Imagine that you turn on your sink faucet in an attempt to fill a water bottle. However, as the water flows out of the faucet, what you don’t know is that there’s a hole at the bottom of the bottle. What this means is that the money you’re spending running water is being wasted, as none of it is actually being contained. Now, let’s use the same example but, this time, imagine that the bottle is your home and the water is your air flow. This is called air leakage.
Air leakage is the process of air improperly entering or escaping your home through openings or cracks and, each year, more than 40% of home energy is lost because of it. During these warm summer months, having cool air escape from your home (or warm air from outside enter in) forces your cooling systems to overwork and use more energy to compensate for the fluctuating internal temperature. Air sealing is the process of “tightening” the home to prevent any air leaks may happen through walls, doors, windows, and other openings. In other words, making sure that there’s no “water” leaking from your water bottle. The question is: how do you identify areas of leakage and properly seal your home?
Identifying Air Leakage
Air can leak through any gaps, cracks, openings in your home, or places where building components join together. These areas could include, but are not limited:
- Air vents and fans
- Doors/Attic Hatches
- Chimneys or Fireplaces
- Exterior corners
- Outdoor water faucets
- Electrical outlets
While many choose to identify air leakage by performing their own visual assessments on common areas (e.g. windows and doors) that tend to be easier to access, air leaks in attics, crawlspaces, floorboards, and basements can present more of a challenge. This is why hiring a professional is the most thorough method of determining air leakage throughout the home. A professional is the only personnel equipped to conduct a home energy assessment, a series of tests performed to evaluate the efficiency of your home and provide insight into how much air is improperly entering and escaping your home on a regular basis, and make qualified recommendations for effective air sealing.
Air Sealing Techniques
Once an air leak (or various air leaks) is discovered, it is important to seal it. Leaving leakages unaddressed will continue to add to the amount of wasted energy in your home and the steady increase in your monthly heating and cooling bills. And although hiring a certified professional is the most efficient way to ensure that all air leaks are sealed correctly, there are several air sealing tips that can be performed at home:
Caulk is a paste that can be applied to different cracks or opening found in the home to prevent air leakage and provide a tight seal. Caulk comes in a variety of compounds (e.g. silicone, latex, oil or resin-based, etc.) and can be applied to parts of the home that are stationary, such as door or window frames, so that the paste remains intact over an extended period of time.
Similar to caulk, weatherstripping is a method of air sealing. However, weatherstripping involves attaching adhesive molding to components of the home that move or are operable (such as doors and windows that open and shut) in order to fill any gaps that are allowing air in or out.
3) Foam gaskets
Air can also leak in or out through openings in the outlets and switch plates on your walls. A simple way to prevent air leakage in these areas is to install foam gaskets behind them. Each foam gasket acts as a cushion, preventing inside air from escaping the home.
Cameron Home Insulation wants to ensure that your home operates energy-efficient and cost-efficient.
Give us a call today at (443) 459-5800 or schedule a Cameron Home Energy Assessment to have one of our professionals evaluate your home’s air flow and overall level of air “tightness”!