Poorly fitting doors and windows can definitely cause drafts in your home, but they’re not usually the main culprits if your house is too cold. If it doesn’t seem much warmer indoors than outdoors, you’ll want to schedule an energy audit that includes a blower door test. The test is particularly important if you’re contemplating home improvements in Pittsburgh or surrounding areas. Once problem areas are identified, your home renovation contractor can incorporate leak sealing into your remodeling plans.
More Than Just a Temperature Problem
Your home should be your haven, but it’s hard to relax and unwind when it’s so cold that you have to wear your coat indoors. Leaks not only affect the interior temperature but can also damage your home. Air contains moisture, and when too much of it enters your home, condensation develops in the framing, roof or other areas of your home. Eventually, you’ll begin to notice mold and rot as a result of condensation.
No Opening is Too Small
The temperature in your home can drop if you have air leaks:
- Behind uninsulated outlet covers
- Around ductwork, plumbing or wiring in ceilings, walls and floors
- In your attic or walls
- Between wall and ceiling and wall and floor joists
- Along baseboards
- In foundation cracks
- In kitchen exhaust fans or fireplace flues
- Around vents, chimneys, water heaters and furnaces
- Near air-conditioning units
How the Blower Door Test Detects Leaks
The blower fan is a powerful, variable speed fan that fits in the bottom half of your open front door. The top half of the opening is covered by a temporary covering during the test. Blower fans reduce indoor air pressure by pulling air out of your house. The higher pressure air outside then flows into your home through any small opening. Energy technicians consult gauges on the fan to determine air pressure and use a smoke pencil or infrared technology to find the leaks in your home.
Preparing for a Blower Door Test
Thorough preparation is the key to ensuring that the test is accurate. Before your test begins, the technicians will:
- Close windows and exterior doors
- Open interior doors
- Close fireplace doors, fireplace dampers and wood stove air intakes
- Lower the temperature of water heaters and heaters
- Remove ashes from fireplaces
Benefits of an Energy Audit
During an audit, technicians inspect your entire house, paying particular attention to doors, windows, insulation, water heaters, heating and cooling systems and ducts. Energy technicians not only identify air leaks, but also use foam, weather stripping or caulking to seal minor leaks on the spot. If the problem is severe, they may recommend replacing or augmenting attic or wall insulation, sealing ducts or upgrading your furnace or HVAC system. Once you’ve made the recommended changes, you’ll probably want to follow up with another blower door test.
Are you planning to remodel your drafty old home? Contact us and will help you create a beautiful, energy-efficient kitchen, family room, bedroom or basement renovation that you can enjoy in comfort all year.
Energy.gov: Blower Door Test