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Saturday, June 7, 2014

DIY: Sealing air leaks in your home


How to fix air leaks
Sealing air leaks helps reduce home energy costs
By Rebecca Borchers

You put a lot of money into making sure you home is fully functional, but what if you could save more than a couple bucks just by sealing those pesky air leaks that have been running up your energy bills.

Older houses are especially prone to air leaks, but newer houses can also have their flaws after going through intensified weather. Each region has its dangers when it comes to air leaks, whether its moisture or cold air these silent affects can do damage to your home.

The following is a step by step process on how to check and seal air leaks in your home with ease and efficiency.

Finding the leak

By using tools such as smoke pens or incense you can check your home for air that you may not be able to feel sneaking in. Hold either one up to the spaces listed below and look for a horizontal smoke line to indicate a leak.
  •          Windows
  •          Doors
  •          Attic hatches
  •          Plumbing fixtures
  •          Ceiling fixtures
  •          Electrical outlets
  •          Electrical boxes
  •          Air ducts

Sealing up


Use either latex or silicone caulk to seal up leaks, which can come in a multitudes of colors and specialties for your particular task. Caulk is very versatile, and if used correctly can seal anything from plumbing in the kitchen to electrical wiring in the garage.

If you need to cover doors and windows, specifically look towards using weather stripping seals that can even be as simple as sticking down foam strips, or as intricate as attaching aluminum door sweeps.
 

Outlet check


For further protection, make your way around the house to add in foam gaskets to outlets or even switch plates to stop extra airflow.
 

Insulation


Insulation should be inspected to make sure that dark spots are not leading to water leakage or buildup of mold. Home improvement stores sell low-expansion foam that you can apply yourself to prevent further damage. For excessive water issues, house flashing should be applied to direct water safely out and downward.
 

Window replacement


It is additionally recommended that all single pane windows be replaced with double pane low emissivity windows that won’t let up to 25% of you’re A/C escape like single pane will. For a slightly lower cost try covering normal windows with storm windows instead, or use curtains and shades to block out heat and cold appropriately.
 

Vents and exhaust fans


Dryer vents can occasionally become blocked, which could be wasting energy or even worse become the source of a fire. Check vents and remove any buildup that may have occurred.  

Many people additionally do not think about kitchen exhaust fans being a point of air flow leakage. Cover your fan when not in use to help contain air and maintain temperature.
 

Fire resistance


There are select points in the home where air ventilates that is in need of a fire resistant fix, such as fireplace chimneys, gas fired water heater vents and furnaces. For fireplaces specifically flues or chimney balloons work just fine but all other areas should have furnace cement caulk applied or sheet metal installed.  

Many of these fixes may seem like an extra added cost that can be put on the backburner, but with years of unnecessarily high energy bills today is the day to start. Sealing air leaks will take some time to put money back in your pocket but in the end a great way to keep your homes maintenance up to date.


About the author: Rebecca Borchers is a UCF transfer from FIU. She is originally from Southampton, UK and is a hospitality major whos looking into event management. She is a world traveler who has a passion for volunteering and loves her dachshund. Rebecca works part-time as content writer and social media strategist for www.FacemyerAC.com.


Sources:
http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/tips-sealing-air-leaks
http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/air-sealing-your-home

Image license: US-PDGov, EPA; image source