Finding Drafts Can Be Tricky Business

Finding Drafts Can Be Tricky Business

Colder weather has arrived and furnaces are humming all over North America. If you’re like most homeowners, it’s warm and cozy throughout your home – except for where it isn’t. Drafts, the scourge of wintertime energy efficiency, are creating chilly spots and leaking away the air you paid to treat.

Repairing drafts is fairly straightforward – replacing insulation, sealing cracks, adding weather stripping and replacing low-efficiency windows are just some of the solutions you can use to seal up your home. The more difficult step is actually finding the drafts in the first place.

Can You Feel It?

Let’s start with the most obvious draft locations: your windows and doors. If it’s a cold day and your heat is on, you can effectively test for drafts just by moving your hand along the edges of each door and window seal.

Similarly, you should take note of any area that simply feels cold or drafty as you walk through your home.

Depending on your home design, there may be other areas where you have significant air leaks. Two of the biggest offenders are mail slots and pet doors. There aren’t many modifications that can make these additions more energy efficient, so if you’re concerned about the drafts they create, you might want to consider sealing them up for good.

Catch the Breeze

Some drafts are more subtle, but there are two low-tech testers you can use to find them. The cheapest and simplest is a candle; walk slowly though your home with a lit candle in your hand and your HVAC system turned off. If you notice the flame flickering, you know there’s air movement in that location and can trace it back to the source.

A slightly more effective tool is a draft detector, which can be found at most hardware stores. This device emits a thin, steady stream of odorless smoke that reacts more visibly when it comes into contact with moving air.

A Difference Perspective

If you’re ready to get serious, you’ll want to contact an HVAC or electrical specialist to conduct a household energy audit with thermographic imaging. To employ this technology, technicians use handheld devices with screens that display heat patterns in all areas of your home. Cold spots stand out without the need for any significant air movement.

Thermographic imaging is an ideal solution for finding drafts in vents, electrical outlets, recessed lighting and other wall openings that aren’t directly connected to the outdoors.

Blowout

The most thorough test you can use to find drafts in your home is a blower door pressurization test, which is another common element of a household energy audit. For this test, a technician closes all windows and doors except for the front door. A door-sized panel with a powerful fan is sealed against the front doorframe, and the fan is activated to pull air out and depressurize the home.

The low pressure inside will increase the strength of the drafts from the outside, making them much more apparent for the purposes of an interior inspection. This approach is especially useful for finding drafts in attics and basements, which are typically the draftiest areas.

If you’re interested in conducting a professional energy audit or are ready to do something about the drafty areas you’ve found in your home, reach out to your local HVAC experts.

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