Spotting the signs of leakage and drafts before it’s too late

Looking for drafts in a home is an essential task to take on before winter.

In my last piece, I lamented by first reaction to fall and the end of summer, but one day later that spectre has passed and I've said goodbye to my air conditioner. As a result, I'm ready to start focusing on the home improvement projects that could keep me and my wife snug and content during the winter months. One such task I'm bracing for this weekend is a full survey of our two-story ranch-style home.

Experts suggest the best way to start the process is by making a detailed sketch of your home's floor plan. This can be a great reference point, one that will allow you to better locate areas where you've experienced costly leaks and other damage in the past. I recommend double-checking all areas where slanted ceilings or traditional walls meet the ceiling, as these tend to be the soft spots in any home.

However, when reviewing these problems areas, it helps to know what to look for. For example, damp insulation could indicate a leaky roof, while rotted attic rafters could simply indicate moisture problems. If there aren't any issues here, say a quiet thank you, it's time to move on to addressing drafts.

Air leaks are often in the attic and basement of homes, and these can be the biggest drains on any energy bill. Remember also that this is supposed to be a preliminary survey of home improvement projects you need to address in the future. If you see that one or more of these problems persist, don't try and tackle them all this weekend.

If you notice a bunch of drafts, for instance, the best short-term solution may be to rely on small electric heaters for a bit. You can pick up ceramic or convection heaters for a relatively low cost online, and these won't strain your heating bill until you tackle the problems with a more permanent solution.

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