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Prescriptive Air Sealing: Fix the Two Foot Hole In Your House

By Chuck Henrichsen on June 10, 2016

[caption id="attachment_1511" align="aligncenter" width="550"]air sealing and vapor barrier installation tacoma wa Would you open a window with the air conditioner running?[/caption]

Did your mom or dad ever say, "We're not paying to air condition the whole neighborhood!" when you were a little kid? They might have been a lot more in tune than they knew. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average home has so many air leaks, they add up a 2-foot-square hole. That's about the size of an open window — which you'd never allow while running the AC.

Clean Crawls can find those air leaks, patch them up and make your home much more efficient and comfortable. And once summer is finally over and the weather begins to cool off again, you'll really appreciate the effect of prescriptive air sealing and absence of drafts.

Air Leaks are Everywhere

Nearly any surface in your home is capable of hosting an air leak. Even when your mom or dad shut the door or close a window, chances are they weren't exactly sealed tight. Combined, the Department of Energy says those two areas account for about 21 percent of all air leaks in the average home. But there's a bigger culprit.

Floors, walls and ceilings add up to a whopping 31 percent of air leaks. And here you've thought that some caulk around windows and doors should do the trick. It helps. But if those larger spaces need attention, caulking a window is like bailing water from a sinking rowboat using a teaspoon.

[caption id="attachment_1512" align="aligncenter" width="550"]air sealing tacoma wa We have the right tools to find and fix air leaks no matter where they hide.[/caption]

How Clean Crawls Detects Them

At Clean Crawls, we use a combination of experience, special equipment, and techniques to find the air leaks in your home. Maybe you've got gaps around plumbing penetrations, wind filtering in around electric outlets and leaks along every wall at the ceiling and floor level. And maybe your ducts are leaking, too.

Using the blower door test, we can determine just how much of a problem you're dealing with. This test draws air out of the house, which pulls air in through the leaks, and measures the pressure inside. The duct blaster test checks the whole duct system for leaks, too. The last thing you want is to pay for air conditioning only to have it leak out before it reaches the registers. Most homes need a little further investigation to pinpoint the leaks. And we've got numerous options for closing them off.

Sealing Leaks Takes Finesse

Prescriptive air sealing sounds like a straightforward job, but there is such a thing as too much. Some air leaks have obvious solutions. If you've got drafts around windows and doors, caulk really can fix them. For bigger gaps, such as plumbing penetration air leaks, expanding foam is often a better choice. Better insulation in walls, ceilings and attics can remedy those widespread problems as well. And we also know when an air leak is actually a good thing.

Ventilation could technically be described as an air leak, but it's an important one. Your home needs to breathe to prevent moisture (which causes mold) and air pollution buildup. Green Building Advisor says that left to its own devices, moisture can rot a home from the inside out. That's why most homes have a few different vents, such as those in soffits, the attic ridge and sometimes a small turbine on the roof. With vapor barriers in the right locations, you'll discourage water migration into your home. In the crawl space, a vapor barrier keeps dampness from wicking up. And in the walls and attic, it helps moisture find its way outside instead of into your insulation and framework.

Sometimes the best habits still aren't enough. You'll probably never leave a door standing open in winter or raise a window when the air conditioner is running. But if your home is like most, the air leaks add up to nearly the same effect.

Your home isn't just a box. It needs to breathe. The trick is cutting off bad air leaks while encouraging good ventilation. That's why you need Clean Crawls. Download our Homeowners' Insulation Handbook and learn more about the ways that we find the air leaks that make up that two-foot-hole, seal them and help you enjoy a healthier, more comfortable and energy-efficient home.

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Chuck Henrichsen
President and CEO of Clean Crawls, Treasurer of E3 World Wide, proud husband and father.