Finding drafts in house

Table of Contents

How to Find and Eliminate Drafts in Your Home

Attics, eaves and knee walls

Many older homes have fiberglass insulation which is not as efficient as new and improved expanding foam insulation. An energy auditor can look in our attic, eaves and knee walls to see if you adequate insulation. Once you updated your insulation in these areas you should see a significant savings on your heating costs.


To check and see if your windows are leaking air take a lit candle and hold it up to the edges of the window. If the flame flickers or is blown out it it’s likely you have a draft problem with your windows. The first quick fix is to reseal the windows. However, if your windows are over 15 years old you may want to consider replacing your windows. Upgrading to energy efficient windows can save you on heating and cooling bills each year.


If you have a chimney in your home you this should be the first draft you fix. Check the chimney for air flow around the brick and edges of the fireplace. If you feel any air leaks start with fixing those first. The next thing you want to do is get a chimney cover to place in the chimney when you are not using your fireplace. Remember to have your chimney inspected at least once a year to ensure it is working properly.

Electrical outlets

Exterior walls with outlets should be checked for drafts. You will be surprised by how much of a draft can leak through an outlet. A simple way to check the draft is the candle method and also by placing your hand over the outlet. If the candle flickers or if you feel the draft you will want to get a special gasket that will eliminate the draft. What you will be looking for at your local hardware store is a draft-proofing gaskets. The draft-proofing gasket is a plate that goes behind the outlet and keeps drafts from coming in around the outlet. It’s a quick fix that can help you save on your heating bill.

Other wiring areas and plumbing

Plumbing and writing that goes outside is another source for air leaks. To check for leaks do the candle test around plumbing and wiring that goes outside. Consult an electrician for ways to seal up leaks around wiring and find a plumber for ways to fill gaps around pipes.

Exterior doors

The top and bottom of exterior doors are a big source of drafts in the home. Look at the seal of the door to see if it is damage. If the seal appears to be cracked or peeling away from the frame you should replace the seal. If you still feel a leak coming from the bottom of the door a door sweep can help keep drafts out.

If you are looking to make some home repairs to house but are unsure how you can afford the upgrades you want to make, a reverse mortgage could be the answer. A reverse mortgage eliminates your current mortgage and if you have any additional equity you can use that tax-free cash for anything you want. There is currently no income or credit requirements for a reverse mortgage and you are never required to make a payment as long as you live in your home. You can have the peace of mind knowing you can live in your home for the rest of your life.

Kristen Curzytek is a writer for the One Reverse Mortgage blog.

Feeling a Draft? How to Find and Fix Air Leaks in Your Home

Air leaks can make your home uncomfortable, may be frustrating and may cost you money. According to, you can potentially save as much as 15 percent on your heating and cooling bills each year by properly sealing and insulating your home. Here are some tips to help get started.

Know Common Sources of Air Leaks

If you’ve lived in your house for a while, you probably know where some air leaks are simply because you’ve felt them. And while windows and doors are common culprits, says many air leaks come from other sources hidden away in the basement and attic of your home:

  • Knee walls (side walls that support attic rafters)
  • Attic hatch/opening
  • Wiring holes (cable TV, electrical outlets, phone lines)
  • Plumbing vents
  • Recessed lights and the soffit around these lights
  • Furnace flues or ducts
  • Basement rim joists (the meeting point of the foundation and wood framing)

Identify Your Home’s Air Leaks

First, you’ll need to identify air leaks to help reduce drafts and make an impact on your energy bills, which you can do by following these tips.

Do a Visual Inspection

The Department of Energy (DOE) says you can start with a careful visual inspection inside and out. Look for gaps and cracks at the common points of air leakage (i.e., knee walls, dryer vents, outdoor faucets, attic hatches, sill plates) and pay close attention to the outer walls, doors and other openings of your home. Take notes of any cracks, gaps or other openings, so you can return and air-seal them later.

