No matter how efficient your HVAC system is, plugging air leaks around your home is important to minimize wasted energy. Caulking around windows and doors is an excellent first step, but there are many other places where your home could be leaking air that are not as easy to notice. Here are some simple tips for locating air leaks in your home.
Look for Dirty Spots in Attic Insulation
Just because your attic is lined with an ample amount of insulation doesn't mean that it is airtight. If a hole has appeared underneath the insulation, there may be enough air passing through it to reduce how efficiently your HVAC system heats or cools your home. Fortunately, you can detect places where air is entering or exiting through insulation with a quick visual inspection.
Airflow through fiberglass insulation will leave traces of dust and other airborne contaminants in the insulation. This will leave dark spots in the insulation in the areas where the airflow is the highest, similarly to how your furnace filter becomes clogged with dust and dirt over time. If you see dark spots in your attic insulation, lift it to look for holes that can be patched with caulk or expanding foam.
Perform a Home Depressurization Test
Air will naturally flow from areas of high pressure to areas of lower pressure. This means that the greater the air pressure difference is between the inside of your home and outside, the faster air leakage will occur. A home depressurization test takes advantage of this principle to make the detection of air leaks much easier.
The home depressurization test performed by contractors is known as a blower door test, but you can perform a simplified version of this test without any expensive equipment. First, close all windows, doors, fireplace flues, and other ventilation sources in your home. Next, turn on all exhaust fans in your kitchen(s), bathroom(s), and other rooms. This will create low indoor air pressure that will cause air to enter more quickly through any drafty areas throughout the house.
While your home is depressurized, you can light an incense stick and pass it close to any areas that you suspect may be leaking air. Any time you notice that the smoke is wavering or being blown by air, you can be confident that you have found an air leak. In addition to the edges of windows and doors, the best places to check are around light fixtures, electrical outlets, baseboards, and holes where plumbing or electric lines enter or exit a room.
Locating and sealing as many air leaks in your home as possible is one of the best ways to ensure your HVAC system is not wasting energy by allowing heated or cooled air to escape outdoors. Contact an HVAC services company like One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating (West Pasco) for more information.