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Air Leaks: Find and Plug Them Pronto

Your heating and cooling dollars are flying up the chimney, out gaps in window frames, under entry doors, and even through every electrical outlet in your home.
Find and fill these air leaks to save energy and money. Here’s how to spot and stop the great escape of your conditioned air.

Out the Window

Look carefully for gaps between your windows and walls, which are perfect escape routes for conditioned air. If you can see daylight around, not only through windows, you’ve got a problem.

Another way to pinpoint window air leaks is to pass a lit candle or incense stick around window frames: If you see a flicker, air is flowing in and  out.

Stop these leaks by applying a fresh line of caulk between window frames and walls. If that doesn’t do the trick, apply weatherstripping to leaky areas.

Up the Chimney

Chimneys are meant to funnel gas from the indoors to the outdoors. So it’s no wonder that they also leak conditioned air.

Make sure your flue fits securely when it is closed. And if you don’t use your wood-burning fireplace often, consider closing it up.

Under Entry Doors

Entry doors can’t be airtight, or you wouldn’t be able to open them. But during the winter, that slight gap under the door will suck hot air outside and draw cold air inside. This is the birth of a draft.

You can cut air leaks by installing a door sweep, which makes it harder for air to move in and out.

Also, weatherstrip around frames to make sure the door sits snugly when it is closed.

Through Attic Access

The entrance to your attic space sucks huge amounts of conditioned air into unconditioned space: You could heat a bedroom with the amount of warm air you lose through attic access doors and hatches.

To reduce the flow, attach rigid foam insulation to the backs of hatches, knee walls and attic doors. Also, weatherstrip around door and hatch frames.

More Leaks To Plug

Here are other places in your home that likely are leaking air:

  • Recessed lighting: Replace with airtight fixtures.
  • Dryer vents and outdoor faucets: Seal edges with insulating foam.
  • Crawl spaces: Insulate with batting or rigid foam insulation.
  • Electrical outlets: Attach insulating gaskets beneath faceplates. When you’re not using the outlet, cover air-leaking holes with baby-proofing caps.

Inspect your home for air leaks at least once a year. When you plug these portals to the outside, you’ll save energy and money: Good for the planet and your pocketbook.

By Katie Bernard

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