As winter’s cold weather gets ever closer, can high heating bills be far away? Well, now’s the time to insulate yourself from that recurring expense – by better insulating your home!
Applying caulk and insulation to your home exterior can provide a formidable defense against the cold. Even sealing the most obvious cracks and openings can make your home more energy-efficient. . .and more comfortable, too.
Caulk and insulation add comfort to a home in two ways: first, they keep outside air from seeping into the living space; second, they prevent costly heat (and in the summer, air-conditioning) from escaping.
If you’re in the mood to fight rising energy costs, begin the battle with a walk-around inspection of your home exterior.
Take note of any cracks, gaps, or holes you see – especially where different surfaces meet, or where pipes or vents penetrate the walls. Also inspect your old caulk: Is it cracked, or separated from the surrounding surface? These areas are energy sieves
. . . and prime spots to caulk or insulate.
Should you find old caulk that is damaged or deficient, remove every last bit of it with a scraper or putty knife. Clean the adjacent surfaces, then sand them smooth, and prime any areas where bare wood shows. This will help ensure that the new caulk adheres properly and creates a weather-tight seal.
When purchasing replacement caulk, make sure to choose a top quality product. The best choices are water-based all-acrylic, or siliconized acrylic caulk (similarly named “silicone” caulks can’t be painted).
Be systematic when applying the new caulk. Work your way around the exterior of your home, completing each wall or surface area before moving on to the next. Fill every gap or seam you see with a generous bead of caulk (remember, this is your defense against the cold, so you don’t want to skimp).
As soon as you apply the bead of caulk, run a wet finger over the full length of the bead, using a slight amount of pressure. By “tooling” the caulk in this way, you’ll ensure that the caulk adheres to the surrounding surface and tightly seals the space.
If some gaps are too large to caulk – typically, those that are more than ¼” wide – fill them instead with a polyurethane foam insulation product. Unlike caulk, which has a tendency to shrink slightly as it dries, some polyurethane foam products actually expand after being applied, making them ideal for filling large openings and cavities.
After working your way around your home and filling every gap and opening, take a short break. Then, walk around your home one last time to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Don’t be surprised if you spot a few areas that still need attention. Put the final touches on your work; then put your tools away.
When those cold winter days arrive, it will warm your heart knowing that you invested the time and energy to weatherproof your home. And as those winter bills arrive, you’ll begin to enjoy the dividends!