While you may know that drafts can significantly increase your energy bills in the winter, you may not know exactly how to track them down. If you don’t want to call in a professional, there are ways that you can find them yourself using simple tests with common household products. Finding drafts is critical when you want to reduce your heating costs during the long winter months.
Areas to Check
Here is a list of the areas that should be checked to find any gaps and cracks causing an air leak:
- Switch plates
- Around doors
- Around windows
- Electrical outlets
- Attic hatches
- Fans and vents
- Fireplace dampers
- Around wires and pipes
- Around mail slots
- Foundation seals
You’ll need to take some of the pressure out of the home before starting the tests. Close all the doors and windows in your home and turn on any bathroom or kitchen exhaust vents to create a negative pressure. It’s also a good idea to turn off your water heater and furnace if possible and any other combustible appliances. If you don’t know how to turn them off, turning off the vents may depressurize the house enough to use the smoke test.
How to Check for Drafts
It’s best to wait for a cold, windy day to do a thorough inspection for any air leaks. You can use a tea light, a candle or an incense stick to do a smoke test. Hold the source of smoke close to the area that you are investigating and look for any flickers in the smoke. If there is a serious draft, the smoke will automatically be blown away.
Another way to do a quick check of your doors and windows is to hold a piece of hair and see if it moves when you’re near a potential draft. This is especially useful if you don’t want to use a smoke test in certain areas for safety reasons.
If you’re checking your door, an easy way to spot a gap is to shut the door on a money bill. Then, try to pull it out. If you have to drag it out, you’re fine. If you can pull it out easily, it’s time to put on more weather stripping for added protection.
Putting up the Barriers
Once you’ve found the drafts in your home it’s time to cover them up. Foam sealant or silicone caulking can be used to handle drafts appearing in window frames or in other areas that don’t move. Draft stoppers and weather stripping can be used on movable objects such as doors and windows. You can also purchase decorative draft stoppers for windows that you can put at the bottom of the window frame to help stop the cold air from entering your home.
Getting rid of your gaps and cracks can help reduce your energy costs greatly during the winter and during the summer. The energy that you put in now to help stop the flow of cold air from invading your home will also stop the flow of heat from entering your home in the summer. You can call in professionals to help you find these cracks or you can perform it as a do-it-yourself project on a weekend. Either way, it’s important to track down all the drafts in your home and then seal them with the proper materials. It’s a low-cost way to make your home more energy efficient and if you have kids they’ll absolutely love helping you with this project.