Air leaks are one of the biggest reasons conditioned air goes to waste. Gaps and cracks in the walls, ceiling, ductwork and around windows and doors allow the air you pay to heat or cool to escape to the outside.
Fortunately, you can seal air leaks in many places with caulk and weatherstripping. Here’s what you need to know.
Check Your Home for Air Leaks
The easiest way to find air leaks is to conduct a visual inspection. Look for cracks anywhere two materials meet in the ceiling, walls and floor.
- Light an incense stick and watch for swirling smoke which reveals air leaks.
- Close each exterior door in your home on a dollar bill. If you can easily pull it out, the weatherstripping needs to be replaced.
Using Caulk to Seal Air Leaks
Caulk comes in a canister that you apply with a caulk gun to stationary joints. Various types of caulk are available, so read labels carefully to determine which type is best for the application you have in mind.
When applying caulk, remember these tips:
- Only caulk clean, dry surfaces.
- Apply the caulk in a continuous stream, avoiding stops and starts to achieve a smooth finish.
- Make sure the gap or crack is filled completely. Reapply another layer if necessary.
- Allow a full day for the caulk to dry.
Using Weatherstripping to Seal Air Leaks
Weatherstripping seals movable window and door joints. It typically comes in a long rope with a peel-off side that reveals an adhesive surface. Various types and materials are available with different levels of durability and weather resistance. When installed correctly, the weatherstripping should create a tight seal when you close operable windows and exterior doors.
When applying weatherstripping, remember these tips:
- Only apply weatherstripping to clean, dry surfaces.
- Measure twice and cut once to avoid wasting material.
- Test the material’s compression by closing a dollar bill in the newly weatherstripped door. You should not be able to pull it out without opening the door.
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