When your costly conditioned air leaks out of your home, or the hot summer air (or cold winter air) seeps in, it can add substantially to your cooling and heating costs. Fortunately, sealing household air leaks is a project that typically doesn’t require a HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) professional. In fact, you probably can do it yourself, rather inexpensively, and reap the long-term benefits for your energy budget.
Air can seep in through the smallest crevice or gap, so besides using your eyes to identify problem areas, you can detect air leaks by conducting your own infiltration test. Turn off any appliances that use gas or oil. Make a simple drawing of your home’s floor plan, and turn on your kitchen and bathroom ventilation fans. Close all windows and exterior doors, and walk through your home with a smoke pencil, especially around the perimeter of all of your home’s levels. Note on the floor plan where the smoke wavers.
Once you’ve finished your walk-through, investigate the areas that you’ve marked more closely. When you run all exhaust fans at once, you’re creating negative pressure indoors. Therefore, when the incense stick’s smoke moved, it indicated the places from which air leaks are coming.
Typical places that spring leaks, and which you may need to seal, include:
- Exterior doors
- Window frames
- Dryer vents
- The location in which plumbing or gas pipes entering your home
- The location in which cables enter your home
- Window air conditioners
- Electrical outlets or wall switches
You can seal many of the gaps and crevices with exterior caulk, expanding foam or weather stripping. Home-improvement stores sell gaskets to place over the outlets and switches inside your home that lie on exterior walls.
If your leak test didn’t reveal many problems, use a sheet of paper to test the seal for your doors and windows. If you can slip the paper between the window or door and the exterior, air can enter indoors or escape. Another way to test is to use a flashlight at night inside, and have someone else go outside to see where the light is shining through.
Overland Park Heating & Cooling has provided services in the Kansas City metro area since 1983, and our team of trained professionals can help you increase the overall energy efficiency of your home. Please contact us to learn more.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air leaks and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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