Whether you feel a draft while sitting on your couch or an unwelcome breeze while walking upstairs, you likely have felt some of the symptoms of air leakage. And because air leakage causes energy waste, you’ve certainly felt its impact on your energy bills.
Luckily, you’re not alone and there’s an affordable fix. In our work in Long Island, we find that the typical home is 2-3 times as leaky as it should be. It’s like keeping a window open all year round!
Why is this a problem?
A healthy home needs to have fresh air circulating from the outside. If your home has too much air circulating from the outside, your home will be drafty and your energy bills will be higher than they need to be.
In the wintertime, warm air will escape from your living space into your attic, and will be replaced by cold air rushing in from the basement. Not only will you shiver as you feel the drafts come in, but your heating system will need to burn more fuel to fight the invasion of cold air.
During the summer, it works in reverse: warm air will force its way into your house through the attic, pushing your cool and expensive conditioned air out of your home. This means that your air conditioner will need to work harder to keep you from sweating. And that extra air conditioning costs you your hard-earned money!
Can’t I just put more insulation in my attic?
Unfortunately, excess air leakage is a problem that more insulation will not solve. Insulation is porous, so air flows through it easily.
To take care of this, you’ll need to painstakingly seal up the many air leaks with one-part foam. Air sealing work isn’t complicated, but it’s labor intensive—in a typical home in Long Island, we install over half a mile of sealing foam.
It’s not your windows! Blame your attic.
To most homeowners’ surprise, the majority of air leakage starts in the attic. Your attic is full of holes, cracks, and gaps which allow air to leak in and out of your living space. Here are few examples of places you’ll find attic air leaks:
It’s common to find gaps between the drywall and top plates (beams in your attic floor). If you lift up your insulation, you will likely find long, thin gaps where air flows in from your attic and into the space between your walls.
Copyright Sealed Inc., 2016.
Recessed Lighting & Wire and Pipe Openings
Recessed lights are also common culprits. Simply put, recessed lights are a hole between your ceiling and your attic, and if the lights are not properly sealed and capped, your lights will be a major source of leakage.
In some cases, the gaps around a lighting fixture are so large that you can see from the attic directly into the living space!
It’s also common to find gaps where pipes and electrical wires enter the attic. These are smaller, but significant sources of air leakage:
Do I need a professional to do this?
Air sealing is not complicated, but it’s painstaking. Done properly, it requires 20 hours spent on hands and knees in a tight attic spaces that are either frigid or sweltering depending on the season. So while you don’t need a professional, you’ll likely want to hire one.
Want to learn more or fix your home’s air leakage problem?
Sign up for a no-cost home energy assessment with Sealed.