Trouble spots

The average house — even when well-insulated — contains cracks and gaps between building materials that can add up to a hole about 14 inches square.

ATTIC HOLES

Holes to accommodate pipes, ducts and vents can release a tremendous amount of heat and should be sealed with a general-purpose caulk or foam spray.

WINDOW- MOUNTED AIR CONDI- TIONERS

Window units should be removed during winter. If they cannot be removed, the area around the unit should be sealed with removable rope caulk. An window insulation blanket can reduce air infiltration.

ACCESS HATCHES

A ceiling opening from the living area into an unheated attic can be a place for heat loss. The edges should be weatherstripped, and the backside of the attic door insulated.

ELECTRIC OUTLETS

Cold air can seap through the sockets. Installing foam gaskets on all switches and outlets will help minimize this effect.

FIREPLACE DAMPERS

Missing or poorly fitting dampers allow air to move freely up and down the chimney. To test the damper’s seal, close the flue, light a small piece of paper and watch the smoke. If the smoke goes up the flue, there’s an air leak.

INSULATED CEILINGS

Recessed lights, wiring and plumbing in insulated ceilings can result in heat loss. Flexible caulk that withstands high temperatures can be used to fill gaps.

WINDOWS AND DOORS

Air leaks through gaps around windows and doors typically are a major sources of heat loss. Weatherstripping and using indoor caulk can make a noticeable difference in drafts.

A 1/8-inch gap under a 36-inch-wide exterior door may seem insignificant, but it will let as much cold air into your home as a hole with the diameter of a soda can.

Sources of heat loss

Percentage of air leakage from:

Ceilings, walls and floors

31%

Doors and windows

21%

15%

Ducts

14%

Fireplace

13%

Plumbing openings

6%

Other

Weatherstripping options

Weatherstripping — a narrow piece of metal, vinyl, rubber, felt or foam — prevents air infiltration around windows and doors by sealing gaps between the frames and moving parts when they are closed. Weatherstripping comes by the foot or in kits at any hardware or home improvement store.

SPRING TENSION SEAL

Folded strips of brass, aluminum, steel or bronze, nailed in place.

Uses: High-traffic doors, inside the track of a double-hung or sliding window, top and sides of door.

Advantages: Reliable and permanent. Invisible in place.

Disadvantages: Surfaces must be flat and smooth. Can be difficult to install. Must be nailed in place (every three inches or so) to prevent bending or wrinkling.

FELT

Plain or reinforced with a flexible metal strip. Must be stapled, glued or tacked.

Uses: Frame above upper window, sill below lower window, across lock rail. Can be applied to doorstop molding across top and down latch side.

Advantages: Easy to install. Inexpensive.

Disadvantages: Low durability. Least effective at preventing airflow. Do not use where exposed to moisture or where there is friction or abrasion. All-wool felt more durable and more expensive. Very visible.

FOAM TAPE

Rubber foam that comes in various sizes, with an adhesive backing on one side.

Uses: Top and bottom of window sash, door frames, attic hatches, non-operable windows. Good for blocking corners and irregular cracks.

Advantages: Extremely easy to install. Works well when compressed. Inexpensive. Self-adhesive may not adhere well in cold weather. Can be reinforced with staples.

Disadvantages: Durability varies with material used, but not especially high for most types. Use where little wear is expected.

REINFORCED VINYL

Pliable or rigid strip gasket attached to wood, plastic or metal strips.

Uses: Door or window stops, top or bottom of window sash, across lock rail.

Advantages: Easy installation. Low to moderate cost. Some types of rigid strip gaskets provide slot holes to adjust height, increasing durability. Comes in varying colors to help with visibility.

Disadvantages: Visible. Self-adhesive on pliable vinyl may not adhere well to metal or during cold weather.

DOOR SWEEP

Aluminum or stainless steel with a brush of plastic, vinyl, sponge or felt.

Uses: Bottom of interior side of in-swinging door, bottom of exterior side of out- swinging door.

Advantages: Relatively easy to install. Many types adjustable for uneven threshold.

Disadvantages: Visible. Can drag on carpet.

How does your home measure up?

The Alliance to Save Energy offers an interactive Home Energy Checkup that provides instant feedback, and the U.S. Department of Energy offers interactive Web tools. Many local electric and gas utilities offer energy audits or can refer you to private sources for those services.

Trouble spots

The average house — even when well-insulated — contains cracks and gaps between building materials that can add up to a hole about 14 inches square.

EXTERIOR

ATTIC HOLES

WINDOWS

AND DOORS

Holes to accommodate pipes, ducts and vents can release a tremen- dous amount of heat and should be sealed with a general- purpose caulk or foam spray.

