As we move into the cooler months, it is a great time to stop the air leaks around your home.
Air leaks are the result of holes in the thermal envelope of your home. The thermal envelope is the protection layer between the inside and outside temperatures – for example siding, drywall, insulation, roofing, foundation, housewrap, caulk and windows. All of these different materials come together and there are joints, seams, and cracks allowing air to blow into your home. This results in higher energy bills and a lack of comfort – sometimes in one room and sometimes in your entire house.
Taking time to seal the holes will improve the comfort of your home as well as potentially reduce your electric bills. One place that is easy to improve is around light switches and electric outlets. You can see in the photo above this light switch on an exterior wall of a home that without thermal imaging looks find. However, on the photo below you can see that once I use my thermal camera there are huge air leaks all around the box. While one light switch will not impact the overall comfort of an entire home, if you add all the light switches and electrical outlets up around the house, that is one big hole in the thermal envelope.
To seal this home, take the decorative cover plate off the wall and there you will see a plastic box. If there is a gap, even a narrow gap, between that box and the drywall / plaster, that is where air is leaking through the wall. Seal this gap with a silicone caulk. Do this for all light switches and electrical outlets on both interior and exterior walls. You can also add a thin insulation pad, socket sealer, that is made specifically for this application.