When it comes to energy loss in the home, air leaks are a big culprit. We are seemingly always trying to figure out ways to make our homes more air tight, both in the warmer Summer months that are approaching and during the colder months that have just passed.

There are two main types of leaks that can cause problems when it comes to your home’s performance – general air leaks around the home and duct leaks in your HVAC system’s duct work. While a bit different in nature, both can cause major efficiency problems. 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 an immense amount of experience dealing with both and can bring you the latest technologies and approaches to help your home perform to the best of its ability. In order to provide some immediate help to those of our readers in need, we’ve decided to put together a quick overview of some of the general air leak issues homeowners face. In this blog post, we’ll examine the common problem spots and fixes of general air leaks.

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.

Again, professionals like the team at BelRed can perform very specific and detailed tests, such as the blower door test, to identify many more air leak issues than a typical homeowner can with the naked eye as part of our comprehensive home energy performance assessment. Contact us today to get one set up. Stay tuned as we next will discuss air leaks in a home’s duct work—an equally challenging set of issues many homeowners face.

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