You can also perform a simple test to supplement your visual inspection. The DOE outlines various methods, but offers the following steps for performing a do-it-yourself smoke test:

  • Pick a cool and windy day, and turn off all appliances that create air disturbances or have exhaust fans, including the furnace, water heater, clothes dryer and bathroom fans.
  • Shut all windows, exterior doors and fireplace flues.
  • Carefully light a stick of incense and hold it near any potential points of air leakage (see the common points of air leakage list above).
  • If the smoke begins moving unsteadily back and forth, or if it’s sucked out of the room or blown into it, you have an air leak.

Get a Professional Inspection

You can also hire a professional to help identify air leaks by performing a home energy audit, says the DOE. Typically, the process includes a blower door test, where a powerful fan is mounted to the frame of an exterior door. The fan pulls air out of the house, lowering the pressure inside, and allows the higher outside air pressure to flow in through cracks and other openings. The professionals typically use something called a smoke pencil, similar to the smoke test outlined above, to help spot leaks. A blower door test not only locates air leaks but may also assess the overall air tightness of your home.

Some energy companies offer free energy assessments, or you may be able to hire a company that can help make your home more energy efficient. So, if that’s something you’re interested in, contact your local energy supplier or state or county public services to see if they can suggest a professional energy auditor, says the DOE.

Gather Your Materials

Now that you’ve found your home’s air leaks, it’s important to get familiar with the tools of the trade. Caulk and spray foam are designed to help seal up gaps in stationary materials and fixtures like window frames ( recommends using caulk on holes 1/4 inch or less and spray foam on holes 1/4 inch to 3 inches). Weatherstripping is meant for items that move, like doors and operable windows (between the frames and sashes). You might also need a few specialty materials, like high-temperature caulk, metal flashing and reflective foils, depending on the project.

One important thing to note: Air sealing may inadvertently cause a different problem — trapping indoor pollutants like radon or carbon monoxide and creating an unsafe situation inside your home. says you should consider bringing in a professional to test for radon and to check whether heating appliances are sending out potentially harmful gases — both before and after doing any air sealing. You may need ventilation fans to help maintain safe air quality in your home.

Prioritize Your Projects

So, where to begin? recommends prioritizing projects based on the biggest opportunity for comfort and savings.


At the top of the list is your attic. Don’t worry about finding all the little gaps and cracks, says. Focus on sealing up the largest holes first, because that’s where you may realize one of the biggest energy savings. An attic air sealing project might include creating pouches of fiberglass insulation to plug open stud cavities and gaps behind knee walls. You can also use reflective foil to cover soffits and fit aluminum flashing on the openings surrounding your furnace and water heater flues.

Basements and Crawl Spaces

From there, your next savings opportunity may come from tackling the basement and crawlspace, where sealing air leaks can help prevent cold floors and reduce drafts from below. A basement air sealing project might include using spray foam or caulk to seal cracks and openings in the basement walls, ceiling or floor. You may also want to seal along the gap between the sill plate and the foundation and at the bottom and top of each rim joist (where cement walls meet the wood frame) at each end of the house. Don’t forget to also seal the openings around gas, water and electrical lines, ducts and wiring that pass to the outside (like your dryer vent). Larger holes might need pieces of insulation to help cover them.

Doors and Windows

Though leaks around doors and windows may likely result in your most noticeable drafts, sealing them typically has the smallest impact on your energy use, according to But, because these areas are readily accessible and the solutions tend to be simple, they offer an opportunity for a simple do-it-yourself job that may result in minimizing obvious uncomfortable drafts. A door or window air sealing project might include rolling self-adhesive weatherstripping (felt, vinyl, rubber or silicone) down the side of a window or installing a door sweep to help seal the gap between the bottom of the door and the threshold, says This Old House. You can also apply plastic over windows and fit inexpensive foam gaskets (found at most hardware stores) behind electrical outlets on perimeter walls.

Whether you do these draft-stopping projects on your own or hire a professional, once you’re done enjoy your cozy house and saving some money on your energy bills.

