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Sealing Your Home Windows

Properly sealing your home windows is an important part of keeping your home safe and energy efficient. Maintaining tight seals around all exterior windows will reduce drafts that can enter the home, which in turn reduces the amount of energy you will need to heat the house. In addition, properly sealed windows restrict water from infiltrating the walls and causing all sorts of expensive damage. Here are the two steps to take to ensure that your windows are properly sealed.

Weather Stripping
Weatherstripping is the most common and effective tool to use when sealing a new or existing window. This kind of sealant comes in a variety of materials, including vinyl, rubber, and foam. All three of these materials work well as a seal for exterior windows, however, vinyl or rubber are often preferred for their durability.
If you are replacing the weather stripping on an existing window, begin by removing the old seal. Depending on the material that was used, you may need pliers and a pry bar to remove both the weather stripping and any nails or staples that were used to tack it down. Once the old stripping has been removed, use a rag dipped in mineral spirits to dissolve any of the remaining adhesives from the outside of the window. Then thoroughly clean the area with soap and water. Wait for the window to fully dry before applying the new weather stripping.

Whether you are re-sealing an existing window or sealing up a new one, the application process of weather stripping is the same. When choosing a material to use, be sure that the width of the stripping will create a tight fit in the gap between the window and the frame of the house. When measuring the gaps you intend to fill, a good rule of thumb is to measure twice and cut once. This will cut down on material waste. Cut the appropriate length of stripping, and press it adhesive-side first into the gap. Then secure with nails or staples every 3 to 4 inches. Continue this process around the perimeter of the window.

Caulk is another form of window sealant, intended to fill small gaps or awkward areas that weather stripping cannot fit. Caulk also comes in a variety of materials, including polyurethane, silicone, and latex. Polyurethane and latex caulk are easier to work with, but silicone caulking has a far longer lifespan when applied to exterior surfaces.
If you are applying a new caulk seal to an existing window, then you need to start by removing the old layer of caulk. This can be done with a utility knife or a putty knife. Simply scrape off the old layer of caulk from the window. If a section is particularly difficult, heating it up with a heat gun may make it flexible enough to remove. Once the old caulk is gone, thoroughly clean the outer surface of the window and wait for it to dry.

When applying new caulking to a window, begin by preparing your caulk cartridge. Determine how much of the nozzle to cut off depending on the bead size suitable for the job. Most cartridges come with markings on the nozzle to assist with this. Then cut the tip off the nozzle at a 45-degree angle to make for easy spreading, and put the cartridge in a caulk gun. Keeping an even pressure on the trigger, begin spreading caulk at the seams of the window in lines no more than 2-3 feet long. Each time you lay a line of caulk, smooth out the bead with your finger or a similarly shaped tool. This will achieve a neater look and a tighter seal. Continue this process around the entire window casing. Once you are finished, the caulk will need at least 24 hours to fully dry. During this process, be careful not to disturb the caulk. You may also need to protect it from potential rain by putting up a tarp. When the caulk is fully dried, your window should be fully sealed and protected from the elements!