Understanding Air Leaks
Building Structure 101Air leakage occurs when outside air enters and conditioned air leaves your house uncontrollably through cracks and openings. A house is made from thousands of parts and pieces. Small gaps and cracks occur wherever one part of your house joins another. To make matters worse, many joints that are tight initially don't stay that way. Even before a house is completely built, wood starts to shrink, materials expand and contract at different rates, and connections work lose. Many of these cracks and gaps become leakage points that need to be sealed in order to save energy.
It is unwise to rely on air leakage for ventilation. During cold or windy weather, too much air may enter the house. When it's warmer and less windy, not enough air may enter, which can result in poor indoor air quality. An added benefit is that sealing cracks and openings reduces drafts and cold spots, improving comfort.
Detecting Air LeaksUnlike water leaks, air leaks are trickier to locate. Although we can't usually see air leakage points, we can certainly feel their effects in the form of cold, drafty rooms during winter weather and interior "hot spots" during the summer. Air leaks cause financial as well as physical discomfort because they have a huge impact on utility expenses. With too much "conditioned" (heated or cooled) air leaking out of the house and too much outside air leaking in, your HVAC system has to work harder and longer than necessary to maintain comfortable interior temperatures. Since nearly half of your total utility expenses go to heating and cooling, air leaks are costly. ENERGYPROS™ certified energy auditors are trained in the proper use of infrared carmera technology, blower door testing, and duct blast testing to quickly identify air leaks throught the building structure.
1. Thermal Imaging (Infrared Camera)A visual inspection of your insulation just doesn't cut it. Thermal imaging or thermography, detects heat patterns or temperature changes in objects. They are used to identify patterns of cold or heat loss from your property that are invisible to the naked eye. This allows ENERGYPROS™ energy auditors to quickly discover the energy inefficiency problems of your home including air leaks, poor insulation, ventilation issues and even electrical issues (hot spots). We maintain certified "Thermographers" on staff.
2. Blower Door TestA blower door is a powerful fan that mounts into the frame of an exterior door. The fan pulls air out of the house, lowering the air pressure inside. The higher outside air pressure then flows in through all unsealed cracks and openings. The auditors may use a smoke pencil to detect air leaks. These tests determine the air infiltration rate of a building (ie. building leakage).