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How To Seal An Air Leak For Energy Efficiency

In Louisiana, we’re used to dealing with our fair share of heat during the summer months. Rising energy prices have been leading to even larger electricity bills as we rely on air conditioning systems to keep our homes cool. That means that evaluating your home’s energy efficiency is more important right now than it’s ever been.

An average home has plenty of room for energy efficiency improvements. One of the simplest things a homeowner can do is take steps to minimize air leakage between the air-conditioned spaces indoors and the unforgiving temperatures outdoors. Doing so could save you between 20 and 30 percent on your annual heating and cooling costs. Since most air leakage occurs around a home’s windows and doors, fixing the problem just requires some basic tools and materials and a little DIY spirit. Here’s what you can do.

Detecting An Air Leak

The first step is to figure out where the trouble spots are. To do that, all you need is a stick of incense, a pen and paper, and a sharp eye. Begin closing all doors and windows in your home, and turning on any available kitchen or bathroom exhaust vents. Next, light the stick of incense and hold it near the edges of all of your home’s doors and windows, one by one. As you do this, take note of any unusual movement of the incense smoke, as this is indicative of an air leak in the vicinity. Any time you notice the smoke moving in any particular direction, examine the area carefully for signs of damage to the window and door seals in the area.

Once you’ve thoroughly inspected the interior of your home for signs of air leakage, walk around the exterior of your home and look for any damaged caulking or other signs that the exterior seals around your doors and windows have degraded or failed. Make detailed notes about the amount and types of damage you find so you will know what supplies you’ll need to remedy the problem.

Sealing Air Leaks Around Window and Door Frames

If your inspection turned up air leaks around any of your home’s windows or doors, you’ll need to take steps to seal them. If the gaps you’ve discovered are less than one-quarter inch in width, you can effectively seal them using a tube of silicone or acrylic latex caulk. When doing so, make sure to use a putty knife or a razor blade to remove any old caulking you find so the new caulk you apply can form a tight seal.

If you’ve found gaps that are wider than one-quarter inch, you’ll need to use a spray-foam sealant to fill them in. Standard caulking will not maintain its integrity if you try to use it to seal a large gap, but spray-foam sealants will expand into the space to form an airtight seal. Make sure to follow the directions included with the spray-foam sealant, because it can be difficult to judge the appropriate amount to use to seal a given space effectively.

Installing Weatherstripping

Once you’ve sealed the gaps around the frames of your home’s doors and windows, examine the doors and windows themselves. To make sure that your home’s doors and windows provide an effective barrier against air leakage, you can apply weatherstripping to fill any remaining gaps when they’re closed.

There is a variety of self-sticking felt and open-cell foam weatherstripping products that can be trimmed to fit into the spaces where your doors and windows meet their frames. If you’re looking for a more durable solution, there are also several different vinyl and metal weatherstripping products designed to suit windows and doors of any shape or size. While the cost and installation complexity of those products is greater than the foam variants, they will provide years of service keeping your home’s air leakage to a minimum.

Relax In Comfort

If you’ve done all you can to retrofit your home to correct the air leakage you’ve detected, you should be ready to face all seasons and weather conditions. The savings you could realize through these simple methods will continue to accrue as the years pass.

If you’re ready to take on your home’s air leakage issues or any other home projects, stop into any of our convenient locations and let our trained and knowledgeable staff help you pick out the products best suited to your home’s specific needs. We at Doug Ashy Building Materials would be happy to do whatever we can to make your home an efficient and comfortable one.


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