Home Inspection Insights

Lawrence M. Watkins, Specsure Property Inspections

Homeowner’s Guide to Fixing Drafty House

drafty house 1A Homeowner’s Guide to Detecting and Correcting Air Leaks


Whether your heating/cooling bill is higher than usual, your rooms are colder than you would like, or you’re actually feeling frigid air seeping into your Western New York home, you may want to check for and seal up any air leaks. Air leaks can account for up to 30 percent of your entire heating and cooling bill, making it imperative to fix any unintended cracks and gaps.

Finding Air Leaks


Many air leaks can be detected by simply performing a visual home inspection. If Buffalo area weather permits, check exterior areas of your home where building materials meet. This includes areas in and around:


  • Corners
  • Exterior water faucets
  • Where chimneys and siding meet
  • The foundation, especially where it meets dissimilar materials.


Look for cracks and gaps inside your Western New York home in key areas, such as around:


  • Baseboards
  • Recessed lighting, which can let air escape into the attic unless fixtures are specifically designed and labeled as “insulation contact and air tight,” or ICAT
  • Switch plates and electrical outlets
  • Window and door frames, including door weather stripping
  • Cable lines, phone lines, gas lines, dryer vents and other pipes and wires
  • Other vents and fans
  • Fireplace dampers and attic hatches


Check the steadfastness of windows and doors by attempting to rattle them. Movement can indicate air leaks. Another way to spot check for tight seals is to close a window or door on a dollar bill. If you can pull out the dollar bill without it catching or dragging, you need a tighter seal around the window or door.


Fixing Air Leaks


A number of methods can work to seal air leaks, depending on the size and location of the crack or gap.


Caulk and weather stripping: Leaky areas around wiring, ducting and plumbing can be sealed with caulk. Caulk also works throughout the home for plugging up smaller openings and cracks no wider than about one-quarter of an inch. Caulk and weather stripping can effectively seal areas around windows and doors, with weather stripping a must around attic access doors. Check door thresholds and bottoms, replacing drafty ones with those that have sealing gaskets.


Foam gaskets and airtight baffles: Foam inserts can correct leaks behind switch plates and electrical outlets in walls. Baffles do the same for recessed lighting air leaks. Unscrew the bulb, push the baffle into the light fixture housing, and then replace the bulb.


Spray or squirt foam: Larger cracks or gaps can be sealed with spray or squirt foam.

Sheet metal, sheetrock and furnace caulk: Fire-resistant materials can be used to fix air leaks around furnaces, fireplace chimneys and gas-fueled water heater vents.


Giving your Buffalo area home a once-over for air leaks and applying a few quick fixes can make a big difference in your comfort levels, energy consumption and energy bills. If you are not sure where to look or you just aren’t the DIY kind of person, you can also contact a professional for a full home inspection and energy audit to ensure your house keeps you and your family warm and cozy all year long.