Air leaks through gaps around windows and doors typically are a major sources of heat loss. Weatherstripping and using indoor caulk can make a noticeable difference in drafts.

AIR CONDITIONERS

A 1/8-inch gap under a 36-inch-wide exterior door may seem insignificant, but it will let as much cold air into your home as a hole with the diameter of a soda can.

Window units should be removed during winter. If they cannot be removed, the area around the unit should be sealed with removable rope caulk. An window insulation blanket can reduce air infiltration.

BASEMENT

Holes to accommodate laundry ducts and vents or plumbing pipes can be big sources of heat loss and need to be reduced with expanding foam.

INTERIOR

ACCESS HATCHES

INSULATED CEILINGS

A ceiling opening from the living area into an unheated attic can be a place for heat loss. The edges should be weatherstripped, and the backside of the attic door insulated.

Recessed lights, wiring and plumbing in insulated ceilings can result in heat loss. Flexible caulk that withstands high temperatures can be used to fill gaps.

FIREPLACE DAMPERS

Missing or poorly fitting dampers allow air to move freely up and down the chimney. To test the damper’s seal, close the flue, light a small piece of paper and watch the smoke. If the smoke goes up the flue, there’s an air leak.

ELECTRIC OUTLETS

Cold air can seap through the sockets. Installing foam gaskets on all switches and outlets will help minimize this effect.

Sources of heat loss

Percentage of air leakage from:

31%

21%

15%

14%

13%

6%

Ceilings, walls and floors

Doors and windows

Ducts

Fireplace

Plumbing openings

Other

Weatherstripping options

Weatherstripping — a narrow piece of metal, vinyl, rubber, felt or foam — prevents air infiltration around windows and doors by sealing gaps between the frames and moving parts when they are closed. Weatherstripping comes by the foot or in kits at any hardware or home improvement store.

Determine the amount you need: Measure the sides of all the windows and doors to be weatherstripped. Add about 5 to 10 percent for waste.

Before you begin

Be sure to clean and prepare the surface.

ROPE CAULK can be pushed into gaps with fingers or a putty knife.

SELECT WEATHERSTRIPPING SOLUTIONS

FELT

FOAM TAPE

REINFORCED VINYL

Plain or reinforced with a flexible metal strip. Must be stapled, glued or tacked.

Rubber foam that comes in various sizes, with an adhesive backing on one side.

Pliable or rigid strip gasket attached to wood, plastic or metal strips.

Uses: Frame above upper window, sill below lower window, across lock rail. Can be applied to doorstop molding across top and down latch side.

Uses: Top and bottom of window sash, door frames, attic hatches, non-operable windows. Good for blocking corners and irregular cracks.

Uses: Door or window stops, top or bottom of window sash, across lock rail.

Advantages: Easy to install. Inexpensive.

Advantages: Extremely easy to install. Works well when compressed. Inexpensive. Self-adhesive may not adhere well in cold weather. Can be reinforced with staples.

Advantages: Easy installation. Low to moderate cost. Some types of rigid strip gaskets provide slot holes to adjust height, increasing durability. Comes in varying colors to help with visibility.

Disadvantages: Low durability. Least effective at preventing airflow. Do not use where exposed to moisture or where there is friction or abrasion. All-wool felt more durable and more expensive. Very visible.

Disadvantages: Durability varies with material used, but not especially high for most types. Use where little wear is expected.

Disadvantages: Visible. Self-adhesive on pliable vinyl may not adhere well to metal or during cold weather.

How does your home measure up?

The Alliance to Save Energy offers an interactive Home Energy Checkup that provides instant feedback, and the U.S. Department of Energy offers interactive Web tools. Many local electric and gas utilities offer energy audits or can refer you to private sources for those services.

Trouble spots

The average house — even when well-insulated — contains cracks and gaps between building materials that can add up to a hole about 14 inches square.

ACCESS HATCHES

ATTIC HOLES

A ceiling opening from the living area into an unheated attic can be a place for heat loss. The edges should be weatherstripped, and the backside of the attic door insulated.

Holes to accommodate pipes, ducts and vents can release a tremendous amount of heat and should be sealed with a general- purpose caulk or foam spray.

Recessed lights, wiring and plumbing in insulated ceilings can result in heat loss. High-temperature, flexible caulk can be used to fill gaps.

FIREPLACE DAMPERS

Missing or poorly fitting dampers allow air to move freely up and down the chimney. To test the damper’s seal, close the flue, light a small piece of paper and watch the smoke. If the smoke goes up the flue, there’s an air leak.

WINDOWS AND DOORS

Air leaks through gaps around windows and doors typically are a major sources of heat loss. Weatherstripping and using indoor caulk can make a noticeable difference in drafts.

