Finding Air Leaks with a Wizard Stick

Allison A. Bailes IIIby: Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

A great new tool for home performance diagnostic testing has come onto the market – The Wizard Stick. It’s basically a small, hand-held theatrical fog machine that uses the same non-toxic fluid as its larger, more prolific brethren.

Wizard Stick Fog GeneratorFor the home energy auditor or the home performance contractor, this device provides an effective way to find air leaks and a compelling way to demonstrate them to homeowners. With a Blower Door depressurizing the home, you can walk around with the Wizard Stick, pull the trigger, and watch to see if the smoke just hovers near where it’s released or is blown away by air being pushed into the house through a leak.

It makes a nice stream of smoke and produces it quickly when you pull the trigger. Although it doesn’t have the neutral buoyancy that chemical smoke puffers have, I haven’t noticed that it’s far enough away from neutral to be a problem for home energy auditors.  And of course, it has the big advantage of not being toxic. The common chemical smoke puffers available use titanium tetrachloride, which is very corrosive. Several years ago, I kept one of these in a metal locker, and even though it was in a plastic bottle inside a plastic bag, the inside of that locker showed significant corrosion after a short time. I’m happy to find a non-toxic smoke device that works. Read the rest of this entry »