Weatherstripping & Caulking Your Home

Weatherstripping and caulking may be the easiest ways to increase energy efficiency and reduce heating and cooling costs for your home.

Caulking and weather-stripping prevents air from entering or escaping the home, and also prevents the spread of moisture around pipes, drains, and faucets.

Replacement weather-stripping is usually available at most building supply and hardware stores.

The most popular types of weather stripping include foam rubber, EPDM rubber, felt, bent metal, and plastic.

When selecting weatherstripping, you need to consider the durability of the material as well as what would work best for what you are weather stripping. For example: bent brass and aluminum is found on many older doors and are durable, but they conduct heat easily, don't usually seal that well, and are easily damaged by being bent the wrong way or through poor installation.

Bent metal weather-stripping is also one of the most expensive weather-stripping materials.

Bent plastics are similar to the bent metals, but are less expensive. They are also less durable.

Most rubber and foam materials stay flexible for years, are inexpensive, easily replaced and effectively seal air leaks. Don’t forget to choose the appropriate door sweeps and thresholds for the bottom of the doors as well.

Door Weatherstripping

For the best possible results from your investment, you should make certain that the weather-stripping material will stay flexible under extreme weather conditions. Also be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions.
In general, you should: 1) weatherstrip the entire door jamb; 2) apply one continuous strip along each side; 3) make sure the stripping meets tightly at the corners; and 4) use a thickness that, when the door closes, the stripping tightly presses between the door and the door jamb without making the door too hard to close.

Before you begin the installation of the weather-stripping you need to conduct a visual inspection to locate caulk that is cracked or deteriorated and weather-stripping that has gaps in the seal.

You may also be able to tell if a window or door needs better weather stripping by trying to rattle the door or window, or by looking around the edges to see if any light penetrates through the cracks.

In order to install your weather-stripping you will need to purchase caulk. Caulk comes in cartridges that will be inserted into half barrel caulking guns.

For small caulking jobs, you can find it in small squeeze tubes or ropes. Expect to use about a half-cartridge per window or door and four cartridges for the foundation sill, and at least one more for around faucets, vents, pipes, and electrical outlets.

Window Caulking

Types of caulk generally used on houses include:

  • Oil or resin-based caulk – This is the least expensive caulk, but also the least effective. It is readily available and will bond to most surfaces. It tends to harden and crack after 2 to 4 years.
  • Latex and butyl-based caulk – A little more expensive, but much more durable than oil-based. It lasts from 6 to 20 years and holds up well to building expansion and contraction caused by changes in temperature.

Before applying caulk or weather stripping, the area should be cleaned thoroughly and any old caulk or weather-stripping should be removed.

Directions for application will be on the tube and should be followed carefully. In general, about a half inch of the caulking cartridge nozzle should be cut off at a 45 degree angle and the tip should be punctured.

Once the caulk is applied, you can finish the surface with a moistened finger or something smooth.

Apply caulking to all fixed joints, including:

  • Around windows and doors where frames meet siding
  • Between window sills and siding
  • Between frame wall plates and the foundation
  • Around all holes for pipes, ducts, or electric conduits through outside walls
  • Around all holes through walls, separating heated and unheated spaces, such as attached garages, storerooms, or attics
  • Between unheated porches and the main body of the house
  • Where the chimney or masonry meets the siding
  • Around outside water hose faucets

Weatherstripping is similar to caulking, but is used for areas like the bottom of a window or door where the seal will be formed.

Installing weatherstripping is a simple process. All you will need is the contents of the kit you buy at a home improvement store. Keep in mind that this is being applied to a movable surface so you don't want to purchase a flimsy product that can wear easily.

If the kit you purchase does not include the screws, you should have several types and sizes of screws available as well as a utility knife or something to cut the weather stripping with, and screwdrivers, and possibly a hammer.

Installing Weatherstripping:

  1. First measure the length of all seams to be weather-stripped, add a couple of inches for each seam and add the numbers together.
  2. Next, cut the weather stripping to fit each seam, plus extra. Apply the stripping all the way around a window by using nails, screws or adhesive.
  3. Attach the stripping to the jamb or the stop- the placement varies with the type of weather-stripping you selected.
  4. Then, apply the stripping to the sides and the tops of doors. Use a weather-tight threshold or door sweep to seal the bottom.

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