Air Leaks: What Are They and How They Affect Your HVAC System
It might surprise you, but your home was designed to let a certain amount of outside air in and inside air out. Through strategically-placed vents in your attic, for example, it can regulate its temperature and humidity levels, protecting itself from mold and keeping you comfortable.
WHEN VENTILATION GOES BAD
But what happens when this system malfunctions? In other words, when air comes in or goes out where it shouldn’t? We’re not talking about when you leave a window open on accident—we’re talking about when seals or weatherstripping are breached, and you don’t know anything about it.
That’s called an air leak. They’re quite hard to find, but left unchecked, they can have serious consequences for your heating and cooling systems. Furnace Doctors, your Saint Paul Park providers of furnace services and A/C repair, is here to explain.
AIR LEAK BASICS: WHERE DO I FIND THEM?
You already know what an air leak is—we just explained it! But part of knowing what these things are is knowing where to find them. Look for air leaks near
● Attic entrances
In short: basically anywhere that connects one “layer” to a different “layer” of your home. To detect leaks, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, simply have a friend shine a flashlight through the suspected gap location; you’ll see large leaks where the light shines through.
WHAT DO AIR LEAKS HAVE TO DO WITH MY HVAC SYSTEM?
Quite a bit! Your home’s HVAC system is designed to heat or cool a relatively enclosed space. You wouldn’t leave a window open with the air conditioning on, after all! Too many air leaks, though, and the effect is the same: Your HVAC system will perform poorly, and your home will become downright uncomfortable.
What’s more, you’re likely to shell out more cash than you should if your home is especially leaky. Your HVAC system will work harder, meaning you’ll need too-frequent repairs, and your energy bills will also skyrocket. Your HVAC system can actually lower your energy bills if used correctly, as we covered in our blog—so if you’re dumping cash into heating and cooling costs, you’ve probably got air leak problems.
Finally, if you’re eco-conscious, you’ll be upset to realize that air leaks mean you’re wasting energy—you don’t want to squander the Earth’s precious resources!
HOW CAN I FIX AIR LEAKS?
For comfort, environmental, and financial reasons, you obviously want to prevent air leaks in the first place. But how can you stay on top of an entire home in this respect? There are simply so many spots to check and work with!
Energy Audits Can Help
Because leakage can come from so many angles, many homeowners will hire an energy auditing company to do a comprehensive inspection. More sophisticated than the flashlight test outlined above, this process consists of multiple steps and, among other things, helps to determine how airtight your building is, which can suggest or debunk the presence of air leaks.
The auditors will make recommendations regarding how best to increase the energy efficiency of your home. They won’t provide those services, though; they simply point you in the correct direction. They may, for instance, recommend upgrading to a more efficient furnace or air conditioning model, or that you have your HVAC serviced more often. Regardless, Furnace Doctors would be happy to help.
Caulk and Weatherstripping Are Your Friends
And they’re friends of your HVAC system, too! They act as quick fixes for a variety of leakage problems. Weatherstripping can help to seal up windows and doors, while caulk can make openings tighter around electrical wiring, plumbing, and the like, according to the U.S. department of energy.
It’s important to note, though, that these products should be used judiciously. Many exterior contractors will tell you that caulk and weatherstripping, while useful, can only fix so much, and there will come a time where your windows, doors, siding, ETC will need replacement—and they aren’t wrong. Just as is the case with HVAC systems, you’ll need to weigh the cost of repair versus replacement against long-term longevity.
KEEP YOUR HVAC SYSTEM HEALTHY WITH FURNACE DOCTORS
Just like our name implies, we are here to keep your HVAC system and air purification technologies feeling their best. For your free quote, give our Saint Paul Park office a call today at 651-789-3082.