How to rid your home of drafts
Think about what it might be like if you turned up the heat and then opened all of the windows in your home. All of that warm air would rush right out, and you would be left with a cold home and a hefty heating bill.
A home that is full of drafts is inefficient and expensive. And drafty homes are not just a problem when the weather is cold, as air that seeps in when you’re trying to keep the home cool can be an inefficient nuisance as well. Higher energy bills and wasted resources do not have to be tolerated if you simply scour your home for drafts, sealing them to cut energy costs and make the home more comfortable.
Drafts are often small cracks around windows and doors, but there are many other places where drafts can form. Knowing some of the less visible spots where drafts come from may help you to seal out unwanted cold air more effectively.
Homes that feature attics with pull-down stairs tend to be drafty. In such homes, a large hole is cut out of the ceiling so residents can access the attic. So instead of thick insulation, these homes may only have a sheet of plywood blocking your interior space from the outdoors, as many attics are directly vented to the roof. To determine if there is a leak, turn on the attic light, close the attic door, and check to see if you can see the light on from below. If you can, then there is a gap letting both the light and air escape. In addition to using flexible rubber around the opening of the attic to better seal the door when it is closed, you can think about adding a thicker, more insulated door.
The standard home laundry dryer vents outdoors via an exhaust duct. This duct is open to the outdoors, and it may be letting cold air into the home. That’s because there is typically a flimsy flapper made of sheet metal on the outside of the vent to help protect against air infiltration. But over time dryer lint can accumulate at the vent opening, causing the metal flapper to stay open when it should close. Homeowners can invest in dryer seals that close the vent when the dryer is not in use. Not only does this prevent cold air from entering the house, but also it keeps out pests, like bugs and rodents.
Check pipes that exit the home, such as those that feed outdoor water spigots, as such pipes can let cold air back into the house. The same can be said for waste pipes. Also, check to see if pipes that connect to garages, basements and crawl spaces are not insulated. Use sealant around these pipes to block drafts into the home. Foam insulation can be sprayed into small crevices, where it will expand and harden, blocking off air access. These damp, cool spots are also great places for insects to enter the home. Sealing drafts also may prevent bugs from entering the home.
Although fireplaces often make for decorative and appealing accents to a home, many are not effective sources of ambient heat. They may draw more warm air out of the flue than they bring into the house. When a fireplace is not in use, air can rise out of the chimney and a draft can be felt in the home. Some studies indicate that an open damper on an unused fireplace, even in a well-insulated home, can increase overall heating and cooling energy consumption by 30 percent.
If you simply must have a fireplace, remember to always keep the damper shut when the fireplace is not in use and use a glass cover you can seal tightly to further block the opening to the fireplace from your living space. Fireplace plugs, which can keep out drafts during the season when fireplaces are not in use, may also be a worthwhile investment.
Outlets and light switches can be significant sources of drafts in a home. Check to see that the switch plates are secure. If drafts still come through, then employ outlet draft blockers to prevent cool air from entering the home and warm air from exiting it.
Homeowners can address drafts in a variety of ways. And doing so can make a home more comfortable and cut energy costs considerably