AIR CONDITIONERS

Window units should be removed during winter. If they cannot be removed, the area around the unit should be sealed with removable rope caulk. An window insulation blanket can reduce air infiltration.

A 1/8-inch gap under a 36-inch-wide exterior door may seem insignificant, but it will let as much cold air into your home as a hole with the diameter of a soda can.

ELECTRIC OUTLETS

Cold air can seap through the sockets. Installing foam gaskets on all switches and outlets will help minimize this effect.

THE DOLLAR TEST

With your weatherstripping in place, test for air gaps with a dollar bill. Just close a door or window with the dollar positioned across the weatherstrip. If the dollar falls out, the gap is too large; if you can’t pull it out, the weatherstrip is fine and is doing its job by stopping air infiltration.

BASEMENT

Holes to accommodate laundry ducts and vents or plumbing pipes can be big sources of heat loss and need to be reduced with expanding foam.

Sources of heat loss

Percentage of air leakage from:

31%

21%

15%

14%

13%

6%

Ceilings, walls and floors

Doors and windows

Ducts

Fireplace

Plumbing openings

Fan, vents and electrical outlets

Weatherstripping options

QUICK AND EASY DIY SOLUTIONS

Weatherstripping — a narrow piece of metal, vinyl, rubber, felt or foam — prevents air infiltration around windows and doors by sealing gaps between the frames and moving parts when they are closed. Weatherstripping comes by the foot or in kits at any hardware or home improvement store.

SEAL ’N PEEL: Removable clear weatherstrip caulk provides a watertight and weatherproof seal on windows. Seals out drafts and moisture. Peels away easily when removal is desired. Won’t damage painted surfaces.

Determine the amount you need: Measure the sides of all the windows and doors to be weatherstripped. Add about 5 to 10 percent for waste.

Before you begin

Be sure to clean and prepare the surface.

EXPANDING FOAMS: Ideal for sealing gaps more than 1/4” wide. Comes in aerosol cans and cures quickly. For use around plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, baseboards, sill plates, exhaust vents and other areas. Not removable.

 

ROPE CAULK can be pushed into gaps with fingers or a putty knife.

SPRING TENSION SEAL

FELT

FOAM TAPE

REINFORCED VINYL

DOOR SWEEP

Folded strips of brass, aluminum, steel or bronze, nailed in place.

Plain or reinforced with a flexible metal strip. Must be stapled, glued or tacked.

Rubber foam that comes in various sizes, with an adhesive backing on one side.

Pliable or rigid strip gasket attached to wood, plastic or metal strips.

Aluminum or stainless steel with a brush of plastic, vinyl, sponge or felt.

Uses: High-traffic doors, inside the track of a double-hung or sliding window, top and sides of door.

Uses: Frame above upper window, sill below lower window, across lock rail. Can be applied to doorstop molding across top and down latch side.

Uses: Top and bottom of window sash, door frames, attic hatches, non-operable windows. Good for blocking corners and irregular cracks.

Uses: Door or window stops, top or bottom of window sash, across lock rail.

Uses: Bottom of interior side of in-swinging door, bottom of exterior side of out- swinging door.

Advantages: Reliable and permanent. Invisible in place.

Advantages: Easy to install. Inexpensive.

Advantages: Extremely easy to install. Works well when compressed. Inexpensive. Self-adhesive may not adhere well in cold weather. Can be reinforced with staples.

Advantages: Easy installation. Low to moderate cost. Some types of rigid strip gaskets provide slot holes to adjust height, increasing durability. Comes in varying colors to help with visibility.

Advantages: Relatively easy to install. Many types adjustable for uneven threshold.

Disadvantages: Surfaces must be flat and smooth. Can be difficult to install. Must be nailed in place (every three inches or so) to prevent bending or wrinkling.

Disadvantages: Low durability. Least effective at preventing airflow. Do not use where exposed to moisture or where there is friction or abrasion. All-wool felt more durable and more expensive. Very visible.

Disadvantages: Durability varies with material used, but not especially high for most types. Use where little wear is expected.

Disadvantages: Visible. Self-adhesive on pliable vinyl may not adhere well to metal or during cold weather.

Disadvantages: Visible. Can drag on carpet.

How does your home measure up?

The Alliance to Save Energy offers an interactive Home Energy Checkup that provides instant feedback, and the U.S. Department of Energy offers interactive Web tools. Many local electric and gas utilities offer energy audits or can refer you to private sources for those services.

SOURCE: Lee Carlson, Ed Copenhaver and Malissa Zimmerman, Frager's Hardware; Iowa Energy Center; U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.