Protect your home from the elements
The drafts from warped doorframes and leaky windows can drive up the cost of heating and cooling your home. Cracks and gaps in the exterior of your home can also lead to drafts in the interior. Properly weatherproofing your home is a smart solution for both your energy bill and for the environment.
Sealing It In
Most of the heat or cooling from your home will escape through the attic and cracks around the exterior. First, make sure you have a properly insulated attic; then use weatherstripping for gaps around doors and windows. To install weatherstripping:
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- Choose the right kind of stripping for your doors and windows. Adhesive-backed V strips, magnetic weather stripping, compression strips or tubular gaskets are each appropriate for different types of doors and windows.
- Clean the door or window and its frame. Dirt and grime can keep adhesive strips from sticking and will reduce the effectiveness of the strips in general.
- Measure around the entire perimeter of the door or window and calculate in a few extra inches to be safe.
- Cut the weather stripping to the appropriate size and attach it to the threshold (the underside) of the window or door first. If you're using adhesive strips, peel off the backing and apply the strip in 1-inch sections. If you peel it off all at once and try to stick the entire strip in one shot, you'll end up with an uneven line. Use small finishing nails or screws if your stripping doesn't have an adhesive layer.
- After applying the stripping to the threshold, use the same method to apply it to the sides and tops of the window or door. If you're using nails to install the stripping, start from the center and work your way out.
After you've weatherproofed the doors and windows of your home, walk around the exterior and check for air leaks there. You'll want to seal exterior gaps with caulking, but be sure to choose the right variety for your home and climate. It's best to seal your home before the cold weather sets in as many types of caulking won't work below freezing. In general, caulking shouldn't be used on breaks that are longer than 3/8 inch or deeper than 1/2 inch.
When you're checking the exterior of your home, you'll most likely find cracks and gaps:
- Around flashing vents and pipes
- Around frames of windows and doors
- Around vents
- In brick, siding and stucco
- Along the joint of the foundation and walls
- Around air conditioners and heating and cooling ducts
- Where two different materials meet, like cement foundation and brick siding or wooden door frames and vinyl siding
Before you apply caulking, make sure the area is clean and that rain isn't forecasted for that day. The caulking will need time to dry before it gets wet.
Weatherproofing your home is a simple and inexpensive way to keep your energy costs down. Most caulking and weather stripping will last for a decade or more before it needs replacing, but plan to check the exterior of your home for gaps in autumn just to be safe.