Right now, you may be sitting in your cozy living room watching television, but wondering why your feet are freezing. Perhaps that perpetual draft in the family room has you always putting on a sweater, or three. If you’re feeling air leaks in your living space, imagine what’s escaping through your attic and basement! You may think your home is air tight, but the fact is, quite a lot of heat (or air conditioning) is leaking out through those little gaps and cracks all over the house, especially in unheated areas. This is costing your family precious energy, not to mention, big bucks. Sealing off air leaks is a relatively easy task to accomplish, once you find them. Below are 10 places you can look.
Common Places Prone to Air Leaks:
- Behind knee walls (i.e. the short, three-foot wall used to support roof rafters and open stud cavities)
- Attic hatch
- Wiring holes, such as those found around cable and phone wires
- Plumbing vent
- Open soffit (the box that hides recessed lights)
- Recessed lights
- Furnace flue or duct chase-ways (the hollow box or wall feature that hides ducts and chimneys)
- Basement rim joists (where the foundation meets the wood framing)
Once you determine where your house may be experiencing air leaks, you can look to a variety of methods for plugging up these leaks in the most cost effective and timely manner. Depending on where a leak is and the severity, there are certain options most suited, per below.
What Plugs Air Leaks Quickly?
- Caulk fills gaps best that are less than 1/4-inch wide, such as those cut around electrical boxes and cable wires, and can be used anywhere around the house. Use silicone caulk with nonporous materials like metal flashing and in places where temperature extremes exist. Acrylic latex caulk cleans up with water.
- Sometimes, you may need to remove old caulk before running a new bead. A sealant saw removes sealant, caulking and glazing putty as well as damaged acrylic or silicon sealants quickly, saving you time and effort.
- Low-expansion polyurethane foam in a can is great for plugging openings 1/4-inch to three inches wide, like those around plumbing pipes and vents in the basement or attic.
- Weather-stripping and foam weather-stripping can alleviate air leaks around doors and windows, including the attic access door, pull-down attic stairs and the inside door to a basement or garage. You can also seal the attic door with caulking, or you can buy a pre-insulated hatch cover kit. If a draft comes in at the bottom of a door, install a new door sweep.
- Unfaced fiberglass insulation stuffed into plastic garbage bags, a critical step for efficiency, can block air leaks behind knee walls, above dropped ceilings, soffits and open stud cavities. For large gaps, use scraps of drywall or pieces of reflective foil insulation.
- Aluminum flashing can close the gaps created between wood framing, metal flues and brick chimneys due to building code requirements. Seal the flashing in place with high-temperature silicone caulk.
- An airtight baffle can insulate recessed lights that are not labeled ICAT, for “insulation contact and air tight.” Look for the label next to the bulb; if you don’t see one, assume the light leaks. Remove the bulb, push the baffle up into the housing, and replace the bulb.
As always, contact us for more information if you are having an air leak problem, or comment below. Stay warm and cozy this winter, fix those leaks now before your energy bill gets too high!
About the Author
Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.