Over time, your home’s insulation will deteriorate due to cracks, gaps and holes. Though inevitable, these air leaks lead to wasted energy and money because your conditioned air is moving outside instead of cooling or heating your home. At the same time unconditioned air from outside can enter your home and thwart your heating or cooling efforts. This also creates uncomfortable drafts. What’s more, unnecessary energy waste like this puts greater strain on your HVAC system since it has to work overtime to get the job done. Luckily, sealing air leaks with caulking and weatherstripping is a relatively inexpensive and easy way to lower your energy costs by 10 to 15 percent. Learn more about the techniques used and how this simple do-it-yourself job can help you start saving energy today.
Sealing Air Leaks: General Tips
- First, find out where your home leaks air by performing a simple test. On a windy day, hold up a smoke pen or lit incense stick next to doors, windows, attic openings, electrical outlets, plumbing fixtures and any other spots that may provide a route for air to pass through. You’ve found a leak when the smoke travels horizontally.
- Before you begin sealing air leaks, clean and dry the area thoroughly.
Basic Caulking Facts
Joints, cracks and gaps that are less than 1/4-inch wide between building materials and components are sealed with caulking. Caulking is also used around plumbing and ceiling fixtures to avoid damage caused by water leaks. You’ll likely use a half-barrel caulking gun that contains a caulking cartridge to apply the materials, but some cartridges are already pressurized and don’t need the aid of a caulking gun to work.
Tips for Applying Caulk
- No matter what caulk you decide to use, try to follow the package instructions to the letter.
- Caulking should only be done when it’s dry outside and the temperature is above 45 degrees.
- Remove old caulking or paint on the areas to be treated, and then clean and dry the areas well.
- Apply the caulk in one continuous stream.
- Make sure the caulk sticks well to both sides of a seam or crack.
- Release the trigger of the gun before pulling away to prevent applying too much.
- When you need to caulk in a deep crack, hold the gun at a consistent 45-degree angle.
- Make sure you apply caulk in all of the joints and the joint between the wall and frame when you seal leaks around a window frame.
- Use a putty knife to push back caulking that oozes through any gaps or holes you’re sealing.
Basic Weatherstripping Facts
The moveable features of your home, such as doors and windows, are usually sealed with weatherstripping. There are many different types of weatherstripping. Each kind is meant for sealing air leaks in specific areas, so the type you use depends on where you’re planning on installing it. For example, reinforced foam can be used on the bottom of your doors and tension seal can be used inside the track of a sliding or double-hung window. It’s smart to make sure the type you choose will be able to withstand the various factors that cause it to degrade for as long as possible, such as frequent foot traffic through your front door.
Tips for Applying Weatherstripping
- Instructions on weatherstripping packaging offer valuable tips and techniques and tell you which supplies are needed for the application.
- The various kinds of weatherstripping come in different depths, lengths and widths.
- Make sure the weatherstripping is thick enough to form a tight seal when the window or door is shut but that it’s not so snug that it hinders opening or closing, when needed.
- Figure out how much weatherstripping you’ll need by measuring around the doors and windows that need it and then add 5 to 10 percent to that number.
- It’s recommended that you measure the area where the weatherstripping is going to be installed twice before you make any cuts.
- Keep sections of weatherstripping tightly fit and in one continuous piece along any areas where it’s being installed.
- Though not as durable, a less expensive type of weatherstripping such as felt or tape can be used in spots with light use or low traffic. Cheaper types generally work well enough to seal such areas and are also easier to install.
For more tips on sealing air leaks, please feel free to contact us at Roberts Heating & Cooling anytime.
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