Save On Heating Costs: Find All Of Your Home's Heat Leaks With A Do-It-Yourself Pressurization Test

Are you looking for ways to cut down on your heating costs this winter? While the efficiency of your heating unit plays a big role in heating costs, the condition of your house plays an even bigger one. The most efficient furnace in the world won't keep a home warm if that home is riddled with gaps and cracks through which warm air can escape and cold air can enter. The good news is that you can find every one of those gaps and cracks by performing a do-it-yourself pressurization test.

Take Care Of The Obvious Air Leaks Before You Begin

A pressurization test is intended to find all of the small air leaks in your house that cannot otherwise be detected. Larger air leaks should be located and tended to first in order to increase the accuracy of the pressurization test. 

Outside The House - Examine any location on the outside of your house where 2 building materials come together. This includes all of the exterior corners of your house, siding seams, around the perimeter of your home where the house meets the foundation, and any spot on your home with a protruding chimney or water spigot. If you see cracks or holes in any of these locations, seal them with weatherstripping, caulking, or weather sealant.

Inside The House - If you have a door in your house that allows light to pass through between the door and its frame, then you're losing a lot of warm air. Reapply the door's weatherstripping and invest in a good draft stopper. 

Another trick for spotting air leaks in doors and windows is to give them a shake; a sturdy, airtight window or door won't budge when shaken. If you have a window or door that rattles, however, you're losing heat through it and you'll need to apply weatherstripping or caulking around its edges.

Once you've checked your windows and doors, complete your visual examination by looking for cracks or gaps around your wall outlets, light switches, baseboards, and attic hatch. Also, examine any location where vents or wires enter your house. Seal any cracks you find with an appropriate sealant, and then move onto the pressurization test. 

The Pressurization Test (Perform On A Windy Day)

You Will Need:

  • A box fan
  • A few incense sticks
  • Matches or a lighter

The Procedure:

  1. Turn off your furnace, your water heater, and any other combustion appliance you have in your home.
  2. Shut all windows and doors in your home, and close off any vents.
  3. Remove the air from your home. You can do this by turning on your stove fan and bathroom fan(s); both of them move air from inside your home to outside. Place your box fan in a window so that it blows outside.
  4. Light an incense stick and work your way slowly along each wall of your house, holding the incense stick a few inches from the wall. Make 3 passes for each wall -- one across the top of the wall, one along the middle of the wall, and a final one low on the wall. With your house depressurized, air that enters even the tiniest little crack will make the smoke of the incense stick swirl, bend, or curve. As long as you are diligent about checking every single wall with the incense smoke, the pressurization test will pinpoint any small air leak that you may have missed during your strictly-visual examination.

Seal any air leak you find during your pressurization test with an appropriate sealant. Your home is now officially airtight and you're successfully saving money on your heating costs.

Further your savings by having your local heating service stop by and give your furnace the once-over. They can clean your furnace, change the filter, and make sure all of its components are in good working order. Click here for info on the services a heating contractor can offer you. A well-maintained furnace is a more efficient one, which means more savings in your pocket during the winter heating cost crunch.