Originally published April 11, 2017.


Feeling a draft? Here are some tips for finding and fixing air leaks to help take the sting out of your energy bills.

Start by checking your attic, basement and crawl spaces for any cracks, gaps and openings where cold air may be coming through.

You can also try a smoke test. On a windy day, shut all windows and doors, and turn off all appliances. Then hold a lit incense stick next to potential air leakage spots. Is the smoke sucked out of the room or blown into it? Or is it moving unsteadily back and forth? These may be signs of an air leak.

For a more comprehensive view, you may want to hire a professional to conduct a home energy audit.

Insulating attic leaks may have one of the biggest impacts on your energy bill. Ask a professional for advice on where to focus your time. One option? Consider filling open stud cavities in your attic with fiberglass insulation.

Next, head to the basement. Fix any cracks or openings in the walls.

Then, examine your windows and doors. Weatherstripping can be a simple solution to help reduce drafts. For window frames, seal up smaller holes up to 1/2 inch with caulk and use spray foam on holes that are between 1/2 inch to 3 inches wide.

Keep in mind: An air-sealing project may inadvertently trap radon or carbon monoxide in your home. Bring in a professional to check for potentially harmful gases before and after the project.

Once your work is done, enjoy your cozier home!

For more home maintenance tips, head to


Picture it: You’re snuggled up, all warm and happy with your loved ones, enjoying a nice toasty fire on a cold winter’s night. You climb up out of the heavy, soft blanket, stretch out, and walk over to grab some marshmallows so you can make s’mores. Then, it hits you: a blast of frigid night air assails you where you stand. It passes through you: the hair on the back of your neck stands on end. Goosebumps prickle up over your skin. The blood freezes in your veins. You open your mouth to scream but it’s far too late: the cold has taken you, in your own home! Outside, old man winter grins smugly. He has claimed another victim.

Alright, we know that was rather…dramatic, but you get the idea: drafts are a huge pain. Drafts are caused when a house’s warm air leaks out and gets replaced or even pushed out by that sneaky, cold outside air. Not only does can this make you uncomfortable in your own home, it also makes your heating less efficient. When cold air is getting into your house, your heating has to work harder to continuously pump in more hot air. This will drive up your heating costs.

Enough is enough! You pay enough for heating without having to worry about how annoying little problems like drafts are making you pay even more. Don’t get gaslighted by a stiff breeze. That’s why Blue Ox has put together this primer all about drafts: how they happen, where they come from, and how you can stop them. With a few simple steps, you can wipe that smug grin off old man winter’s face once and for all.

How Do Drafts Happen?

Drafts can happen a couple different ways, but they all have to do with two phenomena: pressure and suction. Cold winter winds blowing against your house create a pressure difference between the indoors and outdoor air. This pressure difference creates a suction effect that pulls at warm air. If you have small gaps in your walls, warm air gets pulled through them and out of your house. Then, that dastardly cold air is all too happy to squeeze into the warm air’s place. You feel that cold air as a draft. That’s right–winter literally steals warm air out of your house.

Another reason your house might be feeling drafty has to do with that cozy fire from earlier. As you remember from high school chemistry (maybe–we had to google it), warm air rises, but cold air doesn’t. That means sources of heat like fireplaces, which literally push heat up your chimney, are contributing to the drafty feeling. When heat rises, air pressure rises with it, creating a pressure difference and thus a vacuum lower in the house. And you know who’s all too willing to fill that vacuum.

Finally, if you have any fans on, like cooking or bathroom fans, or even household rotating fans, that could be contributing to your draft. The point of fans is to push air: in this case, they’re doing their jobs a little too well and are pushing away warm air. Then that eternal opportunist cold air automatically fills in the gap. This is great during the summer, but during the winter it feels drafty.

Where is the Draft Coming From?

