Air leaks can happen in homes of any age. Unfortunately, these invisible leaks could be in your home right now. This can lead to some noteworthy problems over time. Fortunately, the winter season makes them easier for you to detect, and therefore fix.
Why Air Leaks Matter
Air leaks in your home have two significant consequences. The first is for your budget. Air leaks mean your home wastes warm air in winter and cold air in summer by letting it drift out. These leaks can dramatically affect your utility bill, depending on the size of the leaks.
The other factor is the various problems that can come through large enough leaks over time. No one wants to deal with insect infestation for example. Additionally, air leaks can create moisture problems inside your home which may in turn negatively affect your health. Not fixing your air leaks properly and promptly can lead to all kinds of issues down the line.
The most straightforward test for air leaks is to use your hand. With your heat on during a chilly day, large leaks should be evident. Running your hands over both door and window frames should reveal a significant temperature difference if there are leaks. You can then fix these large leaks using materials from home improvement stores.
Candles and incense are fantastic air leak detectors as well, even with smaller leaks like those found around light sockets or baseboards. For this test, any central air and fans need to be turned off. Then, you light the candle or stick. Trace the lit item around any suspected leaking areas slowly. If the flame dances or the smoke goes horizontal, then you found your leak. If it’s near an electrical fixture, you’ll need to be careful during repairs.
If the above tests do not suit your needs, there is another possibility. You can pick up electronic air leak detectors at your local home improvement center. While individual instructions may vary, generally you power the device on and point it where you suspect there is a leak. If there is no leak, the light on the air leak detector will not change. If there is, the light will show whether the device is detecting hotter or colder air than the surrounding area.
The Contractor Option
If you are unable to locate your air leak(s), you may wish to hire a contractor. Contractors may use specialized equipment such as a blower door. During the process, your home will be depressurized and assessed. This method can detect a wide variety of air leaks in various parts of your home.
A contractor can also guarantee their fixes. There are many possible materials to repair air leaks. An experienced contractor knows which ones work best for which situation. This knowledge is invaluable when you air seal your home. In the long run, choosing a contractor can save you a significant amount of money. However, using a contractor is by no means a necessity.