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Light Switches and Electrical Outlets: The vegetable strainers of your home

Posted in: Common Problems

Sometimes air leaks come from the most unexpected places in your home. Take your light switches and outlets, for example. They're in the middle of a "solid" wall, there's no perceivable opening to the outdoors, but you can still get significant air leaks through them. Most homes have openings through the top interior of their walls (called the top plate) leading to the attic which vents outside. These holes are for electrical conduits, communications lines and the seams between framing lumber. If those holes aren't sealed properly they can become a big problem. Even minor leaks in your home can add up to a huge hole.

For example, if you have light switches and outlets that only leak around the junction between the faceplate and the switch itself and you have 50-60 total switches and outlets, it's equivalent to leaving a standard sliding window open more than 1/2" all day and night long! That adds up to a lot of energy loss! 

There are several solutions that try to address this problem, like gaskets and caulking around wall penetrations but by far, the best solution is to properly seal the top plates of your walls on the attic side.

One of the benefits of doing a "Blower Door" test is the ability to lower the air pressure in your home to make leaks more noticeable. These leaks can be identified with an Infrared camera, candle smoke or even just the feel of rushing air on the back of your hand. This is just one of the benefits of having a blower door test done on your home and it should be included in every professional Energy Audit. If your auditor doesn't do a blower door and infrared test in your audit, you're missing out on necessary information that you need in order to evaluate your Home Performance project.

Here's an interesting video from our friends at Energy Vanguard that shows how much air can leak through simple things like light switches.

If you live in the Denver Metro area and would like to get a proper Home Energy Audit done for your home, fill out the form on our Contact page and we'll give you a call to schedule at your convenience.

Comments

Muchos Gracias for your article. Great. Washor

Muchos Gracias for your article. Great. Schlarbaum

Muchos Gracias for your article. Great. Washor

Muchos Gracias for your article. Great. Schlarbaum

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