You may have noticed that all the different ways drafts come about have something else in common, besides pressure and suction: gaps. For the warm air in your house to peace out of your house, it needs a way to get there. It finds its way out through any size or shape of gap in your home’s insulation. The most common place for warm air to escape is through window frames. Try to see if you can feel a breeze near your window frames, especially near particularly large or old windows. Windows and their frames both naturally warp over time, which can make the window not sit quite properly. It’s a tiny gap, but warm air can escape through it nonetheless.

Make sure you also check the door frames of any doors that led outside, especially back doors or porch/patio doors. Check the bottom of the door as well as the frame itself. Like window frames, the door can come slightly unseated over time, creating the little gap heat needs to escape.

Fireplaces can also let warm air out, even when they aren’t in use. If it feels colder around your fireplace, it may be because warm air is getting sucked up and out through the chimney. Make sure to close your flue whenever a fire isn’t burning. You should also keep your fireplace securely covered whenever you’re not using it.

After you’ve checked all the likely suspects, go to your basement, attic, or eave. Check to make sure, as best you can, that all the insulation in these parts of the houses is installed properly. Check twice as carefully if your attic or basement is unfinished, and the insulation is exposed. That pink gunk is the only thing between you and the awesome, indifferent forces of nature, so be sure it’s doing its job! If you basement feels much colder than the rest of your house, drafts are likely why

Remember: heat can escape through even the smallest of gaps. Check lighting fixtures and power outlets to make sure they’re as flush with the wall as they can be. If your power outlet is loose at all, it could be letting heat leak out through it.

What Do I Do About This?

At this point, you’ve probably heard enough about drafts to last you a lifetime. Now that you know what they are, how they’re caused, and where they’re coming from, we’re on to the really important question: how do I stop them? To prevent drafts, you have to deprive warm air of any means of escape your home. Think of your house as Alcatraz, only for air and nobody ever even allegedly escaped from it. When it comes to windows, if you don’t think the gaps seem that gaping, try putting up some heavy curtains. These will help keep cold air from worming its way in in a pinch. If your frames are old or you don’t think they’re very well put-together, consider re-caulking them or putting in weather stripping. You could also invent in some heavy-duty, weatherproof windows if you really wanted to cut out windows as a factor.

Make sure your doors are installed correctly in their frames. If you’re a little handy, take the door off its hinges and re-install it. Check to see if there’s any give in the hinges during this process. Next, make sure the rubber threshold is where it should be. It can be easy to kick that loose on your way into the house. Replacing your screen door with a storm door would help too, as long as you make sure that one fits right, too!

Electrical outlets and lighting fixtures are easy; just straighten and tighten. Caulk only if you have to to seal off a gap. Insulation is harder. If you feel like your insulation isn’t doing its job, trust your instincts. Parts of it may have fallen away, or older material may no longer be thick enough to keep warm air in and cold air out. Check out these Angie’s List tips for ways to make sure it’s working right and what to do if it isn’t.

You’re cold enough this winter without having to worry about keep all that out of your own house. When Blue Ox installs a furnace or heater, we want to make sure that our customers are getting everything they need from it. If you need your heating or electricity looked at or replaced this winter, give us a call anytime and we’ll be happy to help quickly and effectively. Ask us about drafts while we’re there. We Minnesotans have to stick together to get through these winters!

8 DIY Ways To Draft-Proof The Doors & Windows In Your Home

Regardless if your home is brand new or 100 years old, almost every house has a draft. Drafts occur where there are gaps in the construction and the opening is left unsealed to the outside.

Drafts can be found in places such as: windows, doors, attic hatches, pipes leading outside, and ceiling-to-wall joints.

The cold air that enters into your home through these uninsulated spaces can raise your heating bill and allow not just cold air in, but moisture and little critters too. Here are eight simple ways to draft-proof your windows and doors this fall:

1. Use Weatherstripping

Weatherstrips are an inexpensive way to help seal drafty doors and windows. This guide from Lowes can help you knock out this task in a few easy steps.

