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Weatherizing Your Home

Does your home feel drafty in winter? Is it difficult to cool in summer? These problems can be caused by cracks or holes in a home's building envelope?exterior walls, windows, doors, roof, and floor. By locating and sealing air leaks, a homeowner can make a home more comfortable and save on the monthly energy bill.

Locating Air Leaks

The most common places for air leaks are around doors and windows, but leaks can also be found around:


Recessed lights and light fixtures.

Attic entrances.

Electric wires and boxes.

Vents and fans.

Plumbing utilities.

Water and furnace flues.

Electrical outlets.

To locate air leaks, conduct an air leakage survey such as the one developed by Urban Options. It involves inspection of potential problem areas for cracks or gaps. Burning a stick of incense near potential problems can help locate invisible leaks. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, there is an air leak that may need to be repaired. A depressurization test is another way to locate leaks. This involves a homeowner shutting all the windows and doors and then turning on all fans that blow air outside. A professional may also be hired to conduct a blower door test, a more technical depressurization test that helps quantify the extent of leaks by measuring the air pressure difference between the homes interior and exterior.

Air Sealing

Weatherization?which seals the air leaks?along with insulation can save considerable energy. Depending on the age of a house, a homeowner can save between 10 to 20 percent on energy costs by air sealing. Below are several weatherization steps a homeowner can take to reduce air leaks:

  • Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows that leak air.
  • Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring penetrates through exterior walls, floors, and ceilings.
  • Install rubber gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on exterior walls.
  • Close the fireplace flue damper when the fireplace is not in use.
  • Weather-strip around the attic door.

For more information about weatherization, consult these Web sites:

Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Energy and Money at Home.

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Building Technology, State, and Community Programs.

Forest Products Laboratory Fact Sheet: The Ins and Outs of Caulking.

Home Energy Magazine Consumer Information.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Fact Sheet on Insulation.

University of Nebraska Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Guides on Weatherizing Your Home.

Urban Options Weatherization Guide.

Weatherizing Your Home: Caulk and Weather Strip.

Content updated on 4/7/2006

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