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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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
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....
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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