July 2005
Protect Your Home Against Leaks

Outside air may be lurking into your home. The culprit-your home's windows.

Windows can add 25 to 50 percent energy to your home's total usage, especially in older homes. How? Leaks in the window frames allow outside air to enter.

Cool air enters through leaks in the wintertime and warm air during the summer. This causes a higher demand for your heating and cooling unit to maintain a comfortable room temperature. The extra work on your unit requires more energy and adds to your monthly energy bill.

Plus, leaks allow moisture inside your home, potentially damaging furniture, walls and may constrain the air quality. The solution is simple. Properly seal your windows.

First, check the caulking around the window frames. Caulking is a flexible paste used to seal cracks or joints. If frames are brittle or loose, replacement is necessary.

Also inspect the weatherstripping along the moveable joints of the window frame. Weatherstripping seals the window's joints from leaks. It comes in vinyl, metal or foam. Weatherstripping should be replaced if worn, pulled away from the joints or the window does not close securely.

Here are steps to re-sealing your window for future leak protection:

1. Clean around the frame to remove dust and dirt. This helps caulk to stick. Remove old caulking around the window using a putty knife and make sure the area around the frame is dry.
2. Using a caulking gun, apply the caulk into the crack between the wall and the window frame. Apply caulk in one continuous line holding the gun at a 45-degree angle. Caulking should touch both sides of the seam. (See photo at right.)

1. Clean all dust and dirt off the window's joints. Joints should also be dry.
2. Measure the area to be weatherstripped.
3. Cut the proper size of weatherstripping.
4. Place weatherstripping against top and bottom of the window sash. It should be loose enough to easily open and close the window, but tight enough to prevent air from passing.

The cost for sealing windows is minimal compared to its importance. Caulk and weatherstripping can be purchased at any home improvement store.

When purchasing, consider durability and flexibility of both products, not just prices. The most expensive products are not always the best. Consider products' durability for certain weather conditions and ask a store representative for advice on recommended brands.

Leaks occur in areas other than your windows. Doors are an example. Similar steps for caulking and weatherstripping around door frames can be applied. Go to www.doityourself.com/energy for more tips on caulking and weatherstripping.

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