Level of Difficulty: Easy

2. Install New Sweeps

Replacing old door sweeps with new ones can make a world of a difference. This Old House‘s contractor, Tom Silva, recommends purchasing a wood sweep that can be painted or stained to match your or door.

To ensure a good fit, close the door, measure the length of the door, and cut the size you need. There are a few different kinds of sweeps (like heavy duty, drip-cap and brush) – asking an expert at your local hardware store which one is right for you will help ensure you get the best bang for your buck.

Level of Difficulty: Easy

3. Use Foam Tape

Highly-sticky foam tape is a great weather-proofing alternative to doors that may be slightly warped and don’t have a true and snug fit. Simply cut to size and secure in the areas with a draft.

Level of Difficulty: Easy

4. Apply Rigid Foam Insulation And Foil Stripping

Tom Silva from This Old House shows you how to insulate windows with sash weights. Watch the video and get the instructions here.

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

5. Apply Window Film

I used interior window film at an old apartment and it worked great. It looks like saran wrap and when put in place and heated with a hair-dryer, shrinks and seals drafty windows. My pro tip: recruit a friend to help hang on larger windows, it’s much easier that way!

Level of Difficulty: Easy

6. Hang Insulated Curtains

Thermal curtains are a great way to retain heat in your home during the winter. The only drawback is to be most effective, they need to be closed. I personally prefer to let in as much light as possible during the winter months, so thermal curtains are not the best solution for me. As a note: thermal curtains do work well in the summer too, as they can help block out the suns’s hot rays.

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Photo by Apreche

7. Use A Door Snake

If you have a drafty window or door, these little snakes are a must-have in your home. Placed at the bottom of the door or window, these weighted fabric tubes help block out the unwanted chill. Get the DIY instructions here. Not crafty? Simply roll up a towel and place on the floor. It’s better than nothing.

Level of Difficulty: Easy – Moderate

8. Re-Caulk Your Windows & Doors

Over time, the caulking on windows degrades and may wear or peel away. Each fall, buy a tube or two of exterior caulking and make your rounds on outside of your home. Simply re-caulk old spots to help seal out drafts. Watch the video below for easy DIY tips.

Level of Difficulty: Easy

20 DIY Draft Stoppers That Keep Your Home Insulated

Source: Cut Out + Keep

Keep the cold out with one of these 20 DIY draft stoppers that are just as pretty as they are practical. The basic concept of a draft stopper (also known as a draft dodger, door pillow, draft blocker, etc.) is always the same — a long, thin pillow — but from there, you can use your imagination when it comes to the materials and embellishments.

Learn how to insulate your windows with bubble wrap and keep your windshield wipers from freezing with these 20 must-try winter survival hacks!

So let the creative juices flow and make something that will keep your home insulated and pretty at the same time. Bonus: These door draft stoppers also block out under-door light so you can sleep in on snow days!

Find more winter weather must-haves, plus craft supplies for making these adorable draft stoppers, during this year’s Black Friday sales!

1. Patchwork Draft Stopper

This patchwork draft stopper will add a pop of color to those dreary winter days. Mix and match colors and patterns of your choice to personalize yours or match it to your existing decor for a seamless wintertime addition.

2. Basic Fabric Blocker

Source: The Little House in the City

This simple stopper can be made out of any fabric color or pattern to suit your space. Stuff it with rice, a go-to door pillow filling that is heavy enough to keep out cold air.

3. Old Socks Draft Blocker

Source: Garden Therapy

Turn those unworn or pairless socks into something useful. Make a simple fabric tube, filled with stuffing and dried popcorn, then wrap the socks around it to create a simple door or window draft stopper.

4. Striped Crochet Draft Blocker

Source: crocheTime

Stripes in bold bright colors never fail. This cheery draft blocker is the perfect way to use up scraps of yarn using simple crochet techniques.

5. Double-Sided Draft Excluder

Source: Not Martha via Flickr

For extra blustery thresholds, make this double-side stopper using foam tubing. A bright orange fabric will also help beat the winter blues.

