Caulking Those Cracks
The gaps and cracks in both the inner and the outer shell of a house need to be sealed if convective heating or cooling losses are to be eliminated. Around the house, where ever two different materials come together, air leaks are likely. You can test for leaks in these places by moving a candle along the questionable seam.
A house in a cold climate can loose up to 50 % of its heat simply through leaks around door and window frames and at construction joints. The added benefit of caulking air leaks is that water leaks at the same location are subsequently prevented. This can save much money and effort in future since water leaks eventually lead to the need for repairs.
When caulking air leaks on the exterior of a house check the following areas:
- Where the siding meets the trim
- Where the siding meets the foundation
- Where the siding meets the chimney
- Where electrical outlets, gas and water lines enter the house
- Door frames
- Window frames
When caulking air leaks on the interior of a house check the following areas:
- Where pipes, wires or light fixtures penetrate the ceiling or walls
- Where the furnace flue goes through the ceiling or roof or un-heated basement
- Where edges of the attic floor and exterior walls meet
- Where the ceiling panels and the interior walls and frames meet
Caulking needs to be carried out in the spring or in the fall. Caulk does not perform well if it is applied at temperatures that are either too hot or too cold. Large cracks will need the application of expanding foam. Expanding foam tends to bubble out as it dries. But, once it is hardened it can be shaved back with a knife.
Caulking a house can make an enormous difference to the amount of energy consumed in heating or cooling the house. The principal of "first stop the bleeding" is definitely at play here. A lot of energy can be just drifting away through the various spaces in the shell of the house. There is not a lot of point in adding any type of passive heating or cooling system (or any other energy improved heating or cooling system) to a house before of these losses have been taken care of.
Anderson, Bruce and Malcolm Wells.(1994) Passive Solar Energy Second Edition, The Homeowner's Guide to Natural heating and Cooling. Brick House Publishing Company, Amherst, New Hampshire,
Bossong, Ken and Jan Pilarski.(1982) Passive Solar Retrofit for Homeowners and Apartment Dwellers. Citizens' Energy Project, Wash D.C. report series no.137" Home owner's Guide to Passive Solar: An Overview"