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Finding Leaks Can Save You Money

It’s fall, and it’s time to quit looking for leaks from the White House and look for leaks in our own house. Air leaks can waste up to 10-20% of your energy dollars. Whether leaks are letting hot air inside during the warmer months or letting in drafts during the cooler season, one of the quickest energy- and money-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal and weather strip.

Here are three easy do it yourself (DIY) methods for finding air leaks and drafts.

For big leaks

  1. The hand test is best for finding large leaks in the fall.

On a cold day with the heat on inside your home, place your hand around the edges of all exterior doors, windows, and bathroom and kitchen air vents and fans. If you feel cold air on your hand, then you have an air leak.

  1. To find smaller leaks, try the candle test.

Light a candle and walk around your house to places that you think may have air leaks: electrical outlets, light fixtures, around baseboards and crown molding and phone jacks.

Most important, if you are conducting the test on a warm day, turn off your central air conditioning. If it is cold outside, turn off your central heating system before conducting this test. Place the candle near the potential leak, if the light dances around slightly, you have a small leak.

  1. To find air leaks all over your home, the most fool proof DIY method is a lit stick of incense.

First you will need to depressurize your house. Sounds difficult, but here is a low tech method. Choose a day that is cold and windy to complete this test. Turn off the furnace and close all of the windows and exterior doors. Turn on all of the fans in your bathrooms and kitchen.

Now light the incense stick and walk around your house. Pass the incense over the edges of doors, windows, vents and don’t forget baseboards and crown moldings. If the smoke is blown into the house or sucked out, then you have a leak. Normally the smoke will go straight up.

Now that you have found the leaks, let’s seal the leaks. If you find leaky doors, replace the seals and/or the weather stripping. Outlets can be sealed with outlet insulation plates. For window leaks, you will need to caulk the leaks or for radical single pane window leaks, cover the window in plastic and caulk the frame. For most vent leaks and small pesky leaks around baseboards and trims, keep a roll of masking tape on your wrist while doing your test. When you find a leak, stick a piece of tape over the leak. When you are all done, you will need to go back and caulk your leaks. Here is a great site for a step by step on caulking.

So add this easy DIY task to your fall project list, and save money, and enjoy reading a book in a comfy draft less chair.

For more information: Contact Evadne Giannini, Facilities Manager for CUCCS at

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