A drafty home can not only be a nusance, it can result in higher energy bills. Historic homes can be drafty, but modern homes can be as well. Caulk can be a simple and easy solution. Just like I’m fond of the saying: “Paint covers a multitude of sins”, I also believe “Caulk is a homeowner’s best friend.”
Applying caulk around windows lowers home energy costs by stopping air leaks, which otherwise allow heat to escape in the winter. According to the Energy Star program, most people could save about 20 percent on their heating and cooling costs by sealing up air leaks.
A homeowner can easily do many small caulking jobs on their own, saving themselves the cost of a handyman, as well as saving on their monthly energy bill.
Note to sellers: if your home is upgraded and you have energy efficient features and appliances, highlight them in your marketing. Today’s home buyers are looking for energy efficiency, and will often choose the energy efficient home over the not-so-efficient home.
Here’s a very useful guest post from our favorite Frederick home inspector, David Goldberg, with tips for getting the best results with caulk.
Caulk: The Wonder Sealant
Caulk creates a flexible seal in cracks, gaps or joints no bigger than 1/4″ to 3/8″ in width. Caulking will seal air leaks, especially around windows and door frames. It also prevents water damage when applied around faucets, water pipes, bathtubs and other plumbing fixtures. For larger openings, you can use insulating foam sprays to seal up gaps between siding and masonry or vents. Here are some tips for using caulk:
1. Clean all areas to be caulked. Use a putty knife or large screwdriver to remove old caulk and paint and make sure the area is dry.
2. Hold the caulking gun at a consistent angle–45 degrees to get deep into the crack. You’re at the correct angle when the caulk goes in immediately as it comes out of the tube.
3. Apply the caulk in one straight continuous stream, without stops and starts.
4. Avoid bubbles by sending caulk to the bottom of the opening.
5. Make sure the caulk is sticking to both sides of the crack.
6. If caulk oozes out of the crack, push it back in with a putty knife.
7. If the caulk shrinks, reapply it, forming a smooth bead that seals the crack completely.
8. For windows, apply caulk to all joints in the frame and to the joint between frame and wall.
9. If the crack is deep, use a “backer rod” — a round foam rod sold by the roll in various diameters. Pick one slightly bigger than the gap. Cut the rod and press into the gap so it’s just below the surface. Then caulk on top of it.
10. For bigger gaps, use an insulating foam spray you can buy in a hardware or home supply store. It dries like styrofoam and can be painted if necessary.
Good Tools Make a Difference
A good quality caulking gun is a necessity, and at around $10, certainly worth it over the 99cent low-end tools. The smooth action will make a difference in the continuous bead of caulk that is produced.
You’ll need a putty knife, gloves, rags and a bucket of water. The big box stores will carry all the items that you need. Caulk typically costs between $2 and $5, depending on the type.
Remember that latex caulk can be painted, and is typically easier to apply and remove than silicone. Some silicone caulks can be painted, but most cannot.
Silicone caulk is better for gaps that expand and contract and it holds up well under direct sunlight and extreme temperature changes. Consult the box store websites for a complete comparison and guide to choosing caulk.
Thanks for a great guest post David!
David Goldberg – Reliable Home Inspection
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