Tips for sealing air leaks

January 30th, 2015 by admin

Thirty percent of a home's heating and cooling energy is lost due to air leaks, Jeanne Huber of Houselogic explains. Given this, "fixing air leaks is on par with insulating an attic as must-do attic tasks," Huber says, and she offers some helpful tips for homeowners.

How to find air leaks:

From below your attic, be sure to check the ceilings and note the locations of all light fixtures, ceiling fans and electrical outlets. Then, from the attic-side of your ceiling, find these fixtures. You may have to pull back existing insulation to access them.

Huber explains that electrical connections for fixtures, fans, and outlets all necessitate a hole in your ceiling drywall. "Each of these cutouts is a likely air leak," Huber writes. "You can stop air leaks by sealing the cutouts from above with acrylic latex or silicone caulk, or with low-expansion polyurethane foam, depending on the size of the gap."

In addition, check for anything that penetrates the ceiling, including:

  • Pipes
  • Vent stacks
  • Flues and chimneys
  • Electrical wiring
  • Heating and air conditioning ducts
  • Access hatch

Huber notes that gaps around these locations should also be sealed from above.

How to plug large gaps:

Low-expansion polyurethane foam in a can is ideal for plugging larger openings, usually 1/4-inch to 3 inches wide, typically found around plumbing pipes and vents. It's also an inexpensive solution, as a standard 12-ounce can costs around $5. 

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