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Weather-stripping and Caulking



Even a well-insulated home can lose as much as 30 percent of its heat through small cracks around door and window jambs, thresholds, and frames. Weather-stripping and caulking will prevent this waste of your insulation dollars and make your home more comfortable.

NOTE: For more information on "house tightening" and indoor air pollutants refer to BPA's booklet titled "Home Weatherization & Indoor Air Pollutants." To obtain copies of these write:

Publications Supply
Bonneville Power Administration
PO. Box 3621
Portland, OR 97208

Weather-Stripping Windows
Window weather-stripping is available either in kits designed for the size and type of window or by the running foot. If you buy it by the foot, measure the distance around the moving parts of the window to find out how much you'll need. Add a little extra for waste.

To Weather-Strip Your Windows, You'll Need:

Weather-Stripping Materials:
  • Enough thin spring metal, rolled vinyl, or vinyl bulb weather-stripping with metal backing or polypropylene replacement pile (Fig. 7.1) to be applied to all the moving parts of your windows. Window weather-stripping should have an expected life of at least 6 years.
    Figure 7.1


Tools and Equipment:
  • Hammer and small nails; or staple gun and staples; or screwdriver and screws
  • Screwdriver and/or coarse-grained sandpaper for cleaning window "channels"
  • Tin snips or scissors
  • Tape measure


Weather-stripping should he applied to all moving (operable) parts of door, or windows: jambs, sash, etc. Fig. 7.2 shows where to weather-strip for common window types.

Figure 7.2
Before installing weather-stripping, check to make sure the sash or moving parts of the window aren't so deteriorated that they won't hold the nails used to install it.

All surfaces should be clean and dry. With scissors, cut a length of weather-stripping to fit the jamb.

Thin spring metal usually comes with brad nails and is pre-punched for nailing. Open the window and slide the weather-stripping into place between the sash and window jamb or along sash rails where shown in Fig. 7.2. As much as possible, install the weather-stripping in one continuous strip. Fit tightly together at corners. If the strips don't slide in easily, clean and sand the channels with a screwdriver and sandpaper until they do. Nail the strips into place. For double hung windows, fit the spring metal around the pulleys, as shown in Fig. 7.4. Do not cover the pulleys.

Figure 7.4
Rolled vinyl is nailed to the outside of the window at the places shown in Fig. 7.2. Nail the aluminum backing to the jamb and sash. Fit successive strips tightly together at corners. With some "bulb"-type weather-stripping, you may cut a "V" notch in the aluminum backing, enabling you to make a bend at the corner using a continuous strip of material.

The vinyl should compress lightly against the sash. If it fits too tightly, the weather-stripping will wear out quickly.

Rolled vinyl weather-stripping is visible when installed. You may paint over the gasket, but don't paint the vinyl. Paint will harden the vinyl and reduce its effectiveness against infiltration.

Weather-Stripping Doors
To weather-strip doors, you will need some extra tools and materials in addition to those listed for windows:
  • Enough interlocking metal weather-stripping (Fig. 7.5), rolled vinyl weather-stripping with prepunched aluminum backing (Fig. 7.6), or 2-piece magnetic "bellows"-type weather-stripping (Fig. 7.7) to cover door top and sides.
    Figure 7.5 Figure 7.6
    Figure 7.7
  • For the door bottom, use either a door shoe with a vinyl or neoprene gasket insert (Fig. 7.8), or an automatic door bottom closure-type weather-stripping. If you use an automatic door bottom closure for the front door, use the concealed type, which has a neoprene sealer and a small metal strike plate that fastens to the jamb at the point of contact. On doors which are used less frequently, install surface-mounted automatic door closures with a vinyl sealer and metal strike plate.
    Figure 7.8
  • If the door threshold is so worn as to make weather-stripping ineffective, the threshold can be replaced. Purchase an aluminum or wood threshold with a vinyl or rubber gasket which serves as weather-stripping (Fig. 7.9).
    Figure 7.9


Tools and Equipment

In addition to the tools listed for window weather-stripping, you will need:
  • A circular power saw, if you must cut the door bottom to allow clearance to fit the weather-stripping
  • Metal screws for installing thresholds


Install rolled vinyl weather-stripping by nailing the aluminum gasket to the door top and sides every 2 inches. (Nails are usually included with the weather-stripping.) Measure it precisely and cut on a slant so that the weather-stripping fits tightly together at the door corners and against the threshold.

Other types of door jamb weather-stripping are the spring bronze cushion type, magnetic "bellows," and the interlocking metal weather-strip. None require special skills or tools, but precise cutting and alignment are crucial, particularly for the interlocking channels. Follow the manufacturer's instructions included with the product.

Door bottoms, because they take so much use, require sturdier weather-stripping. Door bottom weather-stripping is either installed in the threshold or recessed into the door bottom.

The threshold itself is easy to install using screws. However, you must remove the door, and carefully measure and cut it to fit the new threshold. Bevel it 1/8 inch (Fig. 7.9) for an effective seal between the vinyl gasket weather-stripping and the door bottom.

Door shoes (Fig. 7.8) are made to install with the door on its hinges, but it may be necessary to remove the door and trim it if clearance is inadequate. The door shoe is then attached to the door bottom with screws. Manufacturer's instructions are easy to follow. Automatic door bottom closures can be difficult to install. Follow manufacturer's instructions.

Caulking
To Apply Caulking, You'll Need:

Caulking Materials
  • Silicone rubber, polyurethane, polysulfide, or acrylic terpolymer, or acrylic latex compound. Butyl rubber caulking compound should be used on metal and masonry joints. Caulking is sold in cartridges. If you are caulking an entire house, buy 5 or 6 11-oz. cartridges to start, and purchase more if you need them.
  • A filler such as oakum, caulking cotton, glass fiber strips, or sponge rubber to fill the extra-wide cracks.


Tools and Equipment:
  • Ladder
  • Caulking gun, available on a rental basis
  • Putty knife or large screwdriver
  • Cleaning solvent


Caulking should be applied wherever two materials in the house meet. Caulk on both sides of the trim around window and door frames.

First, clean the area of paint buildup, dirt, or deteriorated caulk. Use solvent and a putty knife or large screwdriver.

Fill large cracks of 3/8 inch or more (such as those where the house meets the foundation) with filler strips (Fig. 7.10). Caulk over the filling strips to ensure a tight seal.

Figure 7.10
Hold the caulking gun at a 45-degree angle. Draw a good bead of caulk to start, making sure it overlaps both sides (Fig. 7.11). As you move the gun across the surface, pump the trigger to keep the caulk flowing evenly.

Figure 7.11

Next: Storm Windows and Sliding or Insulated Doors


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