There are several reasons why rooms do not remain cool or heated for longer periods of time; why the heating or air-conditioning system turns on and off too frequently. The main cause for this occurrence is air leaks, where conditioned air is escaping from the building. Sealing drafty windows, exterior doors, or attic vents seems to be one way to resolve this issue; however, sometimes the problem is not completely solved at which time a test for air leaks should be initiated. Although this can be done by a professional, there are several quick and easy do-it-yourself (DIY) methods for detecting air leaks!
Point of Entry
There are several spots in a building that should be inspected for the breach of air. Following are some common points of exit according to the United States Department of Energy:
- Windows/Doors – All sides of exterior doors and windows should be considered as even weather or draft guards are not complete assurance that air cannot escape.
- Utility Outlets – Cracks and gaps on electrical, cable, phone, and gas outlets as well as outdoor water faucets are a very likely source of escaping air.
- Vents and Fans – Vents and exhaust fans that penetrate the walls if not properly sealed can allow air to escape.
- HVAC – Around the heating and cooling system and its entry points via hoses into the building can be compromised.
- Recessed Fixtures – Recessed light fixtures in any outside area can be one of the culprits.
- Flashing – Flashing around chimneys, exhaust vents and other protruding objects does deteriorate and allow air leakage.
- Structural Breaks – Any obviously broken ceiling, attic doors, and other points of entry could allow for air to leak.
Finding the Leak
A method for detecting air leaks is by visual inspection; however, there are other ways to expose drafts:
- Thermal Detector – This is an effective way to search for gap leaks. The device is used by pointing it at suspected areas and observing color changes.
- Infrared Scans – Another method to identify leaks from the air-barrier system is by utilizing infrared cameras.
- House Depressurization – This can be done by turning off the furnace on a very windy day, closing all the windows and doors, turning on all of the exhaust fans, and lighting an incense burner near possible points of escape. Drafts can be detected by observing whether smoke from the burner is sucked in or blown out of the room.
- Nighttime Flashlights – Although this method is seldom used, it is still considered to be useful in exposing drafts. This is done at night by shining a flashlight from the inside while another person checks from the outside for any rays of light penetrating through any cracks or gaps.
- Smoke Gun – This device can be used to shoot smoke at potential areas and again check for any leaking smoke outside of the building.
- Contact a Professional – One of the best ways to solve this issue is to call a professional who can conduct a blower door test to measure air-tightness and outflow rate. By using a blower door test, energy efficiency can be calculated and analyzed to assess a building’s efficiency rating. The less leakage, the more energy efficiency there is within the building.
The best way to address a problem like this so that heating and cooling expenses can be decrease is through early detection which can be done by visual inspections and sealing all cracks, gaps and other points of entry. The act of sealing escape paths can save as much as fifty percent of utility costs. This can be accomplished by using several sealant methods such as: weather stripping; applying insulating gaskets to all outlets; and using expanding foam to seal any apparent holes. While there are many do-it-yourself methods for detecting leaks, contacting a nearby roofing professional to perform such an assessment is still the best way to ensure that a house has been properly checked for air leaks. These experts can also suggest other ways to maintain an energy-efficient building.
Are you looking for a Houston roof company to perform an expert assessment of possible air leaks in your home? Schulte Roofing of Navasota provides experienced help to the greater Houston area and can help customers with all of their roofing problems!