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Eco-friendly home guide

By: Catie Leary on Aug. 27, 2010, 11:37 a.m.
Air leaks

Photo: JupiterImages

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Air leaks

Warm air leaking into your home during the summer and out of your home during the winter can waste a lot of your energy dollars. Caulking, sealing and weatherstripping all seams, cracks and openings to the outside is one of the quickest dollar-saving tasks you can do.

Start out by testing your home for air tightness by carefuly holding a lit incense to possible openings. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak.

Some common sources for unwelcome openings in your house include dropped ceilings, water and furnace flues, window frames, recessed light, air ducts, electrical outlets and switches, attic entrance, door frames, plumbing and utility access, sill plates and chimney flashing.

There are many ways to patch up an air leak, depending on what kind of leak it is. For electrical outlets and switches, install foam gaskets behind the wall plates. For insulation leaks, seal the holes with a low-expansion spray foam made for this purpose. When the fireplace is not in use, keep the flue damper tight closed. For new construction, reduce exterior wall leaks by installing house wrap, taping the joints of eterior sheathing and comrehensively caulking and sealing the exterior walls.