Air leaks inside the home are common, but in the winter these air leaks can make your home feel very cold, and send your heating bill skyrocketing. One way to conserve energy this winter is to check the weatherstripping and caulking around the doors and windows of your home. You can easily do these projects yourself or hire a handyman to do this for you. Here are some tips for success.
How to check for air leaks
If you put your hand in front of seal of your door and feel cold air rushing in, you might be loosing a significant amount of heat. If you can’t quite feel the air, simply light a match, blow it out and place the smoking match in front of the door seal. Watch how the smoke blows and you can visually see the cold air rushing in. You can do this around your windows as well. You may also be able to see light under the door which is a sure sign that heat is escaping.
Sealing windows with caulking
You may need to replace the caulking on the inside or the outside of the window casement, or possibly both. You should be able to see where there are cracks that need sealing. Some caulking material is clear and some are paintable. Be sure you are buying the right type for either the interior or exterior of your home.
- caulking tube
- caulking gun
- box cutter or utility knife
- putty knife or scraping tool
- scrape off any old caulking, chipped paint or dirt that will inhibit the caulk from sealing properly
- with the box cutter or utility knife, cut the end of the caulking tube at a 45′ angle. You’ll want an opening that is large enough for about a 1/4″ side beading to come out. If you aren’t sure about where to make the cut, start near the tip; you can always cut it larger.
- place the caulking tube in the caulking gun. You’ll want to squeeze the caulking material in a smooth and steady line around the perimeter. Once you’ve done this, wet your finger and gently smooth the caulking material.
Replacing weatherstripping around doors
The flexible material around the door jamb is called weatherstripping and it helps seal the door entrance from air leaks. Weatherstripping can occasionally become damaged over time, from pets or from general wear and tear. The old weatherstripping should be easy to pull out but if you ever need help with this project, try calling in a handyman.
- new weatherstripping material (if you don’t know which type to buy from the hardware store, bring in a small section of your old one so you know the general size and material type)
- scissors or shears
- remove the old weatherstripping material. This should pull out easily.
- take the new weatherstripping and measure the correct length. Use shears to cut it to the appropriate length.
- slip the new weatherstripping material into the gap. Some weatherstripping has an adhesive side to make it stick to the door jamb.
Some windows also have weatherstripping. Feel free to pull out the old and insert a new weatherstripping section to better seal your windows too.
Learn more about sealing off air leaks by checking out the Energy.gov website here http://energy.gov/energysaver/air-sealing-your-home