6. Dachshund Doggy Blocker

This cute pup will act as guard dog against chilly intruders. You can make him with simple sewing techniques, using polka dot and contrasting red fabric.

7. Buttons & Linen Blocker

Source: Good Housekeeping

This handmade draft stopper is both elegant and whimsical. To make your own, sew a simple linen tube, stitch on buttons, and stuff it with dried beans or rice.

8. Pool Noodle Draft Stopper

Source: Lifehacker

This resourceful draft stopper is made from a pool noodle cut in half, then inserted into a pillow or folded sheet. Use a safety pin to secure the noodle to the fabric and keep it from sliding out from under the door.

9. Faux Wood Draft Dodger

Source: Martha Stewart

Make a soft stopper with a sleek wooden look by using a decorative fabric like this wood-grain design. Stuff it with dust-free kitty litter, which is weighty and cheap.

10. Fuzzy Sock Draft Dodger

Source: One Good Thing by Jillee

Take those solo fuzzy winter socks and make them into a perfect, soft draft dodger. Use popcorn and batting to fill it up, then prop it next to that drafty door to reduce your energy bill.

11. Blue Jeans Door Pillow

Source: The Green Phonebooth

Sturdy and practical denim is a great material for insulation. Turn a pair of old jeans into a double-sided draft stopper, stuffed with two foam pipe wraps.

12. Horse Silhouettes Door Draft Blocker

Source: Country Living

This stopper seconds as country chic decor. Make your own horse silhouette door pillow with iron-on transfers.

13. Tree Branch Draft Dodger

Source: Instructables

Keep out the cold air out and let a bit of nature in with this cute tree branch draft stopper. You may even want to make your pup one of their own for a quick game of indoor fetch!

14. No-Sew Faux Fur Blocker

Source: Remodelista

No sewing is required to create this easy and elegant draft excluder. To make your own, simply roll up a fur blanket and tuck into the exposed threshold.

15. Tights Snake Draft Blocker

Source: Journey Into Unschooling

Take advantage of all the fun patterns of kids tights, and repurpose them into a colorful door snake. You could use t-shirt fabrics, too.

16. Lace & Trim Draft Dodger

Source: AO Life

A practical draft excluder can also be a piece of art. Decorate one with lace and pom pom trim embellishments for a touch of whimsy and fun.

17. Woolly Sheep Draft Blocker

Source: The Present Finder

This sweet draft stopper is easy to replicate. To make your own, simply sew together a few short, squat stuffed animals.

18. Boxy Door Blocker

Source: Jennifer Rizzo

Make a square-shaped blocker that will fit perfectly into your entryway. Just stitch together four strips of fabric, then sew two square pieces to either end.

19. Row of Houses Door Pillow

Source: Quappwurms Quilts

Use the helpful tutorial to sew a row of houses that will keep the cold air under control in your own home. You could make all the houses match, or mix up colors and patterns.

20. Pom-Pom Draft Blocker

Source: In My Own Style

For an instantly adorable upgrade, make a basic fabric draft stopper, then add DIY pom-poms in the yarn of your choosing. Polka dot fabric and multicolor yarn will warm up a cold day.

It’s hard to go wrong when making a draft dodger. A wide array of outer materials and inner stuffings will get the job done, so you can get resourceful and make good use of materials you already have on hand. Best of all, you’ll lower the cost of your heating bill while beautifying your home.

How to Keep Cold Air from Coming Through Windows

When the weather starts to cool down, you don’t want to worry about drafts and cold air coming in from the outside. Keep reading to learn seven simple techniques to keep cold air from coming through your windows and what you can do for a more permanent, safer solution.

Seven Ways to Keep Cold Air from Coming Through Windows

Here are seven methods of keeping cold air from coming through your windows and doors.

1. Use Weather Strips

Weather strips are an inexpensive way to seal doors and windows in your home. There are three main types of weather strips: compression, V-type and foam.

