ER Project House: Wall Socket Seals

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by Tim Fulton on January 28, 2009

Today we have a small and simple, yet important project for the house. The project is installing wall socket seals. The seals prevent air from leaking through power outlet and switch cover plates. This is very important for older homes that don’t have insulation in the walls.

Such is the case with my second floor unfortunately. The walls are made similar to a double pane window. They have an outer layer, an air gap, an intermediate layer of lath and plaster, another air gap, and then the inner wall of lath and plaster. The design is actually quite good in theory. The theory is that perfectly still air has an R-value of 5 per inch. Not bad at all. Fiberglass insulation only has an R-value of around 3.5 per inch. The flaw in this theory is that moving air has an R-value of 1 or less per inch! So, if there are any leaks in the wall, the insulating value is pretty much shot.

That is where the seals come into play. They will seal the hole that is cut into the wall to put the switch or power outlet in. Pretty good idea, right? Well, its even better once you see the price. A package of 12 of these seals cost me $1.  They were on sale compared to their normal price of a whopping $2.  Pay back will be fast on these things if you have any leaky outlets or switches.


The installation really couldn’t be a whole lot easier. Grab your seals and a flat bladed screw driver and you’re pretty much ready to get started.  Remove the cover off the power outlet or switch.  Grab your seal and punch out the necessary holes and place it on the over the outlet/switch.  It should fit snug to ensure that it seals air tight.  Now simply replace the cover. If you have a double switch/outlet or any combination you will have to do some cutting to make everything fit up as shown above.

The only hang up you can run into is if there are large gaps around the outlet/switch box.  In this case I recommend grabbing your caulking gun and going to town around it to make sure its sealed up.

This was the case with one on my switches in my sunroom.  I found it this winter on a very breezy day.  There was literally a breeze comming through the switch panel.  I took off the cover to find a gaping gap between the box and the drywall.  I sealed it up with caulk and put on the seals and it was much better.

Thats really about it.  In most cases it is a very quick, easy, and cheap thing to do.  It is recommended you do all outlets/switches even on inside walls as warm/cold air will go up an inside wall too.  You might as well for the price of the seals.


1 Jo March 25, 2009 at 2:30 pm

I like the article and you make it sound so easy. I was wondering where you would buy the seals you were talking about.

2 Tim Fulton September 24, 2009 at 8:57 am

I got the gaskets at the local home improvement store near the electrical equipment.

3 Trish February 2, 2010 at 11:20 pm

I found them at Walmart

4 Sister November 30, 2011 at 6:29 pm

I have heard of making these insulation gaskets from foam egg cartons. Can you tell me if it is the same material? Is it as safe? I mean to use around electricity?

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