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Cleveland HVAC Blog

Seal Home Air Leaks: Keep the Cold Air Out and the Heated Air In

Posted by Paul Wadsworth on Mon, Oct 28, 2013 @ 02:12 PM

In the winter, cold air finds its way inside through small gaps and cracks in your home’s outer envelope. Air leaks waste a lot of energy, so it’s time to seal home air leaks and boost home efficiency this winter. Here’s how.

Where to Look for Air Leaks

Before you do any air sealing, find out where your home leaks. Check around the following areas for air leakage:

  • Windows and doors
  • Plumbing and wiring penetrations
  • Ductwork
  • Exhaust fans
  • Fireplace flues
  • Electrical outlets on exterior walls

How to Check for Leaks

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Start with a visual inspection. Look for any cracks around the above mentioned areas, both inside and outside your home. Create a draft checker by lighting an incense stick and holding it near the areas where you suspect a leak. Watch how the smoke swirls for signs of air leaks from the outside. This is particularly effective when performed on a windy day.

How to Seal Home Air Leaks With Caulk

Caulk is a useful tool for sealing joints 1/4-inch wide or less. Read product labels carefully to find the right type of caulk for the job. Then, when it comes time to apply the caulk:

  • Clean and prep the surface by removing any old, chipping caulk.
  • Apply the caulk in a smooth, continuous stream.
  • Fill all gaps completely, reapplying if necessary.
  • Smooth out the application with a dampened fingertip or spoon.

How to Seal Home Air Leaks With Weatherstripping

Weatherstripping is another material you need to seal home air leaks. It usually comes in a long strip with an adhesive backing. Different materials vary in durability and weather resistance. Use permanent, high-quality weatherstripping for applications around windows and doors. When applying the product:

  • Remove old weatherstripping and clean the surface you plan to adhere the new product to.
  • Measure twice and cut once to prevent wasting material.
  • Test the finished product by sticking a dollar bill in the closed door. You shouldn't be able to remove it without opening the door.

If you have done a comprehensive sealing job, make sure to have a heating professional check to make sure that heating appliances in the home still have enough air for proper combustion. This is often referred to as a CAZ (for Combustion Appliance Zone) test and is often required by code authorities and utilities after any weatherization effort is completed.

For more on how to seal home air leaks, please contact P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling. We proudly serve the home comfort needs of homeowners throughout the greater Cleveland area.

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Paul WadsworthPaul 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 over 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. Paul is the Chairman of COSE's Energy Advisory Council. 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.

Topics: ductwork, Cleveland Winter Preparation, seal home air leaks, air leaks

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