Compression weather strips are the most durable for seal-swinging doors and window sashes. V-type weather strips fit against the side of a door or window jam and form a seal to prevent cold air from entering.

Foam weather stripping comes in various sizes with an adhesive backing on one side. While foam weather stripping is the easiest to install, it only lasts one to three years.

2. Install New Door Sweeps

Installing a door sweep along the bottom of an exterior door can block out cold air. To ensure a good fit, measure the length of the door when it’s closed and cut the sweep to the size you need.

There are a variety of door sweeps including heavy-duty, drip-cap, and brush sweeps. Contact a glass and window expert to determine which would be best for your home.

3. Apply Foam Tape

Sticky foam tape is a great weather-proofing alternative for doors and windows that are slightly warped. Cut the tape to size and secure it along areas that have a draft.

4. Insulate with Window Film

Window film looks like saran wrap and does a great job at insulating your windows during the colder months. After placing window film on your windows, heat it with a blow-dryer to shrink it and seal out drafts.

5. Hang Insulated Curtains

While thermal curtains can help retain heat in the winter, they have to be closed for most of the day.

6. Re-Caulk Windows and Doors

Re-caulk old spots along your windows and doors to help seal out drafts. If you won’t open any windows until spring, temporarily seal them shut with caulking and peel it off when the weather starts to get warmer.

7. Use a Door Snake

These weighted fabric tubes are placed at the bottom of your door and prevent cold air from coming through. If you don’t want to buy a door snake, a rolled-up towel will also do the trick.

While these are easy, temporary ways to prevent drafts and keep cold air from coming into your home, consider more permanent solutions, such as installing double-pane windows.

What Are Double-Pane Windows?

Double-pane windows, also known as insulated glass units (IGUs), are known for the air pockets between their panes that diffuse heat transfer and reduce window conductivity, resulting in a better-insulated home.

Single-pane units do not have air pockets, thus allowing heat to pass through the glass more readily.

Double-pane units are not only great for insulation benefits, but they also lower noise pollution and reduce energy costs.

Insulate Your Windows with Glass Doctor

At Glass Doctor®, we have years of experience installing double-pane windows and keeping cold air out of our customers’ homes. If you want to permanently keep cold air from coming through your windows, install double-pane windows with Glass Doctor. Schedule an appointment today at 855-603-1919.



Simple Most:

This Old House:

Good Housekeeping:…

February 28, 2018 / Written by: Josh Crank

Welcome to the Take Charge of Your Home series from Direct Energy! Hiring a professional to perform household maintenance may offer convenience and peace of mind, but you can do many of these jobs yourself with no experience or special tools. And in the process, you’ll save money, learn about how your home works and gain a sense of accomplishment from a DIY task done well!

A drafty home is a big problem. It not only wastes energy and drives up utility bills, it also makes living spaces chilly in the winter and hot in the summer. Homeowners who are surrounded by air leaks end up spending more money on less comfort.

As if that wasn’t enough, air leaks can also be difficult to find. Tiny gaps around window sashes or cracks in corners may be nearly invisible, but they can still add up to create a major weakness in the integrity of your home envelope.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still try your best to find and seal these leaks, especially if your home feels uncomfortable during extreme outdoor temperatures or your energy bills are getting out of control. A lot of this work can be performed by DIY amateurs, and if you find that you need extra help, professionals can step in with sophisticated technology to locate air leaks you might never find on your own.

How to Find Drafts

You can’t fix what you can’t see, so the first step in tightening up your home’s envelope is to find those drafts. It’s best to do this on a windy day with your HVAC system turned off. Work one room at a time, keeping a record of drafts by either making a detailed list, taking photos or marking them with masking tape.

The most low-tech tool for draft detection is your own hand. If it’s warm in your home but cold outside, you should be able to feel larger drafts on your outstretched palm by holding it a few inches away from walls, windows and doors.

