When your home has air leaks, warmed or cooled air escapes or enters through cracks around doors, windows, floors and walls. To seal these leaks and reduce heating and cooling costs, consider applying weatherstripping and caulking in gaps around your home. Your energy savings will easily outweigh the costs of sealing air leaks. Sealing can also improve indoor air quality.
Finding air leaks
To conduct a do-it-yourself test for finding air leaks, first map out a floor
plan of your home. Then close all the doors and windows, and run exhaust fans
wherever you have them (probably in your kitchen and bathrooms) to depressurize your house. Then walk the inner perimeter of the home with a smoke stick or candle. Watch for places where the smoke or flame wavers, and then mark them down on your floor plan. This will show you where air is leaking from (or into) your home. A professional energy evaluation can also help you locate leaks.
Locations that commonly have air leaks include:
- Door frames
- Window frames
- Electrical outlets
- Mail chutes
- Pipe entrances
- Air vents
- Dryer vents
- A home’s foundation
Sealing air leaks with caulk
Most cracks in fixed areas around a home can be sealed with caulk. Caulk can
generally seal cracks smaller than 1/4 inch. Make sure to choose the right type
of caulk for each project. For example, choose a waterproof silicone caulk for
water fixtures and a latex caulk for cracks in glass or tile. Clean the area
and remove old caulk with a putty knife. Apply caulking at a 45-degree angle to
get caulking deeply into cracks. When possible, apply caulk in one continuous
motion. Push any oozing caulk back into cracks with a putty knife, and reapply
more caulk if it shrinks as it dries.
Weatherstripping seals out leaks around movable joints in the house, such as
cracks around doors and windows. Felt and foam weatherstripping are cheaper and easier to apply than vinyl or metal weatherstripping, but they wear out faster
and are less resistant to moisture. Clean surfaces before applying
weatherstripping, and apply it in temperatures above 20 degrees. For the best
fit, measure and cut the material before beginning to stick it down. Apply it
to the surfaces on both sides of a gap for the best draft protection.
For help sealing air leaks in the greater Kansas City area, contact the friendly experts at Overland Park Heating & Cooling.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).