air leaks can waste up to one third of your energy budget each month! Here’s how to track down leaks and drafts so that you can seal your home from energy waste.
The easiest way to locate sources of air leaks and drafts is a simple visual inspection. Look for gaps or cracks in the following common areas:
- – Electrical outlets
- – Door and window frames
- – Baseboards
- – Attic hatches
- – Wiring holes (cable and phone lines, etc.)
- – Vents and fans
- – Exterior corners
- – Outdoor faucets
- – Where siding and chimneys meet
- – Seam where foundation and exterior siding meet
- – Behind attic knee walls
Doors and windows are the most obvious source of potential air leaks. If you can see daylight around the frames or you can rattle them, you have a leak. You may be able to seal the gaps by re-caulking or installing new weather stripping, but if you have old windows and doors, you might be better off replacing them with newer models.
However, it is the more hidden sources of air leak that can be the biggest drain on your home energy supply. Cracks that lurk in your basement or attic, are tucked behind furniture, or are covered by tall grass outside can all go easily overlooked. If you’re having trouble with leaks and drafts, conduct a thorough inspection of your home to check for any and all of these hidden sources.
Once you’ve identified the sources of air leakage throughout your home, you’ll want to seal them all up so that your home is energy secure. Spend an afternoon going through your home and using caulk, weather stripping, or spray foam to seal all visible cracks and gaps.
Of course, if your home—particularly your attic—isn’t well insulated to begin with, sealing cracks will be as effective as putting a Band-Aid over a broken bone. Nonetheless, experts recommend sealing air gaps in your attic before adding new insulation, so your time spent sealing will still be well spent.
Bear in mind that while air sealing your home will prevent heat from escaping, it can also trap more harmful airborne elements such as carbon monoxide. For the safety of your family, you should consider having a professional test your air quality to rule out the possible presence of harmful gases. If there is a problem, they can install ventilation fans in order to maintain safe air quality in your home.