Caulk and Weatherstripping are Your Friends!
Plugging small leaks can add up to big savings.
Small gaps and cracks around your windows and doors and in your basement and attic can let the air you’re heating or cooling escape, and can let in moldy and dusty air, and even vermin! If you can feel drafts, you really have a problem, but even if you don’t, almost every home, new or old, can benefit from additional caulking and weatherstripping. Nearly half your energy cost is for heating or cooling your home. So it’s not just air that’s leaking out — it’s money!
While a do-it-yourself sealing project can help remedy many drafty situations there is no replacement for the effectiveness of an air sealing professional. Working with an auditor these professionals can identify and seal hard-to-locate leaks and test the home to ensure energy efficiency and that a healthy level of air exchange is maintained.
U.S. Department of Energy resources:
- How to find air leaks in your home.
- How to seal air leaks with caulk.
- How to weatherstrip double-hung windows.
- Guide to caulk types and uses.
- Guide to weatherstripping types and uses.
- Guide to spray foams for sealing larger gaps and cracks.
How-to Video: Caulking around your windows:
How-to Video: Weatherstripping your doors:
A home energy audit is where a professional performs an assessment of your home to determine where you could be wasting energy, heating or cooling. This includes finding places where caulking and weatherstripping could save you big bucks.
The 3 Montgomery County utilities offer 75% off the cost of a home energy audit. With the discounts, the audit will be around $100.
- BGE Home Performance with ENERGY STAR
- Pepco Home Performance with ENERGY STAR
- Potomac Edison Home Performance with ENERGY STAR
Maryland Weatherization Services – The Weatherization Assistance Program, operated by the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Housing and Building Energy Programs section, helps eligible low income households across the State of Maryland with the installation of energy conservation materials in their dwelling units.
Montgomery County Weatherization Program – Caulking, weatherstripping and other home insulation services for income-qualified residents.
How do I know whether to use caulk or weatherstripping?
Caulk is best for sealing cracks less than ¼-inch wide, or cracks that might let water in, typically on the outside frame of windows and doors, and for other structural gaps.
Weatherstripping is best for sealing around anything that moves — the doors and windows themselves (as opposed to the outer frames, which you caulk). There are several types of weatherstripping that adhere to doors or windows that still allow for a tight seal and operation of the door or window.
I have a crack in my basement wall over an inch wide. What are my options?
Spray foam is a great way to seal larger holes — it acts more like a permanent insulation. Several types of spray foams are available depending on the job. One non-toxic and easy to use variety is cementitious spray foam.
I have a gap near my chimney or furnace exhaust, what should I use?
Care must be taken around chimneys and furnace exhausts as products such as spray foam and caulking may be flammable. In these situations you can use flashing or may choose to consult an air sealing professional.