Sealing Air Leaks Outside The House – 1

As we continue to prepare our home for the coming winter with a mind to reduce our heating costs and save money, we were very, very surprised how many opportunities for air leakage reduction we found.

We hope that our experiences will encourage you to look around the outside of your own home and seal them before it gets any colder. Finding and sealing air leaks on the outside of your home with some good caulking will save you money by reduced heating expenses in the winter as well as reduced air conditioning costs in the summer.

It is not hard; it just takes concentration. So, here are our air leakage sealing experiences on the outside of our home which you can add to your own collection of home maintenance tips and energy conservation tips.

First we look at the east side of our home where there is a water faucet, our central air conditioner and the natural gas meter within 5 feet of each other.

Did we find any air leaks? You bet.

water pipe air leakage Sealing Air Leaks Outside The House   1

The water pipe leading from the house to the outdoor faucet had some very old caulking which has shrunk with time creating air leaks into our home per the above picture.

If you can remove the caulking by simply flicking it away with your finger, it is not doing the job any more and needs to be replaced. And, that is all I did to remove it.

water pipe air leakage 2 Sealing Air Leaks Outside The House   1

Above it a picture of the same water pipe leaning into the house but now with the old shrunken caulking having been removed.

To seal the air leak I used DAP indoor / outdoor caulking.

dap 090 Sealing Air Leaks Outside The House   1

Now, I am not an artist by any means. So, the caulking job was a little messy, but that’s OK. As long as the air leak is covered with sufficient caulking that is all that matters as far as I am concerned.

dap 093 Sealing Air Leaks Outside The House   1

As shown in the above picture, I shouldn’t have to worry about air leaks in the winter or summer from this water pipe.

Now, water pipes entering the home is just one of many different areas for possible air leaks. Tomorrow, we turn our attention to the west side of our home and see what we can find.

To continue to the next article in this series, simply select this link to Part 2 where we find more air leaks on the west side of our house.

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Comments

  1. David Shepherd says:

    If you lived in a climate that sometimes had very cold winters, would it be wise to put an insulating cover on that water supply pipe into the house?

    Thanks?

  2. David Shepherd says:

    Also I happened to fill the gap around my water supply pipe myself yesterday (before I read this).

    It wasn’t particularly cold air getting in to my house I was concerned about, but insects and perhaps even mice… so I stuffed the gaps with some flexible copper-mesh. I’m tempted to go with your caulk solution in the longer-term though – when I get around to it.

  3. Dan says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your comments.

    In fact I do live in a climate with some very cold winters.

    Regarding your Q, if I understood it correctly, on putting an insulating cover on the water supply pipe into the house, first this is not that type of pipe. The one pictured above is the opposite, i.e. water is coming from the house to that pipe to allow it to be connected to a garden hose, etc. Our main water supply is underground and comes up through the basement floor to the water meter located inside.

    Inside the house there is a shutoff valve which prevents the outdoor temperature which may freeze any water in the outdoor part of the pipe from also freezing the water inside the house past the shut off valve.

    I hope this helps,
    Dan

  4. Michael Ireland says:

    Hey Dan,

    You’re absolutely right … preventing air leakage is a great way to maximize the thermal efficiency of your house. I think a lot of people aren’t aware of just how much impact this can have, even from something as small as your water pipe in this article.

    I live near Edmonton, Alberta, which has some of the most significant weather swings from Summer to Winter, so every little bit helps.

    A few Winters ago, we had the cold water line leading to our Kitchen. It was a particularly cold night (-46 C) and the wind was very strong out of the north. The plastic water line travelled along the North side of the house, about a foot away from the wall, and it passed by a very tiny gap (less than 1/8 inch) by a fresh-air makeup vent where it punched through the wall on that side. With the strong wind, there was a thin stream of *extremely* cold air that made contact with the pipe, and this is where the water froze. I used some expanding-foam type insulation (might have been “Great Stiff” or something similar by DAP) on the inside and the water line thawed in less than half an hour. Once it warmed up enough outside (a few months later), I applied some caulking to seal it from the outside.

    So I guess what I am trying to get at is first that air leakage, no matter how small, is definitely a potentially very serious issue; and second, insulating the offending gap from the inside with something that has good insulating value is a great way to “finish the job”.

    (Hmm, now that I think of it, you may have covered this type of thing later in this series … I guess I will read on haha).

  5. Dan says:

    The area, Michael, in our house with the greatest air leaks was between the brick of the fire place and the wall.

    Once I used strippable clear caulking it was amazing how much warmer the room was even on the coldest winter day. The blower test from the home energy audit showed me just how much air was leaking from those areas on either side of our brick fireplace.

    Here’s the link to the 1st of two articles on this if interested:

    http://dailyhomerenotips.com/2009/09/15/energy-conservation-home-heating-and-the-fireplace-1/

    Dan

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