Fall Is the Time to Caulk

— Written By and last updated by Jessica Griffin

The changing weather of Fall may make air leaks in your home more obvious. Improve the energy efficiency of your home by plugging up the leaks with caulk. Caulk forms a flexible seal for small cracks, gaps, or openings in joints. You can use a caulking compound to seal air leaks in a variety of places throughout your home, including around windows and doorframes.

In addition to sealing air leaks, caulking can also prevent water damage inside and outside of the home when applied around faucets, ceiling fixtures, water pipes, drains, bathtubs and other plumbing fixtures.

Most caulking compounds come in disposable cartridges that fit in caulking guns. Some pressurized cartridges do not require caulking guns. When deciding how much caulking to purchase, consider that you’ll probably need a half-cartridge per window or door. Caulking compounds can also be found in aerosol cans, squeeze tubes, and ropes for small jobs or special applications.

Caulking compounds vary in strength, properties, and prices. There are three types of caulking that cost $5 to $8 a cartridge- silicon, which is the most durable, latex with silicon, which is the most economical, and vinyl. Caulking guns run from $3 to $10. The best guns are the drip-free models that have an automatic release feature.

Although not a high-tech operation, caulking can be tricky. Save yourself some trouble by remembering a few important tips:

  • Clean all areas to be caulked. Remove any old caulk and paint, using a putty knife or a large screwdriver. Make sure the area is dry so you won’t seal in moisture.
  • Apply caulk to all joints in a window frame and the joint between the frame and the wall.
  • Hold the gun at a consistent angle. Forty-five degrees is best for getting deep into the crack. You know you’ve got the right angle when the caulk is immediately forced into the crack as it comes out of the tube.
  • Caulk in one straight continuous stream, if possible. Avoid stops and starts.
  • Make sure the caulk sticks to both sides of a crack or seam.
  • Release the trigger before pulling the gun away to avoid applying too much caulking compound. A caulking gun with an automatic release makes this much easier.
  • *f caulk oozes out of a crack, use a putty knife to push it back in.
  • Don’t skimp. If the caulk shrinks, reapply it to form a smooth bead that will seal the crack completely.

The best time to apply caulk is during dry weather when the outdoor temperature is above 45°F (7.2°C). Low humidity is important during application to prevent cracks from swelling with moisture. Warm temperatures are also necessary so the caulk will set properly and adhere to the surface.

Source: US Department of Energy