A Guide to Caulking Windows Properly

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If you’re concerned that your North Carolina or South Carolina home isn’t as energy efficient as it could be, air leaks may be the culprit. Air leaks frequently occur around windows and doors that aren’t tightly sealed. This could be due to an installation issue or to the natural settling of your house over time. You need to understand that air leaks are not abnormal, and many homeowners have to deal with them. 

One of the simplest ways to seal windows is to caulk them. This is a project homeowners opt to handle on their own in many cases. If, however, you would like a Hatch Homes team member to do your caulking project for you, simply call our office. As you read the next several paragraphs, you will learn how to effectively identify window air leaks and caulk your window frames for proper sealing. 

Indications of window air leaks:
    1. Take a look at any caulking and weather stripping that is currently on your windows. If it seems to be crumbling or cracking, it’s a red flag that it isn’t doing its job properly. Replacing it should increase your home’s energy efficiency and your family’s comfort. 
    2. Carefully grab the sides of your windows and give them a gentle shake. If they move at all, it means they aren’t securely installed and are probably allowing unwanted air into your home. 
    3. Walk around outside of your house and look at every window frame. If you notice any areas where there are gaps between the siding and the frame itself, you can assume there is an air leak that needs to be dealt with. 
    4. Try the dollar bill test. To do this, open a window and shut it on a dollar bill. Then, tug on the money to see if you can easily pull it loose. If you can, the window does not have an airtight seal and is likely leaking air. 
Tips for using window caulk: 
    1.  Make sure each window you’re planning to caulk is completely clear of old materials. This means you need to remove any old paint, caulking, or weather stripping. A variety of tools, including screwdrivers and putty knives, can help you scrape even the most stubborn pieces off of your window frames. 
    2. Plan your window caulking project for a day when the humidity is low, and there is no rain in the forecast. This can be somewhat challenging in some areas of the Carolinas, but it’s important to use caulk in temperate, dry weather for the best results!
    3. Learn to use your caulk gun correctly. You should expect to use about half a can of caulk per standard-sized window. Hold the gun at a 45-degree angle and don’t start and stop mid-stream. Instead, caulk continuously until you finish the area of the window you’re working on. This way, there won’t be gaps and breaks in your caulk line. 
Do not caulk the following areas: 
    1. The weep hole – A window’s weep hole is located at the bottom of the frame. It allows moisture to escape. If you accidentally put caulk in the weep hole, you could find yourself with a mold infestation fairly quickly. 
    2. Moveable sections – Don’t put caulk on any parts of a window that are designed to move. This includes hand cranks and sashes on double-hung frames. Caulking these areas could cause your window to stop functioning properly. 
    3. The top of the window frame – The area just above any window frame is known as the drip edge. It helps precipitation drain away from your home’s windows and exterior walls. Caulking the drip edge can lead to a variety of problems, including wood rot and mold growth. 

Hopefully, these tips have helped you understand the importance of using window caulk correctly. If you have any questions, or if you’d like to hire our crew to do this project for you, call the Hatch Homes office at your earliest convenience. 

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Hatch is your partner for exterior remodeling.