Air leakage in your home can result in energy loss, hot and cold spots, drafts, and poor indoor air quality. Additionally, according to the Department of Energy, air loss can result in the growth of mold from excess moisture and humidity getting inside. This could lead to a variety of serious health problems for your loved ones.
How to detect air loss
Here are some tips for determining whether or not you have air leaks in your home.
Perform a visual inspection. Check for gaps or cracks in your window and door frames, electrical outlets, outdoor water spigots, foundation, crawl space, attic doors, baseboards, dryer vents, fireplace dampers, and in spots on your walls where pipes penetrate.
Do a hand test. Often, this type of test is used to find larger areas of air loss. Place your hand around window and door frames, or around vents in your attic or basement. If you feel warm or cold air (depending on the season when the test is performed), this is an indication that you have pockets of air loss.
Use a candle test. Some cracks and openings may be too small to notice with the naked eye, so you can benefit from performing a candle test. Turn off your heating and cooling systems so they don’t interfere, and then light a candle and carefully walk with it around your home to areas where you may have leaks, such as around electrical outlets, around baseboards, in your basement, or in your attic space. If the flame wavers or blows out, this is a good indication that you have found an area of air loss.
Hire an expert. A professional energy auditor will likely perform a blower door test. This test makes use of a fan at your entryway to depressurize your home. Once the home is depressurized, the energy expert will be able to pinpoint leaks in the home with the use of an air leak detector.
How to fix the problem
If you’ve discovered pockets of air loss in your home, there are several things you can do to fix the problem. You can add weather stripping around window and door frames, seal electrical outlets, and add extra spray foam insulation to the ‘problem’ areas.
What is spray foam insulation?
It’s a liquid foam insulating material which can be used in a variety of locations in a home, such as the attic, between floors, inside walls, around pipes, and even around window and door frames. Most spray foam insulation materials have an R-value (a measure of the resistance to heat flow) that is higher than standard insulating materials, such as fiberglass batts.
This type of insulation is available in both closed and open cell varieties. Closed cell spray foam is dense and is often used to fill larger spaces. Open cell spray foam is lighter and less expensive. The type you will need for your home will depend on the area you are trying to insulate, as well as your spending budget for the project.
Benefits of spray foam insulating materials
- High R-values.
- Can be used to insulate roofs, attics, walls, floors, electrical outlets, vents, fans, and plumbing pipe penetrations.
- Fills small areas that may otherwise be untouched by traditional insulating materials.
- Seals areas of air loss in a home to help prevent energy waste, improving overall comfort levels and indoor air quality.
Take care of problems with air loss as soon as possible before they result in wasted energy, high utility bills, and jeopardized indoor air quality.