An energy efficient home is better for both the planet and the pocketbook, but how much better? Is it worth your time and the money you'll spend up-front to weatherize your home? In a word, yes. Even small steps toward creating a more efficiently sealed home can yield impressive saving and increased comfort.
How to Weatherize
Sealing your home with caulk is by far the least expensive, simplest, and most effective methods for weatherizing a home. Sashco Sealants explains how a high quality caulk applied in the right places and in the correct way can help make your home considerably more efficient. Without proper sealing, none of the more labor intensive and expensive measures you take to increase efficiency and comfort will provide the results you desire because the large air flows will still exist. Caulking your home is the single most cost effective step that is readily doable by most homeowners, saving a lot of labor costs, typically incurred with other approaches to energy efficiency.
One of the most important home sealing steps begins outside of your home at the store shelf. It really is important to choose a high-quality caulk to achieve the best results. Most experts agree that the cost of sealing your home will pay for itself within one year of energy savings. Spend a little more up-front for greater savings and a lot less headache in the long run. A high-quality caulk should offer these important characteristics, if it doesn't keep shopping!
- Excellent adhesion. Caulk that quickly fails by pulling away from the surface shortly after you apply it isn't a good use of your time or money.
- Elasticity. The caulk you select needs to be able to move with the sometimes extreme movement a home experiences from heat and cold. If it's not flexible or becomes brittle in the cold it won't be able to handle this movement and will crack or split. Stay away from silicone products or products containing silicone - they do not offer either of these important qualities and make it nearly impossible (without a lot of surface prep) to apply a caulk that will over anywhere silicone has been applied.
- Low Shrinkage. The less a caulk shrinks, the less likely cracks will be completely filled.
- Energy Star tax credit approved. An Energy Star approved, energy-efficient product may be eligible for a federal tax credit.
After you've purchased a high-quality caulk, take a walk around your home to identify areas where air is penetrating. The most critical areas of the home to tightly seal include:
- Door and window frames
- Mail chutes
- Cable TV and phone lines
- Electrical outlets
- Dryer vents
- Cracks or gaps in Bricks, siding, stucco, and foundation
- Air conditioners
- Vents and fans
Other areas to consider include joints between walls and floors, and walls and ceilings, recessed light fixtures, return air vents, plumbing stacks, attic accesses, and any other surface cracks or gaps around the home.
To properly seal these areas it's important to follow proper techniques to ensure the tightest, longest lasting seal.
Before you caulk, watch the weather. If a sealant is applied in extreme heat or cold, the size of the joint being sealed will be at either it's widest (when cold contracts the substrates) or at it narrowest (when heat expands the substrates). Whenever possible apply caulk in the middle of the typical temperature range expected for your area.
Thoroughly clean the area you're caulking to get the best adhesion. Remove any old caulk and/or paint, using a putty knife, caulk removing tool, or even a table knife or screwdriver. A heat gun can also help soften old, hard caulk. Make sure the area is dry so you won't seal in moisture.
Important tip! If you are removing old silicone or are uncertain about what the product your removing was, clean the area with a good silicone remover like those from McKanica®. Remember nothing will stick well to areas with silicone residue left behind!
Hold the gun at a consistent, 45-degree angle. You know you've got the right angle if caulk is immediately forced into the crack as it comes out of the tube. As much as possible caulk in one smooth, continuous stream, avoiding stops and starts. As you finish applying each bead of sealant, relieve the pressure inside the tube by releasing the trigger and pulling back on the rod to stop the flow of caulk. (Releasing the trigger alone will not stop the caulk from flowing out of the nozzle.) Apply only about 2-3 feet of caulk bead at a time so that you will have enough time to get it "tooled" before it begins to "skin" over (which then makes tooling difficult). Don't be skimpy when applying. Use a good thick bead of caulk to completely cover and penetrate the area.
Important tip! If the area you're caulking is 1/4" or wider it is highly recommended that you install foam backer rod in the gap prior to caulking. This is will save you money by eliminating the need to fill the gap with caulk, and will provide a much longer lasting seal. Backer rod is easy to find and is available in most home improvement or hardware stores.
"Tooling" the bead ensures good adhesion and a good look. Tooling is the process of gliding over the entire length of the applied bead of caulk in order to smooth it out and further force the thick caulk into cracks. Tooling can be done with your finger or with various tools (like a spoon, shaped piece of wood or a foam paint brush). It is important to avoid scraping an excessive amount of caulk out of the joint during tooling to avoid stripping the area and creating too thin a caulk line that is more liking to leak and wasting a lot of caulk.
Weatherize Your Home
Learn where to caulk and seal your home to keep out the elements and keep in the comfort.
Caulking is an energy-saving project that is relatively inexpensive-and very effective. In fact, it will usually pay for itself in energy savings within one year.
As a general rule, caulking should be applied wherever two different building materials meet on the interior and exterior of your home. Different building materials will expand and contract at various rates. Because of extreme temperatures, some caulking materials may dry out, crack, and develop holes. When this happens air can infiltrate in these areas and they need to be caulked again.
You can check for air leaks inside your home by moving your hand around the windows and doors on a windy day. If you can feel air movement, you need to caulk. Caulking done on the interior of your home will generally last longer than on the exterior.
The following are a few where you can caulk your home to reduce the amount of heat that escapes during winter, as well as unwanted heat that gets in during the summer.
- Around doors and windows - inside and outside
- Places where brick and wood siding meet
- Joints between the chimney and the siding
- Between the foundation and the walls
- Around mail chutes - inside and outside
- Aroundelectrical and gas service entrances, phone lines
- Around outdoor water faucets and pipes
- Where dryer vents pass through walls - inside and outside
- Cracks in bricks, siding, stucco and foundation
- Around air conditioner - inside and outside
- Around vents and fans - inside and outside
- Wherever two different materials meet
DSIRE - Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency
Following these simple steps and techniques will help you achieve the more energy efficient, cost saving, comfortable home you desire all year long. For more tips and information on all of Sashco's high-performance, Energy Star approved caulking products, visit www.sashco.com or call: 1-800-767-5656.
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Terms & Definitions
Caulking and sealant-related terms.
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