How to rid your home of drafts

The Progress-Index - At Home - - FRONT PAGE - METRO SER­VICES

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.

At­tic

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.

Dryer vents

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.

Pipes

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.

Fire­places

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.

Elec­tri­cal out­lets

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

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