Great Home Insulation Is About Catching Every Leak
It’s something that everyone knows, but chooses not to be aware of – homes constantly exchange the air inside with fresh air from the outside. People just wonder how much exchange could happen in a cozily warm home where every door and window is closed. Even with all the home insulation and the double-glazed windows that fit perfectly, your typical American home loses about a third of the air it holds within every hour. It’s actually a good thing for your health – fresh air from the outside keeps the environment inside your home free of fungus, dust, mold and other unwanted stuff.
Some people who haven’t made sure that every every seam and joint is properly sealed, will live in homes that lose about three-quarters of their air every hour. Which is even healthier. But when you think of what that means for your heating and your cooling bill, it should fairly be alarming. How can you possibly afford to heat your home when all you are doing is heating it and then wasting it all an hour later? What you need to do is to take your home insulation very seriously and find out how exactly all that good toasty air leaves your home. And then you need to plug those holes.
Every home in America is built to a code. It has foam or fiberglass insulation, every joint and seam is caulked extravagantly. Where exactly can those leaks be? What you need is a laser thermal detector that will help you identify where the leaky spots. Lots of tool companies make these, and they sell. If you don’t feel like spending some money on something like this, all you need to do is to light up a stick of incense (or a cigarette) on a day when it’s windy outside, and stick it near every seam in your house. Wherever the air from outside streams and, you’ll catch the draft in the way the smoke is disturbed. Everyone’s likely to be ready to throw up before you’re done what with the smelly cigarette smoke and all though.
So what places around the house are likely to be the biggest culprits? The first place to check is your fireplace if you have one. Look for the seam where the fireplace connects to the wall. And also look at the seams of your baseboard heaters. If you live in a detached house though, your attic or basement are likely to be the biggest sources of wasted heat. In most homes, the trapdoor that allows you access to your attic is likely to be one that opens inside your house. Most people trying to achieve some great home insulation, often leave the attic access door out when they try to catch every leak. Sometimes, those doors don’t even fit properly.
Your basement is likely to be a source of wasted warmth too. What happens is, your house settles over the years. Wherever there are pipes leading into your basement or leaving it, a sizzling house is likely to open up cracks in the walls. In a dark basement, you should even be able to see light streaming in from the outside. You mustn’t be surprised if the holes are big enough for mice to waltz in everyday by. And then of course, you need to pay attention to how well the basement door is built. What do you do about your fireplace? It will leak even if you get an expensive hearth cover or if you keep the flue closed.
Now that you know of all the sources of the leaks, how do you plug them? The first thing you want to do is to make sure that there is no draft coming in from under the front door. Every threshold today is designed to fit perfectly under door. You need to turn the screws on the threshold to make it rise up and completely seal the space. If you don’t have such a threshold, a door sweep that you can buy at a hardware store should help you. And buy weatherstripping for every door and window. To make sure that all the molding and the window frames are snugly installed, use silicone caulking. For anything bigger, try expanding foam insulation. You could also hire contractors to seal all leaky central heating duct pipes. And finally, what do you do about that leaky fireplace flue? You could get an inflatable fireplace plug for a few dollars.