How to Detect Drafts in Your Home

Written by chelsea fitzgerald
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How to Detect Drafts in Your Home
An incense stick helps you determine the location of drafts in your home. (Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Drafts make your home feel colder during the winter and result in cool air seeping outside your home on hot days. Ultimately, drafts result in higher utility bills. Detecting the presence of drafts is not a difficult process. Once you locate the source, you can take steps to seal the draughty areas by using caulk, weatherstripping or installing proper insulation. Locating the draughty areas and doing simple home maintenance pays for itself quickly by reducing your energy bill.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Incense stick
  • Cigarette lighter or match
  • Sheet of paper (optional)

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  1. 1

    Turn off your furnace, even on cold, windy days. This helps depressurise your home so that you can locate the drafts more efficiently.

  2. 2

    Shut the doors and windows in the house.

  3. 3

    Turn all blower fans, such as bathroom or kitchen exhausts, to the "off" position.

  4. 4

    Light an incense stick with a cigarette lighter or match.

  5. 5

    Place the incense stick within three or four inches of doors and windows to detect a draft. If the smoke is blown inside or sucked out of the room area, there is a draft. Don't forget other, less obvious places for drafts, such as a mail chute, around cable and telephone wires and where gas and electricity enter your home. Other places to check for drafts are dryer vent locations, around brick, stucco or other foundations, and around window air conditioners and any other fans or vents in your home.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a sheet of paper to check for draughty areas in windows and doors. Shut the door or window on the sheet of paper. If you can remove the sheet without tearing it, this is an area where you can add weather stripping to reduce your energy bill.
  • Energy-efficient homes can save homeowners up to 40 per cent on their energy bills annually, compared to an average home that is not energy-efficient, according to Colorado State University.

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