A more effective method is to use a flame or smoke to detect streams of moving air. Slowly move a lit candle through a drafty area, and the breeze will cause the flame to flicker. You can also use a stick of incense and watch for its smooth strip of smoke to be disturbed. If you don’t like the fragrance, most hardware stores sell handheld draft detectors that work similarly by emitting an odorless stream of smoke.

These methods can help you locate lots of drafts, but if you want to catch them all, you should consider scheduling a professional energy audit. The most common way for energy auditors to find air leaks is with a process called a “blower door test”.

In this test, auditors fill the front door of a home with a large panel equipped with powerful fans. These fans blow outdoors, which depressurizes the home and increases the airflow through drafty areas. Auditors can then scan the entire home using infrared heat mapping cameras, allowing them to literally see drafts, as well as assess their severity.

If you’re the DIY type, it’s worthwhile to hunt down drafts on your own. But if you still have trouble with cold spots and big bills after plugging those leaks, an energy audit may be worth the expense.

How to Seal Drafty Air Leaks

With your air leaks spotted, it’s time to start sealing them up. Caulk, spray foam and weather stripping will help you fill in the vast majority of leaks.

For the finest cracks, you can’t do much better than a clear acrylic caulk rated for indoor use. You’ll want to prepare each surface by thoroughly cleaning and drying the area of the crack, taking care to remove any old caulk or paint with a putty knife. Apply a bead of caulk to the crack using a caulking gun per the directions printed on the caulk tube. Next, use a wet fingertip to push the caulk deep into the crack, then use a damp rag to wipe away the excess.

Larger gaps, such as those you might see around a plumbing pipe extending through a wall, are better sealed with closed-cell expanding spray foam insulation. Pressurized cans of spray foam can be found at most hardware stores. As with caulk, every area should be cleaned and dried prior to application to ensure long-lasting adhesion.

Hopefully, you already have weather stripping installed on your home’s windows and doors. But weather stripping doesn’t last forever, especially on windows and doors that are opened and closed frequently. If you find stripping that is cracked, dried out or is peeling away from the surface, it should be replaced.

Before installing new weather stripping, you must completely remove the old ones, as well as any adhesive and dirt they leave behind. After each surface is completely clean and dry, cut your new weather stripping to the appropriate length, peel off the adhesive backing and carefully press it into place.

When it comes to the bottom of your exterior doors, a door sweep is a better alternative to ordinary weather stripping. These are typically fastened with screws onto the inside of the door. Be sure to install it with the door closed, taking care to ensure there are no gaps between the door sweep and the threshold.

More Draft Prevention Tips:

Completing this process can make a big difference in both comfort and cost, but it’s only one part of improving the integrity of your home envelope. Here are a few additional tips to consider if you’re looking for more opportunities to seal and save:

  • If you have a fireplace, keep the damper closed to minimize air leaks. If the fireplace still feels drafty, your damper may need adjustment or replacement, or you might want to supplement with any of a variety of other fireplace covers or chimney plugs.
  • Make sure your attic hatch forms a tight seal with the ceiling. If it’s sagging, you may need to adjust or replace the tension springs to tighten it up.
  • There are ways to make drafty rooms feel more comfortable in the short term if you don’t have time for more permanent fixes. Try covering drafty windows with plastic wrap or bubble wrap, or make a DIY draft blocker for drafty doors.
  • Sealing drafts can only do so much if your windows and doors are inherently energy inefficient. Replacing them can be a large expense, but it’s one that can pay off in the long run. If you’re considering replacement in your future, do your research and prioritize energy efficiency in your buying decisions.

If you’re ready to track down the drafts in your home, happy hunting! It’s a smart first step toward a more comfortable home and more affordable energy bills.

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About Josh Crank

Josh Crank is a freelance writer and content marketer with a background in legal journalism, travel writing, and marketing for numerous commercial industries. He’s found his perfect fit at Direct Energy in writing about home maintenance and repairs, energy efficiency, and smart home technology. Josh lives with his wife, toddler son and endlessly howling beagle-basset hound mix in New Orleans.