Sealing plays a crucial role in improving energy efficiency at home by reducing air infiltration and preventing drafts. When your home is well-sealed, your heating and cooling systems do not have to work as hard to compensate for the loss of conditioned air. However, air leaks and drafts can occur when there are gaps, cracks, or openings in a structure’s envelope that allow outdoor air to enter or conditioned indoor air to escape. You might feel drafts as cool air entering a room during the winter or warm air escaping during the summer. Air leaks and drafts can have several negative consequences, including reduced energy efficiency, increased energy costs, and decreased comfort within the living space.

Air leaks and drafts can occur in various areas throughout your home. Common sources include windows and doors, walls, attic access points, basements, electrical outlets, and ventilation openings. Fixing drafts at home involves identifying the sources of air leaks and implementing measures to seal or insulate those areas. Here are some ways to identify and fix drafts in your home:

Identifying Drafts

Regularly checking for drafts, especially during extreme weather conditions, can help you identify and address sealing issues promptly.

1. Visual Inspection

To identify drafts at home, you can start by conducting a visual inspection. Look for visible gaps around windows, doors, and baseboards. Check for cracks in the walls, ceilings, and floors. Inspect areas where different building materials meet, such as corners and joints.

2. Candle or Incense Test

Another way to identify drafts is through a candle or incense test. On a windy day, place a lit candle or incense stick around windows, doors, and other potential draft sources. Watch for the flame or smoke movement, which can indicate air movement caused by drafts.

3. Feel for Drafts

On a cold day, you can use your hand to feel for drafts around windows, doors, and electrical outlets. Move your hand along the edges of doors and windows to detect any cold air coming in, which may indicate a draft.

4. Check the Attic or Basement

Inspect the attic and basement for any gaps, especially around plumbing and electrical penetrations. Also check for gaps in the attic floor or basement ceiling.

Fixing Drafts

Once you have identified the sources of the drafts, you can incorporate a few solutions to improve sealing in your home.

1. Weather Stripping

Weather stripping is specifically designed to seal gaps around movable parts like doors and windows. It creates a flexible barrier that prevents air infiltration, keeps out moisture, and helps maintain a comfortable indoor environment. If there are drafts in your home from windows and doors, you can install weather stripping to create a tight seal whenever your windows and doors are closed. Weather stripping is commonly applied around the edges of windows and doors or along the meeting rail of double-hung windows. Choose the appropriate type of weather stripping based on the specific area.

2. Door Sweeps

Door sweeps are devices used to seal the gap between the bottom of the door and the threshold. They are designed to prevent drafts, dust, insects, and moisture from entering the building through the gap under a door. Door sweeps are typically made from materials that provide a flexible and durable barrier, such as rubber or vinyl. You can install door sweeps at the bottom of exterior doors to seal gaps. Door sweeps can help you ensure a tight seal without affecting the door’s ability to open and close, contributing to energy efficiency within your home.

3. Caulking

Caulking is a versatile material used to seal gaps and cracks in various surfaces, providing a durable and waterproof seal. It is used to prevent air and water infiltration and to enhance energy efficiency. Caulk comes in various formulations. To fix drafts, choose a calk that is appropriate for the material and the location. Caulk is applied to stationary parts of doors and windows, as well as gaps and joints in walls, siding, and other surfaces. It can be used to address gaps between window frames and walls, cracks in walls and siding, gaps around plumbing and electrical penetrations, and joints between different building materials.

4. Window Film

Drafts around windows are often a significant source of heat loss in homes, especially if the windows are older or single-pane. Applying window films can provide an extra layer of insulation. It can help seal gaps and cracks around windows, reducing drafts. It can help create a more airtight seal, preventing cold air from entering and warm air from escaping. Window films can minimize drafts and reduce heat transfer through windows, improving energy efficiency and comfort at home. Applying window film can be a cost-effective way to improve the energy efficiency of existing windows. While window films can be valuable in addressing drafts, they may not be a substitute for addressing more significant structural issues with windows or doors. For more comprehensive solutions, you can also consider combining window films with weather stripping, caulking, or upgrading to more energy-efficient windows.

Sealing gaps and improving the overall airtightness of your home can help you enhance energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and create a more comfortable indoor environment. Regular maintenance and periodic checks can help you stay ahead of drafts and ensure your home remains energy efficient.