5 Ways to Check Your Home for Costly Air Leaks

5 Ways to Check Your Home for Costly Air Leaks

Finding and fixing air leaks is one of the most cost-effective ways to conserve energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average home has so many air leaks, they add up a 2-foot-square hole. That’s like leaving a medium-sized window wide open 24 hours a day. Get rid of the uncomfortable drafts this winter with these five ways to check for air leaks.

1. Use Your Hand (Door/windows)
The most simple test, is to use your hand! When you have the heat on during a cold day, place your hand around the edges of all doors, windows, and bathroom and kitchen air vents and exhaust fans. You’ll be able to tell if you have an air leak if you feel cold air on your hand. You can also use this test to check for leaks around electrical outlets. Keep in mind that this test is best used for determining if there are large air leaks; small leaks might not always be detected with this method.

2. Light an Incense
Shut all windows, external doors, and fireplace flues, leaving internal doors open.
Turn off the furnace. Turn on all of the exhaust fans in your bathrooms and kitchen.

Light an incense stick and watch the smoke. If it moves sideways, it’s following an air current in the room. Follow the smoke trail and see if it leads to a gap or an exit. Pass the incense over the edges of doors, windows, vents and other areas in your house where you suspect air leaks. If the smoke is blown into the house or sucked out, then you have a leak.

3. Check the Snow on Your Roof / Look Where Icicles Form
After it snows, take a look at your roof. Check for areas on the roof where the snow has melted – hot spots. Besides some melting around venting and fireplace exhausts, you shouldn’t see bare patches on your roof. If you see snow melting in specific spots, that probably means there’s heat loss due to poor insulation or ventilation in the attic.

Icicles are another sign of heat loss, so keep an eye on them. Ice tends to accumulate on areas with less insulation and ventilation. If your roof is warm enough to melt the snow but it’s cold enough outside for snow to refreeze, your roof is losing heat and you’re losing on energy bills.

4. Flashlight Method
For this method, you’ll need a flashlight and a volunteer. After dark, walk around your house and shine the flashlight on all potential air leaks while someone else, inside your home, looks out for light entering through any gaps. Make sure your volunteer records where these gaps are so you know what leaks to seal.

5. Hold a Piece of Paper in Areas Where You Suspect a Leak
By simply using a piece of paper, observe how the paper moves when you hold it up to suspected air leak areas. If the paper moves, for instance, you’ve got air coming in around an electrical outlet or window frame, you know where to fix a leak.

Hire a Professional If you are concerned about an air leak, contact a professional to identify key problem areas in your home. Streamline Enterprises can perform a blower door test to help locate air leakage which is part of their Weatherization Services that can help keep your home warm this winter. Learn more about Streamline’s weatherization and air sealing services to prevent cold drafts and potential moisture issues from occurring in your home.