December 13th, 2010 3:00 PM by Dave Gubler
Yes it's kind of funny to realize sometimes the simplest things in life can save you so much money. So caulk your windows and caulk all other places in the house where cold air comes in and hot air goes out.
Caulk forms a flexible seal for cracks, gaps, or joints less than 1-quarter-inch wide. You can use a caulking compound to seal air leaks in a variety of places throughout your home, including around windows and door frames.
In addition to sealing air leaks, caulking can also prevent water damage inside and outside of the home when applied around faucets, ceiling fixtures, water pipes, drains, bathtubs and other plumbing fixtures.
SelectionMost caulking compounds come in disposable cartridges that fit in half-barrel caulking guns (if possible, purchase one with an automatic release). Some pressurized cartridges do not require caulking guns. When deciding how much caulking to purchase, consider that you'll probably need a half-cartridge per window or door and four cartridges for the foundation sill. Caulking compounds can also be found in aerosol cans, squeeze tubes, and ropes for small jobs or special applications.
Caulking compounds vary in strength, properties, and prices. Water-based caulk can be cleaned with water, while solvent-based compounds require a solvent for cleanup. See Table 1 below for information about the types of common caulking compounds.
Although not a high-tech operation, caulking can be tricky. Read and follow the instructions on the compound cartridge. Save yourself some trouble by remembering a few important tips:
For good adhesion, clean all areas to be caulked. Remove any old caulk and paint, using a putty knife or a large screwdriver. Make sure the area is dry so you won't seal in moisture.
Apply caulk to all joints in a window frame and the joint between the frame and the wall.
Hold the gun at a consistent angle. Forty-five degrees is best for getting deep into the crack. You know you've got the right angle when the caulk is immediately forced into the crack as it comes out of the tube.
Caulk in one straight continuous stream, if possible. Avoid stops and starts.
Send caulk to the bottom of an opening to avoid bubbles.
Make sure the caulk sticks to both sides of a crack or seam.
Release the trigger before pulling the gun away to avoid applying too much caulking compound. A caulking gun with an automatic release makes this so much easier.
If caulk oozes out of a crack, use a putty knife to push it back in.
Don't skimp. If the caulk shrinks, reapply it to form a smooth bead that will seal the crack completely.
Before applying new caulk, remove old caulk or paint residue remaining around a window using a putty knife, stiff brush, or special solvent. After old caulk is removed, new caulk can then be applied to all joints in the window frame and the joint between the frame and the wall. The best time to apply caulk is during dry weather when the outdoor temperature is above 45°F (7.2°C). Low humidity is important during application to prevent cracks from swelling with moisture. Warm temperatures are also necessary so the caulk will set properly and adhere to the surface.