.....for the home. Is it worth it?
I repaired a loose connection in an outlet on an exterior wall. Upon doing so, I noticed a draft of cold air from under the outlet. Therefore, I temporarily plugged it. Directly under the that area in the basement above my drop ceiling panels, also on the exterior wall, is another draft which appears to be coming from the side door area. Two summers past, I used expand foam and caulk along the entire side of the house and filled in some questionable areas around the door with cement (threshold area), hoping I might conquer this draft. Nope, nothing doing and it's aggravating. Therefore, the infrared red scanning idea comes to mind. I need to find this leak, along with other reasons why part of my house is colder than the rest.
I have one of those. The problem I encounter is pinpointing the exact
location. I can point to a corner on wall, an outlet or wall switch which
has a draft, but it doesn't pinpoint the exact location of origin. I'm a
person who likes to fix the problem correctly at the onset.
I am unable to pinpoint this particular draft and it's driving me insane.
The HVAC supply houses sell little smoke bombs for detecting leaks in
air handling systems. You may be able to buy some but notify the fire
department if you are going to use any. Go to where you suspect the
air could be coming from and set one off.
My first unit has that laser aimer too - but the area beingmeasured
is a whole lot bigger than the laser spot!!!
I use it for automotive and machine work, checking temperatures.
Just got a Black and Decker "thermal leak detector" for Christmas from
my oldest daughter.
You "calibrate " it to wall temperature and set the switch to the
allowable temperature gradient -1, 5, or 10 degrees F. It shows a
freen spot on the wall within that range, and red or blue if warmer or
colder. Makes a quick sweep pretty painless. Canadian Tire had them
on sale just before Christmas for something like $35. A few weeks
earlier they were on for $50. Regular price is $100 ($99.95)
.....for the home. Is it worth it?
I repaired a loose connection in an outlet on an exterior wall. Upon doing
so, I noticed a draft of cold air from under the outlet. Therefore, I
temporarily plugged it. Directly under the that area in the basement above
my drop ceiling panels, also on the exterior wall, is another draft which
appears to be coming from the side door area. Two summers past, I used
expand foam and caulk along the entire side of the house and filled in some
questionable areas around the door with cement (threshold area), hoping I
might conquer this draft. Nope, nothing doing and it's aggravating.
Therefore, the infrared red scanning idea comes to mind. I need to find this
leak, along with other reasons why part of my house is colder than the rest.
Many utility companies have energy saving programs that do that sort of
thing at low cost. The way you describe the drafts, it may easily pay for
itself in a short time.
How much would it cost to scan? I believe you can rent one online, or buy
one for US$1600.
Or try using smoke? Use an incense or something similar. If there's a draft,
it should be easily detected. Another idea is to create a negative pressure
in the house (e.g. by turning on a strong exhaust fan or window fan). This
would make the draft stronger and easier to detect
Harbor Freight has a $19.99 and a $25.99 unit (coupon for this one).
I got one a week ago, only thing I don't like is the laser pointer
points below the hot spot, but as long as I remember that, it has been
Take a look at the EXTECH i5 Compact Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera:
The unit is sold by the HVAC supply outfit Johnstone Supply Company.
Their price is $1,595.00 but you could give them a call if there is
a branch in your area and ask them if they have sold one to a local
HVAC contractor and if they would be willing to give you the name of
the contractor because you would like to have a survey done. Perhaps
someone at Johnstone could also do it for you and use your case as a
demonstration for some of their customers?
I had a blower door test done, my hvac co did it free as part of my
new install. Blower door tests are cheaper to hire out and show air
infiltration as the tech goes around with a Smoke Stick, and pinpoints
leaks for you. I found areas I never imagined and sealed them. A IR
Thermal photo will only show areas with poor insulation, not air
comming in. Best would be to hire a pro to do an energy audit and both
tests. Buy you could do an air infiltration test yourself with a
strong fan sealed in a window or door, and a smoke stick you get at
hvac supply stores, or something like a Punk thats used to light
fireworks. A pro doing the blower door test will give you a printout
of what your homes air exchanges per day are, what they should be and
how to improve your problem. Its worth the 3-500 a test should cost.
IR photo could indirectly show air coming in if there is a temperature
difference between outside air and indoor air. When cold air rushes in
through gaps, it cools the area around the gap, which shows up as streaks in
the IR scan. You can combine blower door, IR, and smoke all in one test.
BTW, a cold draft does not necessarily have to come through a gap. If you
have a spot with weak insulation, the air becomes cold there, and creates a
convection which you may feel as a draft. This is what I feel whenever I am
near a window.
Saw this AM that Lowe's and Home Depot rent the infra-red cameras.
Yes, no, absolutely, maybe, and I don't have a clue.
It all depends on what your skill levels are, and how well you want to fix
Example: You may see heat escaping from some opening. As you stated, just
stuff it full of insulation, right? No. What if it's coming from a broken
taping of a duct? Or some opening that will just keep letting air in or
out? It's not as easy as just renting a camera, and plugging holes. You
want to find the root causes, and that takes time, expertise, and in some
Enter, the professional. Some of the companies that will come out and do an
analysis are like car repair shops. No matter if you just need front
shocks, they will give you an estimate that includes tie rod ends, springs,
ball joints, and on and on and on.
For the cost of just renting one of the units, WHAT I WOULD DO, is FIRST,
get access ready to all areas so I can have the least time on the rental.
Then rent one, and see if there are any very obvious things that are
broken, loose, torn, or just leaking.
Remember that you do not want to make your house air tight, as that will
cause condensation and mold or heat build up in the summer.
If there are some simple things that you can do, do them yourself. If it
gets complicated, get SEVERAL bids, BUT DO NOT TELL ANY OF THEM THAT YOU HAD
ANOTHER COMPANY OUT, OR WHAT THEY PROPOSED TO DO OR PRICES. Sometimes, they
will tell you what's wrong, and after they leave, you can fix it for less.
If you have a soffit vent that's spewing warm air, it means you have
something putting positive warm pressure into your attic, like a loose duct.
It doesn't mean you have to seal all soffit vents and make your attic sweat.
You need to find and fix the root cause.
I'd rent it again this summer, and see if you have any places where cold air
is coming out of your AC system, as they may be isolated in some part, and
you would want to find out those, too.
Then caulk, insulate, flash, etc.
Let us know what you find, and a story about it so we may learn something
from your experiences.
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