Trying to seal up air leakage in my 50’s fixer...it never feels warm

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I’ve got the windows caulked.....do I need to do gaps in the base boards....where else would cold air leak in? 350 $ utility bill. 850 sq ft.

  13 answers
  • Rose Broadway Rose Broadway on Nov 11, 2017
    If you have everything pretty well sealed up I'm wondering if you have sufficient insulation in the walls and attic. Also the house will be harder to heat if you have a crawl space instead of a basement. Also, try setting a couple of small electric heaters where needed.
  • Ellis Ellis on Nov 11, 2017
    Around any electrical box in an outside wall--wall switches or outlet boxes, this is often a source of drafts. There are kits available of ready-made insulators, on sale at most hardware/big box stores. All you need to do is unscrew the cover plate, put the foam insulator in place, then re-attach the cover plate. It drastically reduces drafts that come in from poorly insulated outside walls.

    It's an easy fix, and it helped a lot in my place.
  • Dfm Dfm on Nov 11, 2017
    every bedroom has its own electric heater, plus shrink wrap on windows. No crawl space full basement.
  • Dfm Dfm on Nov 11, 2017
    how do I figure out if the walls are insulated or not?
    • Ellis Ellis on Nov 11, 2017
      Sometimes you can tell where there are openings, like around electric outlets, where pipes enter walls, etc.

      Since you have a full basement, go down there and check for drafts at the house sill--where the first floor meets the concrete foundation. That can be insulated, too, and might keep your first floor floors warmer. Go to sites like This Old House and Family Handyman, etc., on the web for other ideas, or get a home fix-it book from the library.

      You can sometimes get a free home energy audit from your electric utility company too. Also have your furnace checked out to make sure it's working properly.
  • Sharon Sharon on Nov 11, 2017
    Most power companies offer a free energy efficiency analysis of your home to learn where your losing energy. They use a thermal camera to find cold spots, leaks and then make recommendations to help you save energy.

  • Joanne lueke Joanne lueke on Nov 11, 2017
    I grew up in a 1950s built home so I know what you mean. The biggest culprit is usually windows but it sounds like you have that covered. The next would be to replace the weather stripping around the outside doors and add the seals on outlets and light switches on the outside walls. Both cheap and easy to do. If you have a fireplace make sure to close the damper when its not being used (but make sure to open it before you light a fire). Since heat rises I would suggest a ceiling fan in the rooms you use most if your wiring will handle the load. You can reverse the direction of the blades as the seasons change and that will help with comfort year round. And last I would check your attic insulation because the type of insulation has changed since the 50s and is much better now. Best wishes and happy holidays!
  • Sharon Sharon on Nov 11, 2017
    Since heat rises, I would do attic space insulation first. You can roll out fiberglass batts. or you could do blow-in insulation.
    You lose a lot of energy through windows, so you can put plastic over the windows using a blow dryer; dig out the old storm windows from the garage, basement or attic and get them up; hang thermal curtains over the windows or get cellular blinds on them.
    I have an old house, and I find leaving the heat at the same temperature uses less energy versus turning it down during day and then turning up in the evening.
    If you have a ceiling fan, look for the little switch on there to reverse the fan so the warm air is blown down from the ceiling into the room on low speed.

  • Kelly Denoyer Russell Kelly Denoyer Russell on Nov 11, 2017
    Do you have enough insulation in the attic? Maybe the walls have no insulation?
  • SandyG SandyG on Nov 11, 2017
    Check around all your outlets and switches. You can buy a felt-type, precut insulation piece that will fit in these openings. Then just put your cover plate back on. Make sure to have door have weather stripping around them and have under door seals. Heavier drapes are great for helping insulate window areas. If unused chimney, make sure to close off flue.
  • Inetia Inetia on Nov 12, 2017
    We bought an older house and it has no insulation in the walls. We had insulation blown into the walls, then we laid insulation in the attic.
  • Tdw11212873 Tdw11212873 on Nov 12, 2017
    Did I miss something? How is your home heated? Space heaters? Heat Pump? Gas? Oil?, another killer could be the water heater if it electric? A failed heating element will cause not only a shortage of hot water but will also drive the electric bill up due to prolonged heating with just one element trying to maintain the pre set temperature.

  • Dfm Dfm on Nov 12, 2017
    natrual gas furnace...with the hot air vents at the ceiling level. Most of the hot air stays there...have a small fan running and pointed up hoping to move the heat down ..doesn’t at this time and iowa only gets colder..will check the hot water tank.
  • Dfm Dfm on Nov 13, 2017
    the furnace is natural gas. This is a realitivly small house at 850 sq. Ft finished my bedroom is hanging out at 58 degrees. 68 in the living room. I’d like to ditch the space heaters. They will run up the electoral bill. Thankfully I have a comfortable sofa to sleep on, and 2 cats to warm my feet. I’ve not seen frost on any walls...I have 1 window to caulk yet, and another to shrink wrap. I think part of the issue is where the thermostat was placed. It’s in a hallway with no air flow. if I want to get warmed up I turn on the bathroom heater and enjoy 15 min of heat. My fan that had been pointed at the ceiling last year to move the heat down bit the dust. . I’ve lived in a 50’s house before this one...never this cold. also 850 sq ft. I don’t know what’s up with the furnace..it blips on only for short times
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