The average home will lose about 30% of its heating and cooling due to air leaks in their windows and doors. Air leaks are simply areas that are not sealed well enough, and allow air to move from the inside of your house to the outside, or vice versa.
Once you add hot or cold air to your via your HVAC system, the air leaks begin to do their damage. It’s basically a process of simple diffusion. For example, in the winter you want to keep the interior of your home warmer than the outside. Well, the second you put hot air next to cold air, they’ll begin the process of mixing in order to create an equilibrium.
The obvious downside is that the air inside your home will become colder to match the outside. Of course, your hot air is also warming up the outside, but due to the sheer volume of air outside compared to inside, the temp inside will drop dramatically, and the temp outside would be such and extremely small amount, it’s not even measurable by advanced equipment.
Your heating and cooling system is constantly fighting against this diffusion, which is why you need to keep firing up the furnace or air conditioner to maintain a steady temperature throughout the day. It’s impossible to stop all transfer of hot and cold air, mostly because radiant heat via the walls and floor will still happen, and of course you’ll use your doors to enter and exit your home.
However, reducing air leaks can dramatically reduce how often you heating and cooling system will cycle on to maintain your desired temperature. So how exactly do you find air leaks if you can’t see them?
Find Air Leaks With a Visual Inspection
There are a number of ways to find out where air will leak in your home. The most common place is around your windows and doors, as they are literal holes in your house that were put there to insert the window and door.
Visually inspect around each window and door for obvious signs of a problem. This will include the caulking, if any, the weatherstripping on your door, and any gaps around the framing. On a windy day, you may even hear a slight whistle if the air leak is large enough.
If you see daylight through any cracks around the window or door, that’s a definite sign of an air leak. If light can get through, air absolutely can do the same.
Use Incense to Find Air Leaks
Not all leaks are visible to the naked eye, and you may need to get a little more involved. Close all the windows and doors in your home and turn on all the exhaust fans – in your bathroom, above your stove, and anywhere else you have them.
Once the fans are going, you’ll essentially be sucking all the air out of your home, and new air must come in. Although no house is perfectly sealed, you’ll want to move incense around the perimeter of windows and doors and watch for air movement. If you find some, it likely means there’s a gap between the window or door, and the frame it sits in.
Gaps can happen over time as a house or the insulation settles.
Fix the Air Leaks by Filling Gaps
If you do find a leak, the easiest way to deal with it is to fill the gap with an off-the-shelf spray foam that is meant for this application. Although standard fiberglass insulation will help, spray foam creates an air-tight seal to completely stop air flow.
Before ripping apart your windows and doors, you may want to just double check the trim on the outside of the window. A simple bead of caulk may be all that’s needed to solve the problem.
If your windows are really old, there’s only so much you can do, and you may want to look into more energy efficient windows. New windows can often pay for themselves in energy savings, so they’re worth a look. Drop in to our showroom if you have any questions and speak with our experts if you have any questions!