Courtesy photo Check windows to see if the caulking and weather stripping are applied properly.
The word "caulk" is an old boat building term; "sealant" originated in the homebuilding industry. Today some manufacturers use caulk as an all purpose term and sealant to describe their high performance specialty products. Often, the two terms are used interchangeably. All the products serve the same purpose: to fill the gaps in building materials and to keep water and air from penetrating or leaking out.
Dr. Sonja Koukel
Inspect windows and doors for air leaks. See if you can rattle them, since movement means possible air leaks. If you can see daylight around a door or window frame, then the door or window leaks.
Check to see if the caulking and weather stripping are applied properly, leaving no gaps or cracks, and are in good condition. Check the storm windows to see if they fit and are not broken.
If replacing the old windows is too costly, you can install low-cost plastic sheets over the windows. For drafts entering the home from under the outside door, try using a decorative draft stopper - even a rolled up towel placed at the base of the door will help reduce the amount of heat loss.
Some air leaks are easy to detect, such as the cold air pouring into my house around the door casing. Leaks that are less obvious to detect can be located by conducting a basic building pressurization test:
1. Close all exterior doors, windows, and fireplace flues.
2. Turn off all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters.
3. Turn on all exhaust fans (generally located in the kitchen and bathrooms) or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms.
This test increases infiltration (leakage) of air through cracks and leaks, making them easier to detect. Use a lighted incense stick or your damp hand to locate these leaks. If you use incense sticks, moving air will cause the smoke to waver, and if you use your damp hand, any drafts will feel cool to your hand.
Conducting a home energy audit walk through, I located a couple of windows where cold air was entering. So, on a Sunday afternoon, weather stripping was applied around the front door and the two problem windows.
The weather stripping was inexpensive and easy to apply - cut to length, peel and stick. With these simple measures, I not only increased the comfort level in my home by making it warmer, I may have saved myself some hard earned cash. For publications and information on energy efficiency tips, contact the Cooperative Extension Service.
Dr. Koukel is the Juneau District Agent for the Home Economics Programs of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service.