If you haven’t sealed any leaks around your windows or elsewhere, it’s a safe bet that some of that outdoor air is sneaking into your home — and running up your energy bill. This is why learning how to caulk couldn’t be more important.
Summer heat and humidity will seep in through these openings and force your air conditioner to work overtime. Cold air will force your heating system to turn on more often.
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to air seal your home with caulk and weatherstripping.
Here are three simple steps to caulking out cold and heat to increase indoor comfort and reduce energy use and costs.
Step 1: Find the Leaks
Before you draw your caulk gun, you must determine where the leaks are. Conduct a search for drafts, even for light glinting through holes.
Doors and windows are likely culprits for leaks, but also investigate the basement and attic. You might even consider hiring a professional to conduct a thorough energy assessment of your home.
Step 2: Select Your Caulk — or Sealant
Although many people use the terms “caulk” and “sealant” interchangeably, some caulk and sealant manufacturers differentiate between these two types of products.
They market caulk as general-purpose and sealants as higher-performers. According to Franklin International, maker of renowned Titebond wood glues — as well as a full line of adhesives and sealants for building and remodeling homes — sealants typically are designed to stretch more to bridge various materials that shrink and swell at different rates.
One new sealant technology stands out above the others for application ease and performance: Titebond WeatherMaster Sealant.
WeatherMaster adheres to most building materials, won’t shrink, fills up to 1-inch gaps and is permanently flexible. It comes in more than 200 colors to match existing siding. But no problem if it doesn’t match yours; you can paint all WeatherMaster colors (except translucent) in an hour.
WeatherMaster Sealant is available through Amazon and The Home Depot (special-order process only), among other outlets serving contractors and facilities maintenance professionals.
Step 3: Apply the Caulk
If the opening you are sealing is at least one-quarter inch wide and one-half inch deep, fill it with a spray foam material before caulking. Then, make sure the area to be caulked is dry and clean of debris, including old caulk and excess foam.
For a clean line, border the opening with masking tape before caulking. Hold the caulk gun at a 45-degree angle to the opening you are filling.
Try to fill each crack or gap with a continuous bead, without stopping and starting. You don’t have to reach too far into the toolbox for the best implement to smooth out the bead — your index fingertip is ideal.
If you used masking tape, wait for the caulk to develop a “skin” while still wet. That could take a few hours; monitor the project area in the meantime to pull off the tape at the right time.
You can also use your fingertips to find out much more about air sealing your home at EnergySavers.gov, the U.S. Department of Energy’s site on energy management.