Out of all the rooms in your home the laundry room and the basement can be the most overlooked place for drafts. If you have a cold draft in your laundry room you are wasting energy and money. Needless to say, it’s darn cold in the laundry room in the winter. Learn how to test for drafts in your laundry room and how to fill cracks, gaps and larger drafty areas. It will be much warmer in your laundry room if you remove the space where air is infiltrating your home.
No fancy gadgets are needed to test for drafts in your laundry room; you can use a stick of incense, but please take care not to burn anything as you wave the tester around.
Slowly move the incense along the corners of the room checking for patterns of air flow. This draft tester is pretty cheap and pretty reliable too. After you test the corners of the room, test around light sockets, plumbing and any other area that has a hole in the wall. Move any large appliances so you can check for drafts behind them along the walls.
After you have tested for drafts you can determine how much material you will need to seal up the areas of air infiltration. If you have hairline cracks you can seal them with a sealant and then paint the surface.
If you have mid-sized sized cracks that you will be filling and painting then you’ll want to use spray foam insulation to fill the cracks.
If the holes along your floor joists from the floor above are unfilled you’ll need to fill a bigger gap. Depending on the size of the gap you may be able to get by with a big gap filler can of spray foam, but if it’s more than an inch or two across then you may want to use the less expensive fiberglass insulation. Use fiberglass insulation for larger gaps in areas like floor joists.
If your basement is unfinished you may have greater challenges.Many people think that it’s not that important to seal up an unfinished basement, but this is not true. Cold air in the basement can result in frozen pipes, can make the floor above be very cold, and can allow a much greater level of air infiltration into the spaces above since the internal barriers to air are generally much less than that typically provided by the external barrier. This in turn makes those areas colder in the winter and causes you to need more heating.
In one basement a previous owner had chosen to remove the cement blocks in the wall in order to install a dog door. This left a single layer of wood with no insulation and gaps around the edges of the door. The door had subsequently rotted and begun to further decay around the edges, so they had covered the door with a sheet of 1/4 inch plywood, which also rotted. To make matters worse, in breaking open the doorway they dislocated adjacent blocks which were then simply set in place, leaving cracks between the blocks. In this case the entire section of wall needed to be repaired with cement blocks and cement.
In another case the basement walls had small windows which became undesirable when an addition was added to the house. Rather than removing the windows and filling the hole with cement blocks and concrete, they simply covered the holes with plywood, with the same result as in the house with the dog door; the plywood rotted.
These last two cases are more extreme than you may be likely to encounter, but by sealing up these problems you can make a big difference in the comfort level of your home.
By sealing up areas that leak cold air into your home you are making your home more energy efficient and more comfortable to live in.