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Where the Biggest Air Leaks Lurk & Why Caulking is Not the Answer

Sealing air leaks around windows and doors isn’t actually a very good way to save on your heating bill.

Where the Biggest Air Leaks Lurk & Why Caulking is Not the AnswerEvery winter, homeowners look for ways to save on their heating bills. One common piece of advice they might receive is to seal up air leaks that are allowing cold air to enter the home and heat to escape.

While sealing air leaks is of course an excellent idea, unfortunately many homeowners don’t go about it in the most effective way. For example, they tend to focus on caulking windows and putting weather stripping on doors.

Here’s the problem:

These potential sources of air leakage may be the most visible and the most accessible, but they are not the most damaging to your heating bill.

For Big Energy Savings, Fix the Big Air Leaks

Compared to the holes you might find in your basement, crawlspace, or attic, the gaps around your windows and doors are virtually inconsequential.

Not only are basement and attic gaps typically larger in size, they also draw more air because of a pressure differential called the stack effect.

You probably already know that warm air rises and cold air sinks. In the winter, this means that you’re going to have warmer air up towards the top of your home and colder air towards the bottom. Now what you may not realize is that the difference in temperatures also comes with a difference in pressure. It is this pressure differential that is really responsible for your air leakage.

What happens is the low pressure in your basement or crawl space sucks cold outside air in, and then the higher pressure in your attic pushes your warm air out. Unless there are other factors at play (such as wind or an HVAC airflow problem) air will actually shoot right past leaks in windows and doors on the main floors of your home because it is following this upward path created by the stack effect.

So, if you really want to reduce your air loss this winter, you need to get an HVAC contractor to come look for the big leaks in your basement and attic and seal those up. Only after this has been done will you see a benefit from caulking windows and weatherstripping doors.

Don’t Forget to Get a Furnace Tune-Up

Of course, in order to maximize your savings on your heating bill this winter you will also need to make sure your furnace is working properly. US Comfort can help with this too—just give us a call at 800-738-4160 to schedule a visit from one of our talented technicians. It’s never too far into winter to benefit from furnace service!

Posted on November 15, 2015

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