Air infiltration or air leakage occurs when unwanted air moves in and out of your home, causing drafts. As a result, your heating and cooling systems have to work harder and longer to keep you and your home at a comfortable temperature with the direct effect of increasing your monthly utility bill. This extra work is an additional cost to you. Fortunately, you can limit many of these drafts through inexpensive and easy solutions. Listed below are a few of the common places air infiltration occurs.
1. Can you see light coming through the bottom of your door? If so, you need to replace or adjust your threshold weather-stripping.
2. Although there are several products that can do the job, one of the best solutions for stopping air leaks at the bottom of a door is a door shoe threshold. Check to make sure the ribbed door shoe that attaches to the bottom of your door is in good condition.
3. Once you have a new door shoe (or confirmed the existing one is in good condition), slide it into the threshold bracket. You may have to adjust the bracket up or down for a proper fit. The goal is to have a snug fit that minimizes the gap between the door and the floor while still allowing the ability to open and close the door.
4. When you can no longer see light through the bottom of the door, but can still open the door with minimal rubbing, you have adjusted the weather stripping properly. Note: a rolled up towel placed at the bottom of the door is not an effective weather stripping method.
5. Weather stripping is also needed around the door frame. Look for soft, flexible seal that won't harden over time. Also, look for elongated mounting holes that allow for adjustments of the weather stripping. Remember, a wood door may change its shape in response to varying moisture conditions, so it's important to maintain a tight seal without making the door difficult to close.
Light Switches and Outlets
1. Light switches and outlets on exterior walls are a common location of air leakage. Foam gaskets are an easy and inexpensive solution to minimize these air leaks. Foam gaskets are available at most hardware stores.
2. Remove the switch plate cover and apply the foam gasket over the switch.
3. Re-install the switch plate cover.
Attic access hatches are rarely weather stripped, leading to significant air leakage around the the edges of the access hatch. Install a self adhesive foam gasket at the edge of the attic opening. When you close your attic hatch, the gasket will prevent air leakage from your home into your attic space.
1. Any place where a pipe penetrates through a wall is an opportunity for air to leak in and out of your home. Use spray foam sealant to seal between the drywall and the pipe. The spray foam will expand and harden.
2. Once hardened, cut the excess foam off with a utility knife and push the escutcheon ring back into place.
1. If you feel a draft near your windows, the original caulking and weather stripping may no longer be doing its job. Remove the old caulking and apply new caulking at the interior and exterior locations where the window meets the house.
2. You can use almost any door weather stripping to create a good seal at the top and bottom of older double hung wood-framed windows. Foam or felt weather-stripping may also be used to seal gaps where the two sashes overlap. The sides of the sash are a bit trickier--they must slide along the material you select to seal them.
Many homes built between the 1960's and 1980's have aluminum-framed sliding windows with a fibrous seal built into the edges. This seals the window frame and the area between the two slider panels. You may be able to find this same material for replacement. We suggest that you consult a professional to help you find the right sealing materials for you windows.
Other Ways to Save
A crack in the wall or ceiling allows heated air to escape from your home. Patch or plaster cracks as necessary.
Be sure your fireplace damper is in good working condition and closes securely when not in use. A tightly sealed glass screen can help reduce heat loss from a leaky damper in your fireplace.
Remove window / wall air conditioners during the winter when they're not in use. Otherwise, air conditioners should be tightly covered on the outside and sealed on the inside for the winter.
Caulking is required wherever two different building materials or parts of the house meet. These include areas around outside door frames, windows, foundation sills, and electrical boxes. Penetrations, cracks, and electrical boxes. Penetrations, cracks, and other infiltration points can also be sealed using inexpensive and easy-to-apply caulking. Silicon caulk is recommended for exterior areas because of its high durability and flexibility. It should be used where there is movement between two surfaces due to stress--for example, the opening and closing of a door. Silicon caulk is more expensive than latex-based caulk, but it will maintain a tighter seal longer. Acrylic latex caulk is a good general-purpose caulk for plugging gaps in wood, plaster, and drywall. It will last for ten years or longer. If you plan to paint over the caulking once installed, check the label for compatibility.