With energy bills soaring and incomes shrinking, saving money on your home’s heating and cooling
bills takes on new importance. Not only does sealing cracks, crevices and gaps around your home save
money, it helps make the indoor environment more pleasant and comfortable. Even if your home is
well insulated otherwise, small imperfections around pipes, vents, windows and doors can cause energy
leakage that impacts your household bottom line. Filling the gaps to prevent energy leakage, along with its energy saving benefits, will make your home more comfortable as well.
Since the bulk of energy loss comes from those small holes, cracks and gaps, it only makes sense to seal
off those areas with a substance that will permanently (or nearly so) stop the problem. This is where
spray insulation, such as Touch ‘n Foam, Great Stuff and 3M 78 Polystyrene Foam come in. These should
be available at most home improvement and hardware stores.
Finding the Leaks
Before you buy any products to seal the leaks, walk around your house to determine just what you’re
dealing with. Certain leaks may require a more expansive foam, while others may only require enough
expansion to fill a tiny gap. You’ll want to be sure to use the proper product for each area.
An obvious way to find a leak is to feel air moving. In the living space, this is usually the easiest way to
identify leaks around windows, doors, baseboards and electrical sockets. In the basement, look around
dryer and heating vent penetrations, wall cracks, areas where basement walls meet the ceiling, around
pipes, etc. Outside, look around dryer vents, gas and electric utility penetrations, the bottom of your
siding where it meets the foundation, etc. If you have a garage attached to your house, look for similar
areas as the basement.
How to Fill the Gaps
Once you know what you’re dealing with, you’ll be better informed as to what foam insulating products
you’ll need to tackle your gap issues. Foams that have a “maximum” expansion will grow significantly
from what comes out of the can. These are perfect for bigger areas that need a lot of coverage. Other
products do a similar job, but with less expanding capability, which means they won’t displace pipes or
doorframes – or be wasteful.
A Quick Note on Insulating Doors and Windows
Nothing is worse than insulating a drafty door and having the foam displace the frame making the door
harder to open and close. Using a low expansion foam specifically formulated for doors and windows
solves this problem. These products seal the cracks without expanding so much that the frames move.
Environmentally Friendly Solutions
One thing to note – some products are made with environmentally friendly ingredients. The Touch ‘n
Foam MaxFill Maximum Expanding Foam Sealant is one of them. It doesn’t use the petroleum-based raw
materials found in other foams, so it’s worth a read of the label to determine if you’re helping or hurting
the environment as you insulate your home.
Videos to Show You How
If you’re new to foam insulation, it never hurts to be prepared for what you need and will encounter
as you seal your home. Touch ‘n Foam offers several videos to assist you in choosing the right product
for the job and how to evaluate your home for energy leakage. You can access all of their videos on
YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/user/touchnfoam?feature=watch
Please note that we aren’t necessarily endorsing the Touch ‘n Foam products, they simply had the most
information and offer an environmentally friendly option. We also like that they are another local St. Louis company.