I. Identify Potential Air Leaks
The potential energy savings draft reduction may range from 5% to 30% per year, and the home is generally much more comfortable afterward.
Make a list of common indoor and outdoor air leak locations some examples are: Windows and doors, baseboards, electrical outlets and switch plates, fireplaces, attic access panels, wall or window mounted A/C units or evaporative (swamp) coolers, outdoor faucets (hose bibs), penetrations through exterior walls such as: electrical, plumbing, phone and cable lines, dryer vents, etc.
II. Locate Air Leaks
Using a stick of burning incense or the dampened back of your hand check each of the locations you noted on your list. Cold air will make the smoke from the incense waver or you will be able to feel the cold air on the back of your hand.
If you’re having trouble finding leaks you can do a simple ‘pressurization’ test by using the following steps.
1. Close all exterior doors, windows, and fireplace flues.
2. Turn OFF all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters, gas fireplaces, etc. (Remember to turn them back on when you are done with the test.)
3. Turn on all exhaust fans (generally located in the kitchen and bathrooms) or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms. This increases infiltration through cracks and leaks, making them easier to detect.
4. Use a burning incense stick or your damp hand to locate these leaks. Moving air causes the smoke to waver, and you will feel a draft when it cools your hand.
If you want a high tech way to check for leaks check out this Thermal Leak Detector from Black and Decker (http://www.blackanddecker.com/ProductGuide/Product-Details.aspx?ProductID=20626) available at Ace Hardware Alameda Station
Ace Hardware – Alameda Station
417 South Broadway
Denver, Colorado 80209-1517 USA
Phone: (303) 733-3200
Hours of operation:
Monday through Saturday 8:00am to 8:00pm
Sunday 9:00am to 6:00pm
III. Locate Other Air Leaks
Windows and Doors – If doors or windows rattle or are loose in their frames you can expect air leakage. If you can see daylight around door and window frames, then the door or window leaks.
Out side – On the outside of your house, inspect all areas where two different building materials meet. For example: inspect all exterior corners; where siding and chimneys meet; and areas where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet.
A future post will discuss various methods for sealing different types of leaks.