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Oct 20, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Various
Location: United States

Is Your House Leaking?

Most American's use more energy for space heating than anything else, and if you've got air leaks in your house, that means energy and money are leaking out with that heat. When making choices about repairs and upgrades to make your home more energy-efficient, start off by looking for leaks.

Where should you look for leaks? According the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy division of the US Department of Energy, start with the following:

  • Electrical outlets
  • Switch plates
  • Window frames
  • Baseboards
  • Weather stripping around doors
  • Fireplace dampers
  • Attic hatches
  • Wall- or window-mounted air conditioners.

Some leaks you'll be able to feel easily. Others may require a few tricks. Try dampening your hand when feeling for leaks. Or, use the following method to increase the flow of air:

  1. First, close all exterior doors, windows, and fireplace flues.
  2. Turn off all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters.
  3. Then turn on all exhaust fans (generally located in the kitchen and bathrooms) or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms.

You may also want to burn incense while doing this: the smoke will float to spots where air is moving. You'll also want to check your home's exterior for leak points, such as:

  • All exterior corners
  • Where siding and chimneys meet
  • Areas where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet.

Of course, you don't want to seal your house so tightly that you create an unhealthy situation from indoor air pollution or "backdraft" from fuel-burning appliances (stoves, furnaces, etc.). According to EERE:

When sealing any home, you must always be aware of the danger of indoor air pollution and combustion appliance "backdrafts." Backdrafting is when the various combustion appliances and exhaust fans in the home compete for air. An exhaust fan may pull the combustion gases back into the living space. This can obviously create a very dangerous and unhealthy situation in the home.

In homes where a fuel is burned (i.e., natural gas, fuel oil, propane, or wood) for heating, be certain the appliance has an adequate air supply. Generally, one square inch of vent opening is required for each 1,000 Btu of appliance input heat. When in doubt, contact your local utility company, energy professional, or ventilation contractor.

Leak-hunting isn't just for homeowners or house renters: apartments can have leaks, too. If you rent, you'll probably want to report any leaks to your landlord.

Your Action for Today:
Go Hunting for Leaks

Using the methods and information above, go looking for leaks in your home. When you find them, you'll want to seal or fill them with the proper material: caulk or weather stripping will work in most cases.

Record your activities in your Green Journal. And keep in mind that you may want to call in a professional for some leaks and repairs.

Tomorrow: Inspect Your Insulation

Sincerely,

Green Options

The GO Team
GreenOptions.com

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Posted: Oct 20, 2007 8:12pm

 

 
 
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