Best ideas for affordable draft/air leak detector


I am trying to chase down drafts in my house and would like to get advice on the best way to detect air leaks. I have seen the following suggestions and/or products on the net and would like to get feedback from real world experience:
So far, I have seen the following: 1. Packaged "smoke" -- watch the smoke below 2. Use a candle -- watch the flame blow 3. Build a contraption with a paper clip, an eye dropper, and some plastic tubing - supposedly it amplifies the sound of an air leak but the details of how to use it were sketchy 4. Suspend a 5"x10" strip of cellophane or plastic bag from a pencil and watch it blow 5. Buy a B&D thermal detector (about $50) - but not sure if a device at that price is any good and the more expensive pro devices are probably not worth it for my limited use 6. Other ideas???
So, what do all you experts out there recommend based on your personal and/or professional experiences?
Thanks
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SWMBO...LOL..Just kidding...What kind of drafts are you looking for ??? Windows , doors , ect. , or the whole house ???
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benick wrote:

Hi, IR picture in the winter.
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Can one buy or rent one for a reasonable price? Or are there any tricks to getting an IR picture with a regular digital camera or camcorder?
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It's possible to modify some digital cameras to capture IR by removing the IR filter over the sensor array, but the mods I've seen are not reversable and start with a high end camera...so not practical for one time use.
Have you considered having an energy audit done? A pro brings in a blower door, thermal camera, and other gear. You get details on where you need to do air sealing and where to beef up insulation. Costs several hundred, but can save that much by telling you where best to spend your time and dollars to get max improvement.
The blower door lets them find all the air leaks, and the IR camera will spot insulation voids, etc.
Paul F.
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wrote:

Modifying an IR camera still wont help, the wavelenght of light is not correct for thermal imaging, if it was Thermal cameras would not cost near 2000, everybody would buy cheap 200 cameras and pay someone a few hundred, it would be a whole industry and thermal camera business would be dead.
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Paul Franklin wrote:

IF (and this is a big IF) there is anyone in your area that offers that service. Here in flyover country, that seems to be a big-city-only thing. I've looked, several times. Even the folks at the utility companies gave me blank stares.
Traditional way was smoke from cheap cigars, or incense/punk sticks. A short stubby candle in an empty tuna can can also provide useful info about air flow.
-- aem sends...
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Around windows, doors, basement. To be honest, I imagine it's an ongoing process of attacking the biggest leaks first and moving on from there. So, ultimately, I would start looking for gaps in insulation etc. But I am happy to start with the most egregious cases of true air leaks.
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Pick up a couple of cheap cigars or incense sticks....If your windows and doors are more than 20 years old they should probably be replaced anyway..They are the biggest offenders and quickest payback...Then you can nit pick other stuff...You don't need to give somebody 500 bucks to do an audit...It's just a scam...Most stuff is common sense like adding attic insulation , caulking and spray foaming cracks , ect....Besides we are here to help...LOL...Good luck...
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Our Windows are 150 years old... so definitely not something I plan on replacing -- they don't make windows or wood like they used to. The storms on the other hand are another story and need replacing when we have the cash for that. And the windows themselves could use some work on them to tune them up -- though more expensive probably than replacing them...

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writes:

You're right they don't make windows like they use to...Kinda glad really...I like the insulation they now use in homes as well...If you like old drafty houses and can afford to heat it , more power to you...Well untill Obama and the libs mandate otherwise....LOL....

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Best is a pro blower door test, I had one and it paid for itself in a year or 2 id guess from all the hidden leaks I found, you get a computer program printout of air exchanges per day, mine was 4x over what was needed. A test is about 3-500, mine was free with a new furnace. You can do one yourself with a powerfull fan sealed in an opening then use smoke sticks to trace leaks, or a punk, those long brown sticks you light fireworks with, but a pro will do it right. There are energy audit services and your utility co may do it for you or know who to call
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Incense sticks, as sold in hippy shops &c. They produce a thin stream of visible smoke but seem safer than most other burning materials.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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Don Phillipson wrote:

I didn't know you could buy Hippies, oh wait, lots of them are politicians now. *snicker*
TDD
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I've found that the cheapest and easiest way to detect leaks on a cold day is to just take a walk around every part of the house while in your underwear. All that exposed skin will tell you if there's a leak anywhere in the area.
Although, that might not be the most "professional" way to do it if you're getting paid to do the job.
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Start out by asking your wife to not be dusting around doors or windows. And to look for cobwebs. If there are air leaks, and if there are spiders to find them, they will put their little webs there.
Or start with a room, any room. Cover the heat delivery vent, perhaps with plastic and some magnets. So that you don't confound what you're looking for. Then turn the furnace blower on, so it will be pulling air from the rooms. Then go around with incense stick, whatever, because those air leaks will be much more apparent with active furnace function.
Another way is to just have a container of water, dip your hand in, and use the back of your wettened hand to find the air leaks.
While you're at it, you might want to think about "tuning" your delivery system. The rooms furthest from the furnace need to have the most unresticted air flow, the bathroom is likely to be right over it and generally needs minimal delivery, especially if the air return is very near by.
Hope that gave you something to consider.
And a reminder-locks on the windows are not to keep people out, they are to cut down on air infiltration. The word "window" is from a Scandinavian term that was for "eye to the wind". If the window locks don't snug one window portion to the other, some alternatives need to be considered. If you can slip a business card between the portions when the lock is secured, you have found another leak.

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Michael B wrote:

Chuckle. I'll second that. A few weeks ago, I noticed the interior window film on one window in the bedroom I sleep in, was inflated like a balloon. I never take the film off, since I have to use a/c in summer due to allergies. The venetian blind under the film was set to fully closed, to keep down heat loading, since the window faces west. I peeked through the cracks, and noticed visible daylight above top sash and below bottom sash- turns out the latch was loose and had vibrated open or thermal cycling made it all move, or something. Good thing I reputtied the windows and blacksmithed the storms when I moved in- the storm window and the film were my only weather seal.
Had to peel the film loose to close it back up. You that 'paint safe' tape you apply film with? Apparently it is only paint-safe if you change it yearly.
Which reminds me- anybody know of a vendor that sells real window latches? All the borg had were stamped metal crap, very much like the ones on these 1960 builder-grade windows. You try to dog the latch down, and the lever bends over without making the window tight.
-- aem sends...
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wrote:

Perhaps you need to see why it takes so much pressure to latch it first...Maybe to many laters of paint or swelling from moisture ??? JAWAG
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