Visually Inspecting a Home for Air Leakage
April 22, 2016
For a typical homeowner, indoor drafts and strange pockets of airflow are usually obvious. And while the location of the source may not be clear, the discomfort is definitely clear. Obvious or not, finding the source of air leaks is the first step in resolving the problem. Doors and windows are certainly prone to drafts, but it's the spots that are more hidden that need to be identified. Visually inspecting a home for air leakage is adequate for a start. However, for a more thorough, comprehensive, and accurate assessment, it's far better to contract a qualified technician who can carry out a professional energy audit. This would include what the professionals call a "blower door test" which serves to depressurize the home, revealing all kinds of air leak locations.
A basic visual inspection of the home
Starting with the exterior of the home, a basic visual inspection should focus on areas where two distinct building materials meet - like corners, chimneys, and the foundation. On the interior of the home, the focus should be on any openings, gaps or cracks that could allow for air to leak: windows and doors; vents and fans; even weather stripping throughout the home.
Inspecting doors/windows for leaks
Frame movement will usually indicate a source of air leakage. And if light is shining around a doorframe or window frame, that's also a sign of air leakage. Here, the simple solution is to seal everything well with caulking and/or weather-stripping. Certainly, broken or damaged framing should be replaced - a good opportunity to upgrade with a performance product.
Indoor home pressurization testing
A home pressurization test is designed to identify air infiltration through holes, cracks and gaps. There are a number of ways for a homeowner to do this, although a professional approach is far preferable. The professionals have the right equipment and the experience to carry out a test that is both thorough and accurate. Test results will point to specific problem areas.
The professional home energy audit
Energy audits are typically two-stage. The first audit takes a few hours and addresses the entire home, including heating and cooling equipment. A homeowner report is prepared, with proposals on improving energy efficiency, at which time the energy-saving upgrades can be made in full or in part. The second energy audit will review and assess the work undertaken.
Post-audit retrofitting or upgrading
Resolving air leakage issues in a residential home is work best left to the experts. Here the team at Great Northern Insulation can be a very valuable asset. They are experienced with products and installations, and can recommend where and how to insulate for maximum energy efficiency. More importantly, the GNI team understands the significance of air sealing. From inspection to repairs, air leakage issues can no doubt be resolved with a DIY approach. But the truth is, nothing can compare with the professional approach of an experienced contractor. It's the insulation expert who can offer options and recommendations that are in the best interest of the homeowner - options that will provide measurable energy savings.