Caulk Seals Air Leaks: A Do-It-Yourself Project

You can lose a lot of energy money by having air leaks. Caulk, seal, and weather strip any cracks or large openings that face the outside. Sealing the largest holes is the best way to stop air from escaping. You can fill most of these pathways by following our simple instructions. If you are sealing heating or cooling ducts, we recommend contacting a contractor who is familiar with different air sealing techniques.

Most caulking compounds are available in cartridges for half-barrel caulking guns with automatic release. Some cartridges are pressurized and do not need a caulking gun. Consider that you will need four cartridges per foundation sill and a half-cartridge for each window or door. For small jobs, you can find caulking in aerosol cans or squeeze tubes. Ropes are also available for special applications.

Specialty colors and types of caulk are usually more expensive. You can re-caulk with a caulkgun.

Sealing air leaks around windows and doors can save you energy and money. | Courtesy of Flickr user Alyson Hurt.

Before you start

Find out if an energy audit by a professional is for you.

You can also find air leaks by using these energy-saving tips to determine where you have air leaks in your home.

Caulking and weatherstripping are both suitable for your needs.

Shopping List

Caulk to seal windows and doors with (latex- or silicone-based).

A putty knife or a large screwdriver can be used to remove old caulk.

Use a paper towel or a rag to clean up.

Flashing material to cover larger openings.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1) To ensure good adhesion, it is important to clean the area before caulking.

Use a putty blade or large screwdriver to remove any caulk, paint, and other old materials. Be sure to dry the area so that you don’t seal moisture in.

Preparing the caulking gun

Insert the caulk tube into the gun by cutting the caulk cartridge at a 45-degree angle. You can do a test caulk on newspaper or paper towels if you have never used a caulking tool before. This will give you a better idea of how it works.

Hold the caulking tool at a 45-degree angle to the edge to be caulked.

While pulling towards you, hold the gun at an even angle. Slide the tube nozzle down the joint and pull the trigger to apply the caulk. When the caulk immediately forces itself into the crack when it is forced out of the tube, you know that the angle you have chosen is correct. Caulk in a continuous, straight stream to avoid any stops or starts.

“Tool,” or push the caulk into the crack.

After you have covered the area with caulk for 2-3 feet, wet your finger or use a spoon, piece of wood, or foam paintbrush to push the caulk further into the crack.

Wipe up any excess caulk or mistakes with a wet rag.

It is important to address any problems as soon as possible because dried caulk can be difficult to remove later.

Let the caulk dry in accordance with the instructions on the package.

The caulk usually cures in 24 hours, depending on the air temperature and humidity.

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