From Tech Tip: Finding Air Leaks
Winter arrived quickly this year, and if you're like us, you might still be finishing up some of your log home winterizing chores. From pulling in the garden hose to digging out snow shovels and winter gear, it's just about time to turn on the heat and curl up for the snowy season. To make sure your log home is as energy efficient as possible this winter, you may want to add checking for air leaks to your log home maintenance list this winter.
Though log homes are naturally energy efficient, as your home settles and ages, it can occasionally develop minor cracks in the chinking, and around windows and doors that can lead to air leaks. Though they're usually minor, air leaks can let out the heat you're using to keep your home comfortable, and they can pull in cold air, causing draughts and chilly spots in your house. To keep your log home energy efficient this winter, you'll want to find and block those air leaks. Luckily, early winter is the best time to find them!
How to Find Air Leaks
There are a number of ways to seek out air leaks, and they're actually easiest to find when it's about 20° colder outdoors than indoors. This is because you can easily feel with your hands the places in walls and around windows and doors that are letting in the cold air.
Warm Water Method
The first and least expensive way to find air leaks is to simply go around your house with a bucket of warm water, a bit of chalk, and a ladder. Dip your hand in the warm water, and wave your wet hand past the interior walls slowly, about 6 inches from actually touching the wall. You should be able to feel any cold air leaks coming through the walls or windows. Mark air leaks with a spot of chalk, so you can come back and fix them up later.
Box Fan Method
If you have a box fan, an even more effective way to identify air leaks in your log home is to turn it into an exhaust fan. Place the fan in a window or door, blowing outwards. Cover any remaining openings in the window or door with plastic sheeting. The fan will draw any cold air coming from air leaks into your home, making it easier to find them. Again, mark any found air leaks with chalk, so you can repair them later.
While this method can cool down your house quickly, it's better to have a chilly home for a few hours than to waste a lot of money and energy heating a home that's letting your warm air escape all winter.
The most effective way to identify air leaks in a log home is to use an infrared camera. Though these can be pricey, they show you exactly where air leaks are coming from, and make it easy for you to tell when you've effectively blocked a leak, or if cold air is still coming through. If you have an infrared camera, you need only to turn it on and pan it around your house. Any change in color will identify the parts of your home that are warm, and which are significantly cooler.
How to Block Air Leaks in Log Homes
Now that you've identified the problem areas in your log home, it's time to put a stop to them before winter settles in for good. The best way to seal off air leaks is to take a two-pronged approach: first, sealing the exterior, and then caulking interior leaks where necessary.
Sealing Log Home Exterior
To stop air leaks in their tracks, go to the source. Air leaks start at the exterior of your log home and work their way inside. If it's not too cold out yet, or you get a couple of warm days over 40° F, you can use Energy Seal or Conceal to seal out the cold weather. This will also help avoid any water leaks that can occur if the air leak gets bigger.
Maintenance Caulking Interior
If it's too cold to seal the exterior of your home, you can work to caulk problem areas from the interior as well. Simply apply caulk to the leak to temporarily block it. Then, when you have a chance, you can seal the exterior as well for a more permanent fix.
Always be sure to double check that your sealing has effectively blocked an air leak. Sometimes it can be difficult to locate the exterior side of an air leak, as they can be as far as 7 inches from the leak on the inside of our log home. If you can, work with one person indoors, and one person outdoors to make sure that your exterior sealing is actually stopping the leak indoors.
Now that you've blocked the air leaks in your log home, you can rest comfortably this winter knowing your log home is as efficient, and well-heated as possible. And if you need any supplies to finish the job, from caulk to exterior seal, be sure to check out the wide selection at Timeless Wood Care Products!