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PAGE 6 FEBRUARY 2012 LET’S SAVE ENERGY TOGETHER


Use caulk to block costly air leaks A few handy tips will help you apply it like a pro


BY JOHN DRAKE 


cooling losses in your home. While insulation is a tremendous help, it’s money wasted if you don’t tighten up your home first.


I


Fortunately, you can seal a lot of leaks around your home’s exterior with less than $100 worth of caulk. At that price you can generally seal openings up to one-quarter inch between window frames and siding, or around door frames. For larger gaps, add a backing material before caulking, or use a spray foam sealant instead.


f you’ve ever felt a chill up your pant leg as you relax in your living room, it should come as no surprise that air leaks can cause significant heating and


Most types of outdoor caulk are sold in tubes that fit a caulking gun. But some caulks come in aerosol cans and are a good choice for filling gaps up to one-half inch around pipes and wires.


There are a lot of choices when it comes to buying caulking. Prices range from a couple of dollars to several dollars per tube, so be sure to read the labels and choose one that will adhere to the materials you’re sealing.


If your budget allows, spend a little more for a higher-quality caulk. Inexpensive caulks may last only a few years, while premium-priced caulks are rated for 20 years or more. Keep the following tips in mind, and you’ll apply caulk like a pro.


Expert caulking tips


 As a rule of thumb, you’ll probably use half a cartridge per window or door and up to six cartridges for foundation work.


 Some high-performance caulking


compounds contain irritating ingredients, so carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions and take the appropriate precautions.


 The best time to caulk is during dry


weather when outdoor temperatures are above 45°F. Low humidity is important to prevent cracks from swelling.


 If the gap you’re sealing is too wide,


use a special filler. You’ll find them at your local hardware store or home center. Remember, fillers aren’t designed for exposure to the elements so you’ll need to caulk or seal over it.





Before applying new caulk, remove the old caulk or paint residue with a putty knife, stiff brush, or special solvent, and make sure your work area is dry, so you won’t seal in moisture.


 


a d


 s s c t


Hold the caulking gun


at a consistent angle; 45 degrees is best.


 Caulk in a straight, stream, avoiding stops and starts, and make sure the caulk sticks to both sides of the crack or seam.


  b


 t


 Send caulk to the


bottom of an opening to avoid bubbles.


Release the trigger on


the caulking gun before p


pulling it away from the c


e 


 c


crack to prevent applying too much caulk. (A caulking g


gun with an automatic release makes this much easier).


Don’t skimp. If the


caulk shrinks, reapply it to fo form a smooth bead that completely seals the crack. If If it oozes out of a crack, use a


a putty knife to push it back in


in. Cont’d next page 


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