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Do-It-Yourself Tips: Detecting Air Leaks

One of the easiest ways to start saving money on your monthly electric bill is to seal air leaks in your home. And the first step to saving energy by sealing air leaks is to discover where those leaks are. To help, many people get a professional home energy audit. In such audits, a blower door test can be used to depressurize the home and spot leaks. But, if you prefer to do things on your own, there are several tips that do-it-yourselfers like you can use to detect air leaks in your home.

How to Depressurize Your Home in Three Easy Steps

The first step to spotting air leaks is to depressurize you home so that air escaping outside or blowing inside can be properly identified. You can accomplish this in three easy steps:

1. Turn off your air conditioner or furnace
2. Close all windows and doors
3. Turn on all exhaust fans that blow air outside, including bathroom fans and stove vents

How to Identify Sources of Possible Air Leaks

Besides checking common sources of air leaks, such as around windows and doors, you should go through your home with a clipboard and pen and make a list of all the areas where materials meet. These areas are prime locations for air leaks:

- Where brick and wood siding meet
- Where the foundation and walls meet
- Where the chimney and siding meet
- Where electric and gas service enters the home
- Electric outlets
- Dryer vents
- Mail chutes
- Cable TV lines
- Phone lines
- Outdoor water faucets
- Air conditioners
- Vents and fans

Three Ways to Inspect Sources for Air Leaks

There are a few simple ways for DIYers to check for air leaks at potential problem spots:

1. The flashlight method is a basic way to check for air leaks. Although you’ll need a second person, and the flashlight method is effective only for identifying large leaks around windows and doors, it usually works pretty well. One person stands inside the home and one person stands outside the home. The person inside the home passes a flashlight over potential gaps while the other person observes. If there’s a large crack, the person outside will be able to see a beam of light.
2. The paper method is another easy way to check for large leaks around windows and doors. Simply close a window or door on a piece of paper. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it, you’ve got a leak.
3. The incense method is perhaps the most effective way for DIYers to find air leaks. All you have to do is light an incense stick and pass it around the edges of possible leak sources. If the smoke is either sucked out or blown into the room, you’ve got an air leak.


Energy Savers website, “Detecting Air Leaks.”, “Detecting Air Leakage in Your Home.”

3/24/2011 8:17:00 AM
in Residential