Caulking Matters

I overdid my work in the attic.  The stooping and such was just a bit too much for comfort, and it dissuades me from going into the short attic above the living spaces, for now.  But there is still more to be done inside.

I finally got around to addressing the caulking at the windows and back door in the family room.  Amazing how less drafty it feels already, and I’m not done in the room.  I found where the ladybugs were getting in, and shooed them away before caulking that up.  And I discovered the tiniest cracks alongside the fireplace facade where the wind was coming in.  Wow!  A little clear caulk, a little time, and such a difference.

After my work this summer, the 15-year-old caulk gun became nearly unusable, the handle covered with various types of sticky stuff.  We got a fancy replacement one (Husker red), with a built-in seal-breaking pin, and a faster pressure stop.  It works very nicely.  Right tool for the right job.

So, caulk gun in one hand and vacuum in the other, I first brush-vac-ed the moldings at the baseboard and around the door and windows.  Then I carefully, oh so lightly yet completely, applied the caulk in the cracks: around the molding at the wall, around the molding at the inside trim, around the trim where it meets the door and windows.  Nice and snug seals, white drying to clear.

Alas, this was not the same caulk I’ve used in the rest of the house.  It has not dried in some places, 24 hours later.  It is cloudy still, and it has shrunk away from the trim in several spots.  I may have to wait till it cures, then pull it off and recaulk.  Not only will I have to redo the work, I will have to undo it before I can redo.  Lesson learned.

Yes, folks — product makes a huge difference, and you should not buy what is in one store because it “will do.”  Make the extra trip to the store that carries the right product for your project!

The good thing is that I can feel already the difference air leak control is making in this part of the house.  I felt it immediately when I did the big problem bedroom: an 8 degree drop in 20 minutes in late May!  I felt it in the basement: it’s very comfortable and not clammy down there now.  And I feel it in the family room, even though it’s far from complete.

OPPD announced yesterday that their rates are going up four percent this year.  I suspect our usage is going to drop more than four percent, so we’ll still save.  We heat with gas, so if MUD increases its rates, too, I suspect our drop in gas usage will also offset that.

I have to tell you again that having the energy audit through OPPD was the best home-related expense we’ve made in a long time.  Not only did it open our eyes to what could be done with our home specifically to combat air leaks, it also was the impetus for our quest for a more efficient ventilation system, for better comfort.  Caulking is just one step in the process.  We’re hoping for a very comfortable winter.


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