Weatherizing your Northeast Ohio home may not be the most high-tech project you'll ever undertake, but it can yield significant benefits. A large part of it is caulking, weatherstripping and insulating tasks, often pretty intuitive (but not always) and not rocket science. The fact remains, reducing air infiltration is the most cost-effective step you can take to cut your home’s heating/cooling load and increase your comfort. Follow this simple procedure to weatherize your home.
Seek the leaks
You could ask your HVAC contractor to do a blower door test to determine the exact spots in your home where air is infiltrating. Your contractor would then recommend remedies for each issue. He might also employ an infrared camera to further identify and dramatize the existing weaknesses in your your home's integrity. Or you can do a simpler inspection yourself. Most air infiltration follows predictable paths. Go through your home and check these common sources of air leaks:
- Holes in the attic floor and wall, as well as poor seals around the attic hatch or door
- Recessed lights
- Electric outlets
- Gaps around window jambs and door jambs and thresholds
- Points of entry for plumbing pipes and electrical wires
- Spaces adjacent to chimney's
- Cracks in the siding
Seal the leaks
Use weatherstripping to seal the leaks around parts of your home that move, such as windows. Choose a type that can stand up to Northeast Ohio temperatures, as well as wear and tear. Your options include:
- Felt and open-cell foam weatherstripping. This is inexpensive, but it doesn't hold up well.
- Vinyl is more expensive, but it holds up better and tends to resist moisture.
- Metal weatherstripping — which can be aluminum, stainless steel, copper or bronze — tends to be long-lasting.
Many caulking compounds come in disposable cartridges and can be used to fill gaps that are less that a quarter-inch wide. Caulk is also available in aerosol cans, squeeze tubes and ropes. It comes in water-based and solvent-based forms.
Applying caulk isn't really difficult, but it may require some practice if you're a novice. Clean the area you're planning to caulk, and remove any existing caulk. Hold the gun at a 45-degree angle and apply in a continuous stream. Use a putty knife to scrape away excess.
The final step in your weatherization strategy is insulating. The most important spots are walls and floors adjacent to unheated spaces, such as the attic. Insulating your ductwork can also go a long way toward making your home more comfortable and reducing your energy loss.
Check Your Work
All homes/buildings need to breathe to a degree. If they don't breathe enough, it can create a host of problems from annoying to downright unsafe or unhealthy ones. At the end of any sealing project it is important to make sure that you haven't gone too far in reducing the needed air for ventilation and combustion for heating appliances. Building scientist have devised a formal procedure for this to be measured and it is essential that you have this done by a trained and certified professional. Avoiding this last important step can compromise the health and safety of those that live in the home and should not be ignored!
Paul Wadsworth is the President and Owner of P.K. Wadsworth Heating and Cooling. For 37 years, Paul has been providing heating and cooling services to the Greater Cleveland area. P.K. Wadsworth has been a trusted Cleveland HVAC service company for 75 years. The company understand the area's construction and local heating and air conditioning needs. Paul has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a B.S., Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. He's been President of the Cleveland Air Conditioning Contractors of America and a founding member of the local chapter. Paul was born and raised in Cleveland and has been active in the local community. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and two sons.
The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.