27 Apr 2022

How to Find Air Leaks in Home Windows

Air Leaks in Home Windows

Air leaks in your home windows can make it quite an uncomfortable place to be. Not to mention, air leaks can increase your heating and cooling bills by as much as 15 percent. Although it isn’t always easy to detect where the air is leaking around your windows, following these useful steps can help you find the source of the problem and seal air leaks.

How to Find Air Leaks in Home Windows

How to Start

Make sure all appliances that create air disturbances, such as your bathroom fan or clothes dryer, are switched off before starting your inspection for windows leaking air. Start by checking for any gaps and openings around your windows. Next, hold a lit incense stick next to potential air leakage spots to see if any smoke movement occurs. If movement occurs, you have an air leak.

Get a Professional Inspection

If you can’t spot window leaks yourself, you can also call a professional to conduct a home energy audit. Usually, the process includes a blower door test or an ultrasonic acoustic detector.

Blower Door Test

A blower door test is where a powerful fan is mounted to an outside door frame. The fan pulls air out of the house, which will lower the pressure inside. This causes the higher outside air pressure to flow in through openings. A smoke pencil, similar to the smoke test outlined above with incense sticks, is then used to identify leaks.

Ultrasonic Acoustic Detector

A professional can also detect windows leaking air by using an ultrasonic acoustic detector. This tool helps recognize the high-frequency hissing sounds associated with air leaks. The portable unit includes microphones, amplifiers, and audio filters. Visual indicators or earphones assist in detecting where there are air leaks.

Free Energy Assessments

Some local energy companies offer free energy assessments. If that is something you are interested in, contact your local energy supplier or state services and ask if they can send a professional energy auditor to your home.

How to Fix a Window With Air Leaks

It is important to familiarize yourself with the tools of the trade before fixing a window that is leaking air.

Caulk and Spray Foam

Caulk and spray foam are both designed to seal gaps in stationary fixtures like window frames. EnergyStar.gov recommends caulk to seal gaps ¼ inch or less and spray foam on gaps ¼ inch to 3 inches.

Weather Stripping

Weather-stripping is meant for items that move, such as doors and operable windows – in between the frames and sashes. Depending on the project, you might also need a few specialty materials, like high-temperature caulk, metal flashing, and reflective foils.


Air sealing may inadvertently cause other problems by trapping indoor pollutants like radon or carbon monoxide. Trapping radon and carbon monoxide in your home will create an unsafe environment. Before and after doing any air sealing hire a trained expert to test for radon and check if heating appliances are sending out potentially harmful gases. You may also need to install ventilation fans to maintain the safe indoor air quality in your home.

Do-it-Yourself (DIY) Projects

Although doors and windows may result in your most noticeable drafts, sealing them typically has the most impact on lowering your energy bills. Because your windows are easily accessible and air leak solutions tend to be simple, this provides you the opportunity for a simple do-it-yourself job. A window air sealing project may include rolling self-adhesive weather-stripping such as felt, vinyl, rubber, or silicone down the side of a window. These items can be found at most hardware stores.

Finding and fixing the air leaks in your house and around your windows is one of the top energy-efficient upgrades that you can make to save money on heating and cooling bills. Fill up your caulking gun, gather all necessary materials, and start sealing those holes and gaps!

Additional Reading:

Detecting Air Leaks

Air Sealing Your Home

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