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How to Seal Air Leaks throughout Your Home

Lower Utility Bills by Roof Repair, Window Maintenance, and Replacing Door Sweeps

© 2012 by Sarah Harris; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.

A wall patch; photo courtesy Sarah Harris

Your home is your fortress—nothing should be able to get in if you don’t want it to, and this is especially true of the elements and other things that have the ability to mess with the climate you experience inside your home.

Air and water are two of the things that really have a tendency to get into your home when you don’t want them to, and this might not be an OK option for you.

Which is fine—no home should be letting in the elements to your chagrin, so we’re going to talk about the ways you can fortify your domain. Every building has what’s known as an “envelope.”

This is the part of your structure that separates the interior from the exterior. You might simple thing of this as the “wall,” but it’s much more than that.

An Energy-Efficient Building Envelope

The building envelope is part of the “substrate,“ which is what holds up your house and makes it sturdy.

The building envelope also involves more layers than just the wall—there are all kinds of materials insulating your house and protecting it from the elements, and when those are compromised by an air or water leak you can find yourself in some serious trouble.

We’re going to talk about how you can set about finding those air leaks, and how to seal them when you do. They tend to show up in a few specific trouble spots, so knowing how to keep your eyes peeled will be really good for you, as a homeowner.

Leaks Raise Utility Bills

Some of the main trouble spots for air leaks are spaces where your building envelope is interrupted. Any kind of junction, where one material meets another, is a spot that can potentially let air and water into your home.

If you think your house has been a bit drafty lately, then check all these spots. Anywhere there’s a window frame, doorway, recessed light—anything that interrupts your building envelope should be tightly sealed.

Any space where this is a problem can cost you money in terms of your heating or cooling bills.

Perform a Roof Inspection

Your roof is an especially critical area; gravity + rain = expensive repairs. You should perform a roof inspection twice a year. Check for damaged shingles, loose or missing flashing, and things like hail damage.

If you feel comfortable patching up a leak on the roof yourself, you’re going to want to use something like Foster’s or Henry Rubber Wet Patch Roof Cement that will allow you to tar and/or patch the hole so nothing gets in or out.

Windows and Doors

If your problem is with a window frame, your solution might be one out of a few. For small problems, you can simply caulk or seal whatever area is letting the air in—this means you use a simple solution to fill up the gap so air doesn’t get in.

Do you have wood window frames? Always check for rot; you may be able to patch a small area. In extreme cases, you may need to replace a window sill.

Doors are also potential energy-drains. If a door is drafty at the bottom, replace the door sweep. If a door is old, it might be worth considering replacing it with a new Energy Star rated one.

Do you have any other tips on preparing your home for winter? Share them with our readers in the comment section below.

Another way to take care of a drafty interior is to make sure that all your recessed lights are sealed and caulked properly. If you can’t handle these projects, call in a reliable contractor. Your house insulation is an important part of its integrity and of your well-being, so you should take care of it right away.

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