As we’ve mentioned on the blog in the past, there are two main types of air leaks in the home–general air leaks in different areas of the home and duct leaks in your HVAC system’s duct work. These problems are sometimes not related and can occur in many different types of homes—both new and old.

It’s important to either be able to identify and fix these common problems yourself as a homeowner or, perhaps better yet, bring in knowledgeable professionals so you can be assured that all leaks are identified and fixed properly. At BelRed, we have extensive knowledge and experience in identifying where your biggest problems lie, including comprehensive and detailed tests like our Blower Door Test—all part of our home performance assessments.

In this post, we’re laying out a few general air leak problems so you can be aware of common issues.

Air leakage, sometimes referred to as infiltration, occurs when air from outside your home enters the home through cracks, faulty or low-performance windows, gaps, or other openings. Air leaks in your home can increase your energy expenditure greatly. In some cases, air infiltration can increase your home’s monthly energy bill by as much as 30 to 40 percent. During colder months, air creeps into the home, making it harder to heat the entire house. Your heating system has to work harder than it normally would without leaks to keep the temperature at a desirable level. The same can be said for keeping your home cool during warmer seasons with your home’s cooling system.

So where are the most common air leak and infiltration problem areas? These issues most commonly occur in or around one of the follow areas:

  • around plumbing or wires that enters the home from the outside
  • around windows and doors that are old or not properly sealed
  • in attics
  • by chimneys, chimney dampers or external oven vents
  • through poorly sealed recessed or can lighting
  • through electrical outlets or switches
  • in dropped ceilings throughout the home

Once you’ve identified the problem area(s) where infiltration is the biggest problem in your home, it’s important to know how to address these issues. The process of fixing air leaks is called air sealing, which involves using different materials and processes to stop air from getting into your home when it’s not supposed to.

There are many common materials that can be used to fix these common air leak issues. They include caulk, expanding foam, backer rod (crack filler), rigid foam insulation, weatherstripping materials, and mastic or special tapes. While selecting the right material for the job is crucial, knowing how to properly apply each material to each specific problem area will provide the best results and the most effective air sealing in your home.

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