How to Reduce Drafts Around Electrical Outlets and Switches

Keeping winter heating bills down to a minimum is a goal for everyone.

Electrical outlets and switches are drafty behind the cover plates.Electrical outlets and switches are drafty behind the cover plates.
Sealing windows and around doors is a common remedy to keep the warm air in, and the cold air outside. You need to seal all the exterior leaks to do the job right, however. That includes closing up even the smallest points of infiltration. Even electrical outlets and switches located on outside walls leak air. The air loss from one outlet or switch may seem minimal, but if you add up the air loss from all of them, it can amount to a significant waste of heating energy.

Locate the breaker box in the house. Find the circuit breaker that supplies electricity to the room you're working in. Flip the breaker to the "Off" position.

Use a non-contact voltage tester on the first outlet or switch to make sure the electricity has been shut off.

Use a screwdriver to remove the screws in the outlet cover or switchplate; set them aside. Remove the cover plate.

Put on gloves to protect your hands. Fill the gaps all the way around the electrical box with acrylic latex caulk if they are smaller than 1/4 inch wide. Fill larger spaces with foam sealant that's designed to be used around doors and windows because it won't drip. Trim off any foam sealant that sticks out past the wall after it dries.

Place a pre-cut foam gasket on the electrical outlet or switch to block the draft. You can easily look at the one-piece gasket and see how it fits. It simply slips over the outlet or switch.

Replace the cover plate and screw it back on. Repeat the process with the remaining outlets and switches in the room.

Things You Will Need

  • Breaker box
  • Non-contact voltage tester
  • Screwdriver
  • Gloves
  • Acrylic latex caulk or foam sealant
  • Serrated blade
  • Pre-cut foam gaskets

Warnings

  • Don't use foam sealant anywhere inside the actual box. Don't apply the foam to any exposed wires.
  • Foam sealant is combustible.

About the Author

Kayar Sprang has been a professional freelance writer and researcher since 1999. She has had articles published by clients like Kraft Foods, "Woman's Day" magazine and Mom Junction. Sprang specializes in subjects she has expertise in, including gardening and home improvement. She lives on and maintains a multi-acre farm.