When winter hits with freezing temperatures, you mostly remain indoors, drinking a delicious cup of hot chocolate or apple cider by the fireplace, reading a book or watching your favourite TV show. But, have you walked from a room where you felt warm and comfortably cozy to other areas of your house where it feels significantly colder? Have you ever wondered why it feels so cold in that room? The answer is that room has excessive heat loss!
Every home has some degree of heat loss through the walls, floors, roof, windows, patio and outside doors; and depending how old and material used to build, some will have more heat loss than others. But when temperature fluctuates from one room to the next is when you have to be aware that something is going on.
Warm air moves to cold areas, so any little crack and gap will add to the amount of heat that gets lost. So first find the air leaks, you can hire an air sealing contractor or professional energy advisor, but also you can do it your self by making your own air leak detector.
Light up two or three incense sticks and hold them together for more smoke. Strong leaks will dissipate the smoke and the tip will glow but weaker leaks will make the smoke to travel away or more toward the leak. It is much easier to detect air leaks on cold and windy days.
Check the following:
Window glazing for tightness and around the casing and window seal
Around the door, including the door frame
Electrical outlets and switches
Exhaust fans and vents. It shouldn’t be any draft of cold air when they are not in used
Corners with imperfect seal
Light fixtures in the ceiling
Trim and baseboards
Cracks in the walls or ceilings
Attic doors and hatches
Above sliding pocket doors
Around plumbing pipes and ductwork
There are ways to control and minimize some of the leakiest areas:
Electrical Outlets: Use foam pads that are designed to fit between the cover plate and the receptacle or switch, there will be a better seal if you caulk the gasket before installing it.
Trim and baseboards: Seal these areas with a flexible caulk, that is paintable or of a matching colour. If you remove trim you can insulate big cracks with a can of spray foam or foam backer rod and seal them with caulking. If you remove the baseboards you will be able to caulk between the bottom wall plates and the floor.
Glazings: Check the seal has no cracks or missing areas. Repair them with glazing compound. First remove the old putting and then apply the new material with a putty knife.
Fireplaces: Close the chimney damper when a fireplace is not in used. If for any reason doesn’t close, have it fixed by a certified chimney professional. Check for air leaks where the chimney meets the wall and caulk this joint with a high-temperature caulking.
Attic hatch: Caulk around the frame and between the casing and the ceiling drywall. Use a weather-strip around the edges of the casing and then insulate the hatch.
Windows that are never used: Seal these windows with special strippable caulking in case you want you want to use open the window in the future. This will seal better than weather-striping.
Exterior doors: Use weather-strip around the door casing and at the bottom of the door.
Fixing air leaks around your living area will not only improve the comfort of your home keeping it warmer, but also you will see improvement in your energy bill and you will be contributing your share in leaving less environmental footprint.
This Blog Post was written by our contributing writer & electrician friend Humberto Certad in exchange for a donation given to Animal Rescue Foundation.