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Seal Up Your Home Before Summer

May 3rd, 2019

In order to stay comfortable this summer without having the pay a high price (heating and cooling is the largest energy expense), you should inspect your home for air leaks and seal them up before summer. Cool air leaking out and warm air leaking in (vice versa during winter) can waste a lot of money and energy.

Now is a great time to make sure your home is properly sealed and insulated, such as air sealing and insulating your attic.

How to Find and Seal Up Air Leaks

When searching around your home for air leaks, use this useful air leakage map from energy.gov as a guide:

  • Whenever you are heating or cooling your home, make sure all windows and doors are closed.
  • You can test your home for air leaks by using an incense stick or thin toilet paper and holding it next to your doors, windows, utility connections, plumbing fixtures, ceiling fixtures, hatches, and any other place where you suspect an air leak. Make sure you turn the HVAC system off so the indoor air is as still as possible. If the smoke or paper begins to move when you hold it up to a seam, there’s an air leak.
  • Use weatherproof caulk and weatherstripping around all your doors and windows. If you have deteriorating weatherstripping, peel it off first and clean the surface before applying new weatherstripping.
  • Seal your air ducts with mastic sealant, not duct tape!
  • Purchase foam gaskets to seal the air leaks around your outlets.
  • Use light colored blinds and drapes to reflect the sun’s rays away from your home. You can also consider purchasing window solar screens to block up to 90% of the sun’s heat-producing rays. Learn more passive heating and cooling window strategies.
  • Inspect the flue on your fireplace for leaks as well. Make sure it creates a tight seal when not in use.
  • Replace your door sweep if necessary with a pliable rubber sealant. Opt for the more permanent door sweeps that you screw into the door instead of the self-adhesive type.
  • Do a perimeter check of your home and use expandable foam spray for any gaps that your find that are larger than 1/4 inch.
  • Read this before sealing and insulating your attic.

Watch this video to learn how to caulk the air leaks you find:

The Dangers of Too Much Air Sealing and Insulation

While it’s a good idea to maximize your home’s energy efficiency, you must be careful not to over-insulate your home. An airtight home is prone to higher levels of indoor air pollution, such as harmful gases and volatile organic compounds. While it may seem that the air inside your home is cleaner than the air outside, microbial pollutants like pet dander, mold, and pollen can build up in your home, creating a toxic environment “where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations” (EPA).

If you have an airtight home, you may spend less on heating and cooling, but your air won’t be very healthy. That’s why energy-efficient homes should have a whole-house balanced ventilation system.

After caulking, weatherstripping, and insulating your home, speak with a trusted HVAC professional to make sure you have proper ventilation levels for healthy indoor air quality. If you have any questions about sealing and insulating your home, don’t hesitate to Ask a Champion.

Service Champions is known for trustworthy, on-time heating and air conditioning service throughout the East Bay, South Bay, and Sacramento areas.

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