If you have determined your home needs new air sealing or insulation, you might now be wondering whether it is a job you can do yourself, or whether you should hire a professional contractor. In most cases, it is often best to hire a professional but sometimes, a DIY job can do just the trick. When it comes to air sealing and insulation, the first and most crucial step is locating the source of each leak in the house. Do not underestimate the small air leaks either, as they matter too! Generally, getting a home energy audit from a professional contractor is the most efficient and reliable way to gauge the location of all air leaks in your home. During the energy audit, a contractor will use advanced diagnostic procedures to identify any leaks in the home. While it is possible for homeowners to detect leaks throughout the home, a contractor will be able to most effectively and comprehensively identify air leaks and gaps. In this article, we will be covering the instances where it is possible to do a DIY air sealing project, and when it is best left to a professional contractor.
When You Can Do a DIY Air Sealing Job
There are a few areas around a home where air leaks and gaps can be easily identified and fixed by yourself. Some of these common areas include:
- Windows and doors. Caulking and weather-stripping are two simple and effective air-sealing techniques that offer a good ROI. Caulk is generally used for stationary cracks and openings around doors and window frames, and weather-stripping is used to seal components that move, such as doors and operable windows.
- Electrical outlets. Outlets located on outside facing walls are commonly overlooked when it comes to finding air leaks and gaps, but they are notorious for air leakage. A simple and effective fix is to install foam gaskets behind the outlets and switch plates.
- Air ducts. Conditioned air escapes through incorrectly sealed joints and is lost to the unconditioned space where the duct is located. Duct mastic is inexpensive and easy to apply and can be used to seal these joints to prevent air leakage and increase efficiency.
- Attic hatch. Adding weather-stripping around the frame of your attic hatch as well as a foam board can help reduce any energy loss. And, if your attic hatch has attached stairs, an attic tent is also an effective option.
When You Should Call in a Professional
If you are a homeowner that does not have much experience working with the above-mentioned materials, it is often best to hire a professional contractor. Professional home improvement contractors have specialized knowledge, tools and equipment to comprehensively seal your home in a relatively short period of time. A professional contractor can maximize energy efficiency while still allowing for proper airflow throughout your home.
Some examples of air sealing and insulation issues that should be looked at by a professional contractor include:
- Water-saturated insulation caused by a roof leaks
- Vents which release moist or humid air into the attic instead of the outdoors
- The presence of knob and tube wiring, which creates an elevated risk of fire if it lies within close proximity to fiberglass insulation
- Recurrent ice dams in gutters and attics during the winter
- Attic rafters and floor joists which are showing signs of rot or mold infestation
- Inadequate attic ventilation
- Recessed light fixtures, which require insulation
- Blown-in insulation or large scale foam airsealing projects that require expensive, specialized equipment which requires extensive training to operate.
Calling in the help of a professional contractor will not only greatly improve the energy efficiency of your home but it will also raise the overall resale value of your home and make it more appealing to future buyers.