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Drafty windows?

The Old House Web

drafty window Problem:I added the recommended insulation to my attic and floors, but my house is stilldrafty and cold.

Solution: Unfilled gaps and cracks in the foundation,around windows and doors, vents, and so on, may let cold air in the same as leaving a window open.

In fact, a 1/8 inch opening around just two doorframes can let in as much cold air as a 12 inch windowopened 6 inches all winter long.

Caulk is used around outside window and door frames,and to fill outside wall and foundation cracks.

The money you spend on caulking or weather-strippingis usually recovered in one heating season or less. This one season "pay-back" period means that money forheating fuel is saved equal to or greater than what youspend for caulking and weather stripping materials.

Here's how to do it:
  • A clean joint is the first and most important step.Clean away all old caulk and loose paint or dirt and apply new caulk to dry surfaces. The most common andeasiest to use caulking comes in cartridges for which youwill need a caulking gun. A good rough estimate is thatyou will need 1/2 cartridge per window or door, 4 for thefoundation sill, and at least 1 more for around faucets,vents, pipes, electrical outlets and so on. 

  • Cut off about 1/2 inch of the cartridge tip on a 45degree angle and puncture the tip seal with a nail. Youcan use the nail later to act as a stopper for any unusedcaulk. With a little practice on a joint that's notvisible you'll soon be able to lay a uniform wide beadthat overlaps both sides for a good seal. Finish thesurface with a moistened finger if you like but that'snot necessary. Remember to use a filler, like oakum, forwide joints before you caulk. 

  • Some but not all the places you should look whensurveying you home before caulking are around doors andwindows, dryer vents, faucet pipes and wires, whereporches attach to the house, seams between masonry andsiding, chimneys and inside corners. 

This article was written by Anne Field, ExtensionSpecialist, Emeritus, with references from MichiganExtension bulletin Caulking and Weatherstripping.

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