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It's Important to Find Air Leaks in Your Home's Envelope


Despite the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz area's mild climate, heating and cooling isn't cheap. If you want to keep comfortable for less, sealing your home's air leaks is a good place to start.

The Problem with Air Leaks

Around your windows, doors, electrical wiring penetrations, and many other areas are little cracks that let air pass between your home's interior and the outdoors. In the average home, these holes taken together amount to a hole in the wall the size of a basketball.

In winter, they let warm air escape, and in summer they let in hot, humid outdoor air. Your furnace and A/C then have to work harder to maintain your thermostat temperature and you end up with higher energy bills. In addition, air leaks in the attic cause condensation, which increases the risk of rot and mold growth.

Leaks reduce your indoor air quality by letting in dust, pollen, car exhaust, and other pollutants from the outdoors. Your HVAC air filter can't trap all these pollutants, so they linger in your indoor air. Termites, cockroaches, and other pests also find their way in through leaks. By sealing your home's leaks, you'll protect yourself from these problems.

Stopping the Waste

The simplest way to spot leaks is with burning incense or a smoke pen. Hold one of these up to a leaky area on a breezy day, and the smoke will move sideways. Places to check include:

  • Doors and windows
  • Light switches and outlets
  • Exhaust fans
  • Points where utility lines enter the house
  • Baseboards and crown molding
  • Fireplace

To more accurately pinpoint leaks, consult an HVAC technician about a home energy audit. To seal leaky window frames, exhaust fan housing, and other surfaces without moving parts, apply caulk. To seal leaks between movable surfaces, such as casement window stops and the inside tracks of sash windows, you'll need weather stripping. The best type to use depends primarily on where you want to use it.

If you'd like help sealing your home's air leaks, contact us at Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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