The Time to Fix Caulking is Now
Energy prices are on the rise across the nation and everyone wants to keep their home heating bills down this Winter. We still have nice weather for now, so this is the best time to seal in savings on a beautiful day by taking a look at the caulking around doors, windows and other openings. Stopping small leaks will add up to big savings during the cold months, and continued savings during the hot months next year. Stop those leaks now!
Where to Caulk
Over the years, the caulk that builders and painters originally put around joints and openings in the walls (such as doors, windows, outlets, light fixtures, etc.) will crack or degrade. It is often a slow deterioration, and it can happen a little at a time so it isn’t always easy to see. Homeowners should check and repair the caulk every year, and the best time is during the nice weather of Spring or Fall before bad weather hits.
Keeping caulk in good shape saves on utility bills, but also prevents insects or other pests from getting in through tiny cracks. Bats are notorious for getting in to attics or basements through small openings. These images show a few likely locations for caulking. Inside the building, look around windows and doors first, then look around fireplaces, cable TV or phone lines, and anywhere else that the outside wall is penetrated.
On the outside of the building, look at every place where you can see two materials joined together. The smallest crack around light fixtures or electrical outlets can provide the highway that allows insects and cold air to get in to your family. Other places to look include water and gas pipe entry points, and anywhere that trim boards are attached to the siding. If water leaks into any crack and stays there, it will eventually cause rot and deterioration. It is best to prevent it before it starts.
Many types of caulking are available for about $2.00-$5.00 per tube, depending on the quality you want. We recommend getting at least a 20-year, silicone-based product that will stay flexible and can be painted. Using high quality caulk means you won’t find as many cracks in the future and may go for years with no or little need for maintenance. You can buy caulk and a caulking gun (for approximately $5.00) in most home-supply or hardware stores.
How to Caulk
Before applying new caulk, clean the surface by wiping or washing it. If there is cracked or peeling paint or the old caulk isn’t secure, scrape or remove that material. A sharp razor knife is good for removing old caulk before you refill the opening.
To apply the caulk, trim the nozzle of the tube at a 45-degree angle so that a small opening appears. Stick a wire into the opening to pierce the plastic liner, then put the tube in the gun and start to squeeze it until a little bit comes out the end. Squeezing the trigger will force caulk out of the nozzle and into the opening as you move the tip over the crack. Move the gun slowly and evenly to get a professional-looking job.
After you apply the caulk, smooth it over with your finger so it fills the crack. It will be paint ready in a few hours, and protecting you from then on.
If you don’t understand any of this, you can go to a site like You Tube and find many videos that demonstrate exactly how to do it. When you are done, you will be glad you spent a few hours of time and a few dollars to keep your heating bills and insect nuisances down all winter.