Are you looking for ways to save on your heating and cooling costs? Properly sealing and insulating your home can save as much as 10 percent on your energy bills each year. Hidden air leaks are a major source of energy losses when it comes to your HVAC system, so it's important to track them down and seal them up as soon as possible.
Check out these places around your home where unexpected air leaks may be occurring and find out how to fix them.
Windows and Doors
Some of the easiest places to detect and fix an air leak are doors and windows. You can usually detect whether air is escaping or coming in through these areas just by feeling around the edges with your hands. In most cases, you can use simple supplies to fix these leaks.
Apply self-adhesive weather-stripping made of silicone, rubber, vinyl, or felt down the sides of your windows or into a door sweep to eliminate gaps that allow air to pass through. Another option is using plastic sheeting to cover the windows entirely. If you are up to a slightly more complicated project, remove the trim and spray foam sealant, caulk, or insulation into the wall framing surrounding your door or window.
While it's easy to notice air leaks by your windows and doors, you might not realize just how much air you're losing through your ductwork. There's a chance your duct has a few leaks that are contributing to energy losses in your home. You can check any exposed ductwork for possible damage. Pinhole leaks can be covered with metal-backed tape. Apply mastic sealant for holes that are slightly larger.
You shouldn't try to fix any major leaks on your own. Make sure you call a professional HVAC technician to fix ductwork air leaks and check any hidden ductwork for issues. A pro can also help you minimize air leaks by letting you know if there's insufficient insulation around your ductwork or if you need a vapor barrier to prevent condensation from forming on the ducts.
Even areas as small as electrical outlets can produce significant air leaks. You can detect whether leaks are occurring in your outlets by using a stick of incense. Light the stick and hold it next to each outlet. If the smoke starts blowing to the side instead of rising straight up, there is air coming in through the holes.
To fix an electrical outlet air leak, install foam gaskets in each outlet. Be sure to turn off the power at your circuit breaker before adding the gaskets. If the air leak is still there, you can try adding caulk in any cracks or gaps around the wall plate. Additional insulation in your walls may be needed if the air leak persists after these steps.
Use these tips to make sure your HVAC system isn't wasting excess energy in order to heat or cool your home. By addressing key air leaks throughout your space, you can increase the comfort level in your space while also reducing your energy bills.