You sit down in your favorite chair to enjoy a relaxing evening at home. As your favorite show comes on, the furnace turns off as your Sacramento home reaches the perfect temperature. Immediately after the furnace goes off, though, you notice a draft coming from a nearby window. Many homeowners would just ignore this problem and wait for the furnace to turn back on. However, ignoring drafts or other air leaks around your home could spell major trouble for your heating system. To conserve energy and protect your furnace, you need to understand the significant impacts that air leaks can have. Here is a guide from Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning to help you make the most of your home comfort systems.
How Much Air Actually Leaks?
Leaky windows can cause up to 25-30% of the heat loss from your home. That essentially means that you’re making your furnace 25-30% less efficient than it could be if you took the time to make your windows airtight. Over the course of a year, leaky windows can add several hundred dollars to your utility bills, especially if you live in a large home with a lot of windows. That’s why investments to help improve the seals around your windows are more than worth the cost involved.
What Happens When Air Leaks Occur?
When it’s cold outside, your furnace turns on and heats the air inside your home. This results in a major temperature difference between the inside and outside air. If your windows aren’t efficient, the warm air will immediately begin seeking out an area of energy that’s less concentrated because of thermodynamics. This area of lower energy concentration is located outside, where the air is cooler. This means that the warm air will escape the interior of your home as it flows outside. Eventually, the air around your windows will reach equilibrium, meaning the air inside and outside is close to the same temperature. This will allow cold air from the outside to flow into your home, creating further discomfort.
Leaks in Unused Rooms
In an effort to avoid window repairs, some people try to avoid using rooms with leaky windows. They’ll close the doors and vents to these rooms, hoping that the rest of their home will stay warmer as a result. Unfortunately, this is not a good strategy. Interior doors tend to be far less airtight than exterior doors. This means that cold air from unused rooms will constantly be rushing into the rest of your home, resulting in discomfort and increased furnace use. Plus, when you close the vents in certain rooms in your home, you will increase the pressure in the air ducts, potentially resulting in a malfunction of your HVAC system that Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning will need to repair.
Constant Temperature Changes
One major downside of not repairing leaky windows is that they create constant temperature swings in your home. On cold days, the temperature will drop quickly in rooms with leaky windows. Then, your furnace will run hard to get your home back to the desired temperature. These wild temperature swings can cause many other issues beyond discomfort. For example, if you have hardwood floors or wood cabinets, frequent temperature swings can cause cracking due to the way the moisture in the wood swells and contracts as the air temperature changes. Plus, these constant temperature changes can negatively affect the health of pets, especially small pets like guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits. Maintaining a constant temperature is key to maintaining a comfortable and healthy home.
Types of Susceptible Windows
Some types of windows are especially susceptible to inefficiency. Single-pane windows, including stained-glass windows, are especially inefficient. That’s because single-pane windows suffer from what’s known as “thermal transfer.” This is when thermal energy is lost to the outside because the same pane of glass is touching both the inside and outside air. Double-pane windows feature a layer of gas between two panes of glass to greatly reduce thermal transfer. No matter which type of windows you have, though, if you’ve had them installed for more than a few years, there’s a good chance that you have leaky windows. That’s because most caulking around windows tends to begin breaking down after just a few years, requiring replacement to restore its original protection.
Finding Air Leaks Around Your Windows
To help reduce the workload on your furnace, you want to seal as many leaks as possible around your windows. At the same time, you won’t want to waste time or money fixing windows that aren’t leaking. To help streamline the process, here are a few tips that the pros at Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning use to find air leaks. First, do a visual inspection. If there are cracks in caulking or other types of weatherstripping that you can see with the naked eye, there’s a good chance that air is coming through those cracks. Second, you can do a smoke test. Move a stick of burning incense around the edge of your window. If at any point you notice that the smoke is moving toward the window, there is likely a crack in that location. Since the smoke is hot, it will be drawn to the area of lower thermal energy concentration, just like the warm air inside your home. Once you pinpoint the location of the air leaks, it’s time to do some repairs.
How to Fix Air Leaks
To provide the long-term comfort you seek and avoid putting excess wear and tear on your furnace, the pros at Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning highly recommend repairing your windows. Caulking, although time-consuming, will provide the most benefits in terms of stopping air leaks. To replace caulk around windows, you’ll first need to remove the old caulk using a sharp blade or caulk removal tool. If you don’t do this step first, the old caulk will continue to crack and cause the new caulk to split apart. When you apply the new caulk, use your finger or a wet sponge to smooth and shape the caulk around your window frame. When done correctly, this step will help ensure that the caulk gets into the crevices around your window so that they’re leak-free.
We Take Comfort Seriously
At Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, we believe in keeping our customers comfortable in their homes. That’s why we’re proud to help you with projects designed to improve the efficiency of your windows. We can also help you with air conditioner repair, furnace replacement, and air duct cleaning. If you need help with your plumbing, we offer water heater repair and installation so that you can upgrade your entire utility room using only one company. For over 30 years, Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning has been proud to serve the people of this community with honest and quality work. That’s why we’re able to maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. It’s also why we regularly receive five-star customer reviews. To learn more about making your home more comfortable, contact us at Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning today.