Air-Sealing Your Home: Best Practices
So you’ve found air leaks in your home’s envelope. Now what do you do? The next step is air-sealing them to improve energy efficiency. With a few exceptions, it’s fairly easy and straightforward to seal leaks with common materials available on the market.
- Caulk. In most cases, acrylic or latex caulk is your best option. It’s fairly durable, easy to apply, and dries slowly enough to allow you to wipe it with a damp cloth for a tight seal and even appearance. While silicone caulk also provides a tight and highly durable seal, it will be difficult to remove once in place.
- Expanding foams. Foams come in aerosol cans and a variety of kinds. Many are highly flammable when applied and should be used carefully. Remember to only use the foam that’s appropriate for your particular air-sealing project. You’ll want fire-resistant foam around chimneys, flues, and ducts. If you’re sealing around wires, use the electrical-grade foam that’s UL approved. Trim away any excess foam with a sharp utility knife once it’s dry.
- Weatherstripping. Use weatherstripping that matches your existing product as closely as possible and look for the right fit. Something that’s too thick may not allow you to close and lock a window or door tightly, while something too thin will let air enter and leave.
- Flashing. Larger gaps around chimneys and flues may need to be sealed with sheet metal flashing. Often these leaks are next to the roof deck and require waterproofing to prevent leaks and consequent mold and wood rot. Unless you’re an experienced do-it-yourselfer, you may need to ask a professional to help you seal them.
- Metal tape and mastic. Ductwork leaks can drive up energy costs substantially, especially if they’re large or extensive. If you have ready access to the leaking ducts, use metal tape or mastic to seal them. If they’re difficult to access, contact your HVAC contractor for an assessment and sealing. Duct tape should never be used to seal ducts, since its adhesive dries out quickly.
Contact Rinaldi’s Energy Solutions when you need expert air-sealing services to improve home comfort. We’ve provided top-notch HVAC services for Orlando-area homeowners since 1969.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Greg-McGill/Shutterstock”