Importance of Plugging Those Leaks - July 13th 2011

Importance of Plugging Those Leaks

An inexpensive but often overlooked step in making your home more energy efficient is draft proofing.

Wherever you feel cold air coming in, you have a leak, and warm air will escape through the same gap. Drafts are big energy wasters that inflate your bills and make your home less comfortable than it could be.

There is an easy way to locate air leaks yourself, all you need are incense sticks. Significant leaks will cause the smoke to dissipate and the tips of the incense to glow. Slower leaks will cause the smoke to trail away or move toward the leak. You can now go around the house with your leak detector and identify and mark the air-leakage locations that should be sealed.

Or consider hiring a Certified ecoEnergy Advisor to conduct a Blower Door test. The Advisor will place a powerful fan in an outside doorway. After closing all windows and openings in the home the fan is turned on. You and the Advisor are then able to walk around the house feeling for problem areas where air is leaking through.

Caulking is used to seal leaks in walls, ceilings, and floors. Caulking should only be used on the inside of exterior surfaces to prevent air from escaping and also to avoid exposure to outside elements.

Weatherstripping should fit tightly around all doors and windows. For exterior doors use weatherstripping around the sides and top of the door.

If you notice a draft through an outside wall electrical outlet, it must be sealed. Make sure to turn off the power to the outlet by turning off the circuit breaker. There are special CSA approved foam pads that fit between the cover plate and receptacles. You will obtain a better seal if you caulk the gasket before installation.

Seal areas of air leakage around all trim. This can be done easily by sealing all the joints with a flexible caulking. Insulate wide cracks with a foam backer rod and seal them with caulking or polyurethane foam.

When your fireplace is not in use, close the damper or purchase a product called a Draftstopper - an inflatable pillow, designed to seal the fireplace when it is not being used.

Seal the attic hatch exactly as you would seal a door to the outside. Caulk around the frame and between the casing and the ceiling plaster board. Apply weatherstripping along the edges of either the casing or the access panel itself. The hatch itself should be insulated.