Friday, September 07, 2012

Sealing Gaps and Cracks to Save Money, Prevent Problems

The fair weather of autumn offers the best time to get outside and inspect our homes and businesses for gaps and cracks that can allow unwelcome outdoor air, dust, moisture, and insects to enter

“Air leaks in our homes can lead to higher utility bills, mold, rot, bug and dust problems. The answer can be a low cost solution that includes caulking or possibly foam sealants and the investment of a little time,” said Jeff Barber, a housing and urban design specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Barber says care should be used to select the right product for a specific situation.

“Foam sealants can be difficult to control because of expansion, so they are best used in areas that will not be readily seen like around piping penetrations inside a sink cabinet,” said Barber.

Caulking is preferred for areas that require more precision and control. Paintable latex caulking is easy to use indoors because of the ease of cleanup. Silicone or urethane caulks are better solutions for outdoor applications.

“Some may be afraid to try using these products, but following the instructions on packaging or consulting the staff at a hardware or home improvement center can easily inform people how to begin sealing up the leaks in their homes and businesses,” said Barber.

A good “rule-of –thumb” according to Barber is to cut the caulking tip at a slight angle, creating an opening that will create a string of caulk similar to thick yarn. If more is needed, cutting a little further up the tip will offer a larger width.

“Many applications can be finished by using a finger wipe to press caulking into place while removing excess material,” said Barber.

University of Missouri Extension has prepared a guide entitled, “GH5936 Simple Home Repairs: Caulking and Filling Cracks Around Windows and Doors” that can be a starting point for these repairs. The guide can be found on the MU Extension website at


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