Air Sealing and Moisture Control : Two components of an Energy Plan that you never leave out.

You can reduce your home's heating and cooling costs through proper insulation and Air Sealing techniques. These techniques will also make your home more comfortable. Any air sealing efforts will complement your insulation efforts, and vice versa. Proper moisture control and ventilation strategies will improve the effectiveness of air-sealing and insulation, and vice versa.

Learn how to properly seal your Home

Air leakage, or infiltration, occurs when outside air enters a house uncontrollably through cracks and openings. Properly air sealing such cracks and openings in your home can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs, improve building durability, and create a healthier indoor environment.

It is unwise to rely on air leakage for ventilation because it can't be controlled. During cold or windy weather, too much air may enter the house. When it's warmer and less windy, not enough air may enter. Air infiltration also can contribute to problems with moisture control. Moldy and dusty air can enter a leaky house through such areas as attics or foundations. This air in the house could cause health problems.

The recommended strategy in both new and old homes is to reduce air leakage as much as possible and to provide controlled ventilation as needed.

Sealing an Existing Home

Air-sealing is one of the most significant energy efficiency improvements you can make to your home. Air-sealing will not just reduce energy costs; it will also improve your home's comfort and durability.

Before air-sealing, you should first do the following:

•Detect air leaks •Assess your ventilation needs for indoor air quality. You can then apply air sealing techniques and materials as needed, including caulk and weather-stripping. If you're completely remodeling your home, which will include some construction, also review some of the techniques used for air-sealing in new home construction.

A great site for additional air-sealing information is at: Air Sealing Information

Detecting Air Leaks

You may already know where some air leakage occurs in your home, such as an under-the-door draft, but you'll need to find the less obvious gaps to properly air seal your home.

For a thorough and accurate measurement of air leakage in your home, perform an an energy audit with, Energy Audits made Simple

One test that is particularly good is a blower door test. A blower door test, which depressurizes a home, can reveal the location of many leaks. A complete energy audit will also help determine areas in your home that need more insulation.

Without a blower door test, there are ways to find some air leaks yourself. First, look at areas where different materials meet, such as between brick and wood siding, between foundation and walls, and between the chimney and siding. Also inspect around the following areas for any cracks and gaps that could cause air leaks:

•Door and window frames

•Mail chutes

•Electrical and gas service entrances

•Cable TV and phone lines

•Outdoor water faucets

•Where dryer vents pass through walls

•Bricks, siding, stucco, and foundation

•Air conditioners

•Vents and fans. You can also try these steps to depressurize your home to help detect leaks:

1.Turn off your furnace on a cool, very windy day.

2.Shut all windows and doors.

3.Turn on all exhaust fans that blow air outside, such as bathroom fans or stove vents.

4.Light an incense stick and pass it around the edges of common leak sites. Wherever the smoke is sucked out of or blown into the room, there's a draft. If you don't want to turn off your furnace, you can just turn on all your exhaust fans to depressurize your home.

Other air-leak detection methods include the following:

•Shining flashlight at night over all potential gaps while a partner observes the house from outside. Large cracks will show up as rays of light. Not a good way to detect small cracks.

•Shutting a door or window on a piece of paper. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it, you're losing energy. You can also run a simple step by step energy audit with the following easy to follow guide:

Moisture Control

Properly controlling moisture in your home will improve the effectiveness of your air sealing and insulation efforts, and vice versa. Thus, moisture-control contributes to a home's overall energy-efficiency.

The best strategy for controlling moisture in your home depends on your climate and how your home is constructed. Before deciding on a moisture control strategy for your home, you may first want to understand how moisture moves through a home.

Moisture control strategies typically include the following areas of a home:

•Attics •Foundation ◦Basement ◦Crawl space ◦Slab-on-grade floors •Walls. In most U.S. climates, you can use vapor diffusion retarders in these areas of your home to control moisture.

Proper ventilation should also be part of a moisture-control strategy. Check our Ventilation page for tips on proper ventilating of your home.

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