Air Sealing, Keeping The Heat In This Winter

Air Sealing, Keeping The Heating In This WinterWhen that cold north Texas weather starts creeping inside the house, it does more than send you diving into the sweater drawer. It forces your home heating system to work overtime, and that leads to unexpected repair bills and higher energy costs. You know how quickly a blue norther can hit the Dallas/Fort Worth area, so get a jump on indoor chills with a little DIY sealing work inside and out.

Air Sealing Walls, Windows and Doors

Before you head off to the local hardware store for weatherstripping and caulk, put on your home inspector hat, and take a good look outside and inside the house. Exterior wall cracks and holes develop in the best materials, and existing seals deteriorate over time. Check weatherstripping around windows and doors by closing them on a dollar bill. If your cash slides out and hits the floor, imagine all the warm air that’s sneaking out of your home. Don’t forget baseboards along walls that stand between you and the great outdoors. If you make a list of areas that need attention, it’s easier to decide on the types and amount of sealant you’ll need.

All Around the House

Air leaks around windows and doors are obvious entryways for cold air, but winter weather settles inside walls, seeps into the attic and slides under the garage door. Electrical outlets and switches are perfect portals for cold air moving through the house. Put that ceiling attic door, the kitchen range hood and fireplace chimney on your checklist too. When was the last time you paid attention to the garage door’s sweep? While most homeowners do a great job checking for air leaks with their bare hands, you might try a lit candle or a burning incense stick, but be careful with both techniques. You can also purchase smoke pens designed especially for the job.

Working With Weatherstripping

Compared to the cost of installing insulated windows and doors, taking a weekend off to seal up the house is time and money well-spent. Quality materials stand up longer around doors and windows that open and close with the seasons, and they’re easier to handle. Tubular weatherstripping includes rubber, vinyl and silicone, and they’re all effective air barriers. V strippping forms a tension seal that fills in gaps, but it’s a little trickier to work with. If you’re sealing irregular cracks, sticky-backed foam tape is a great choice. Felt weatherstripping is the least expensive material, but you’ll have to replace it every couple of years.

Know Your Caulk

Before you load that gun, make sure you’re lining up the right caulk for the job. Ease of use doesn’t matter if the seal cracks after one season. The most durable exterior version of this sealant is 100 percent silicone, but it’s not for every DIY warrior. The caulk sets quickly, you’ll need mineral spirits for cleanup, and it can’t be painted. Polyurethane is just as tough and easily painted, but you still have to deal with fast setup time and mineral spirits. Most homeowners choose siliconized acrylic caulk because it’s long-lasting and easy to work with. If you’re tempted by inexpensive latex, be aware that it hardens in freezing temperatures, and that makes it prone to cracking.

Once you’ve got the house sealed up, put away the sweaters, and ignore that cold wind blowing outside. Your hard work will continue to pay off when summer temperatures soar, so congratulations on a handyman job well done. If you’d like more energy-saving ideas or run into any air conditioning repair problems that needs professional attention, give us a call here at Max Mechanical at 817-459-4100 or 972-233-1637. We enjoy sharing our HVAC expertise all year round.

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