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Sealing Air Leaks With Weatherstripping and Caulk Improves Energy Efficiency

  • November 2013
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If your home has heating or cooling bills that are high, you could have a fair amount of air infiltration in the building’s shell. Taking some time for sealing air leaks is one of the most affordable ways you can stop air from entering or leaving your home. Both weatherstripping and caulk are affordable products that are easy to apply and are the most effective ways of blocking air infiltration.

Weatherstripping

  • Silicon, vinyl or rubber. These can be mounted to the door jambs or window sashes. You can use finishing nails or staples to attach them.
  • Foam. Sold in rolls, this is easy to apply as long as the surface is clean and nonporous.
  • Felt. This is another type of weatherstripping that’s easy to apply, but isn’t as durable as other kinds. When selecting it, choose wool felt which tends to last longer.
  • V-strip. Either metal or plastic, a V-strip is one of the more durable weatherstripping products. If the kind you buy doesn’t have adhesive backing, you can mount it with finishing nails.
  • Door sweeps. A door sweep is a strip of metal with soft brushes at the base that won’t harm flooring. The sweep prevents air leaks coming in at the base of the door.

Caulking

  • Latex. Available in both interior and exterior grades, this type of caulk is easy to apply and clean up with water. It dries hard and tends to shrink over time. UV rays from the sun can degrade latex caulk, although painting it will slow the process. You may need to remove the old caulk periodically and redo the process when sealing air leaks around window or door frames with latex products.
  • Silicon. This caulk resists shrinkage and is often used to seal areas around metal pipes or flues, since it’s also heat resistant. It costs more than latex caulk, and needs to be cleaned with either mineral spirits or naphtha.
  • Expanding. Expanding foam comes in pressurized cans and is useful for sealing larger cracks. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when applying it, since it’s sticky. It may also need to be painted to avoid damage from UV rays outside. It’s also highly flammable, so care needs to be taken when using it inside.

When you apply caulk, you’ll likely need to practice with a caulking gun a little the first time you use it. It takes some experience to apply it evenly when sealing air leaks, although when it’s wet, it’s easy to smooth out. Hold the caulking gun at a 45 degree angle for the best results, with the tip of the caulk tube inserted into the crack as far as it will go. Apply caulk in a continuous line to avoid gaps.

Why Seal Air Leaks

Air infiltration can raise your energy bills because air is continually moving in and out of your home. Additionally, these conditions increase the propensity of air to come indoors:

  • Winds. Windy weather can force air into your home, especially around window and door frames and around windows that aren’t locked or don’t fit inside the frames snugly.
  • Sealed-off rooms. Many people think that shutting a register and closing a door is a good way to cut energy usage for rooms they seldom use. However, if the return register is left open, the force of the air leaving the room can depressurize it, forcing air into it through cracks in the envelope, and window or exterior door frames.
  • Leaks in attic ductwork. Whenever a forced-air system turns on, the blower motor pushes air through the ductwork. The force of the air can pull air from any leaks in the attic, along with picking up any dust that’s dislodged in the process. It’s a serious situation if you have vented gas appliances or an attached garage because carbon monoxide can enter the ducts.

Sealing air leaks in ductwork is something you can do if they’re easy to reach. If you can access them, never use duct tape, since its adhesive dries out quickly. Metal tape or mastic is available at home centers for a permanent seal.

For more information about sealing air leaks in the Griffith, Munster, Highland, St. John, Schererville, or Gary area, contact Meyer’s today.