Green Building/Remodeling

Published on July 21st, 2015 | by Glenn Meyers

Maintenance Tips: Installing Foam Gaskets to Insulate Your Electrical Outlets

Electrical outlets are usually one of the last items in a house to be insulated with foam gaskets. Does this make a difference in overall heating efficiency? Yes, yes, and YES! If your exterior wall outlets are not insulated, they are little more than a hole in the wall leading outside.

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An easy way to reduce heating and cooling costs is to insulate your electrical outlets. Adding a foam insulating gasket creates a tight seal between the wall and the faceplate without altering the appearance of the electrical socket.

When you are ready to take on this energy saving project, go pick up a number of foam gaskets. Many home improvement centers carry insulating gaskets and they are far better to use than homemade versions.

electric outlet_shutterstock_255506035Put safety first

Before starting this project, go to the circuit box and switch off the circuit that services the part of the house where you will be installing gaskets. In newer houses, circuits are usually marked. If they aren’t, use an indelible pen like a Sharpie and mark where the circuits connect. This will make everybody’s future project work much easier.

Installation steps

Installing these foam insulators is an easy task that requires only a flat head or Phillips screwdriver. Remove the screw or screws that hold on the faceplate of the outlet or light switch. Then punch out the appropriate pieces so that the foam cutout will fit over the hole that the electrical socket makes.

Replace the faceplate using the screws you removed.

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What you need to insulate outlets

  • Screwdrivers (slotted and Phillips head)
  • Outlet gaskets – Make sure you purchase the gasket that matches your outlet design
  • Scissors

Installation directions

  1. Turn off power breakers at the circuit breaker box to prevent any electric shock. This is a very important safety precaution.
  2. Unscrew the outlet cover/switch plate. Set it and the screw aside.
  3. Take your gasket and place over the exposed faceplate lining up the holes so that the sockets are exposed. (You may need to cut the gasket to better fit your outlet so that the sockets are fully exposed or so that it is entirely hidden behind the faceplate).
  4. Replace the outlet cover and screw into place over the newly installed gasket.

If you still think you are losing heat through an outlet, or you noticed large gaps between the electrical box the best way to do this is through adding spray foam insulation or caulking. When this simple task is finished, start calculating the added energy savings.

Image credit: Electrician unscrewing faceplate via Shutterstock, cables in electric outlet via Shutterstock

Video via Secco Home Services

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