Sealing air leaks and windows in your Albuquerque home can help you conserve energy and increase comfort in your home. There are many places to start, but attic and basement are two of the biggest areas for potential savings.
If you’re looking to save on your energy bill, check out these tips for sealing air leaks and windows in your home. You could potentially save up to $350 each year!
Check out these notorious culprits for air leaks:
Many homes have recessed lights with vents that open into the attic. These fixtures can be a leading cause of household air leaks, as they allow heated or cooled air to escape. To help seal these leaks, use foam gaskets or sealing strips around the recessed light trim. You can also install a baffle to direct airflow back into the room.
If you’re looking for ways to seal air leaks and windows in your Albuquerque home, ICAT-labeled lights are a good place to start. If you don’t see the label, it’s likely that your home has leaks that need fixing. For a quick and easy fix, try using an airtight baffle. These are quick to install by simply removing the bulb and pushing the baffle up into the housing, then replacing the bulb.
Plug Open Stud Cavities
Up in the attic, you may need to push insulation away to see if the stud cavities are open. If they are, seal them with unfaced fiberglass insulation (less than $1 a square foot) stuffed into plastic garbage bags; the bag is key to blocking airflow.
Close large gaps with scraps of drywall or pieces of reflective foil insulation (less than $2 a square foot). Once you’ve covered the openings, smooth the insulation back into place.
Close Gaps Around Flues and Chimneys
Current Building Codes require that any wood framing is kept at least 2 inches from brick chimneys and 1 inch from metal flues. However, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that this creates gaps where air can flow.
You can cover any gaps with aluminum flashing, which can be cut to fit and sealed into place with high-temperature silicone caulk. Additionally, you can form a barrier around metal flues using a cylinder of flashing, which can also be sealed into place using silicone caulk.
One of the most important things to remember is to seal the joints between different types of materials, using caulk, weather-stripping, or other types of sealant.
Weatherstrip the Attic Access Door
The gap around attic hatches and stairs can be around 1/4 inch in size and can let through the same air flow as a bedroom heating duct. You can buy a pre-insulated hatch cover kit for stairs or doors, or you can caulk between the stair frame and the rough opening. This will help to keep the warm air in your home and save you money on your energy bills.
Squirt Foam in Medium-Size Gaps
Once the biggest attic gaps are plugged, move on to the medium-size ones. Low-expansion polyurethane foam in a can is great for plugging openings 1/4-inch to 3 inches wide, such as those around plumbing pipes and vents.
Now we’ve dealt with some of the bigger attic gaps, we can move on to the medium-size ones. Low-expansion polyurethane foam is a great option – just make sure the can fits through the opening first. And for larger gaps, there are plenty of other materials that will do the trick.
A 12-ounce can of low-expansion polyurethane foam will give you about 250 feet of 1/2-inch thick bead. The plastic straw applicator will seal shut within around two hours of the first use, so to get the most mileage out of a can, squirt a lubricant such as WD-40 onto a pipe cleaner and stuff that into the applicator’s tube between uses.
Caulk Skinny Gaps
There are various types of caulks available, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Silicone caulk is more expensive but can be used in harsher environments; acrylic latex caulk is less expensive and easier to work with.
When choosing a caulk, consider the material you’ll be caulking, the width of the gap, and the environment. For example, if you’re caulking around a metal electrical box in an attic, you’ll want to use silicone caulk because it can withstand temperature extremes.
Plug Gaps in the Basement
If you’re trying to fix a wet basement, gaps low on a foundation wall matter – but only those above the outside soil level let air in. Seal those with the same materials you’d use in an attic: caulk for gaps up to 1/4-inch wide and spray foam for wider ones.
Use high-temperature caulk around vent pipes that get hot, such as those for the furnace or water heater. This will help to prevent heat from escaping through the cracks. For wider holes, you can use foam to fill in the gaps and keep the warmth inside.
If you have an older home with a basement, there are likely areas where air leaks in. You can stop this from happening by caulking between the foundation and sill plate, as well as along the top and bottom edges of the rim joist.
Tighten Up Around Windows and Doors
In the main living areas of your home, drafts tend to occur around windows and doors. If you have old windows, caulking and adding new weatherstripping can help tighten them up.
Bronze weatherstripping is a great option because it lasts for decades, but can be time-consuming to install. Some self-stick plastic types are easy to put on, but don’t last very long. Adhesive-backed EPDM rubber is a good compromise and is rated to last at least 10 years.
Nifty gadgets called pulley seals block air from streaming through the holes where cords disappear into the frames, which helps to keep your home warm in winter. Weatherstripping also works wonders on doors – if a draft comes in at the bottom, install a new door sweep!
Before Working in the Attic, Take Some Precautions
When working in an attic, it’s best to do so on a cool day. Be sure to wear protective gear such as disposable clothes, gloves, and a double-elastic mask or half-face respirator. Make sure you bring along a droplight and enough plywood to span two or three joists while you work. Try to move all of the materials you’ll need up to the attic before you get started.
If you find vermiculite insulation, be cautious. Have it checked for asbestos by your health department or air-quality agency before continuing.