Energy efficiency: handy home sealing hints

August 13, 2015

To help keep your home as energy efficient as possible, search for gaps and cracks around the house and seal them well to stop drafts and dampness from getting in. These handy home sealing tips will tell you where to look and what to do to fix some of the problems you may find.

  • The gap between the foundations and the bottom edge of the wall cladding is a significant source of drafts. Prop up an old mirror so that you can see what you're doing without having to constantly change position and risking straining your back.
  • Poking old sealant with a screwdriver to test it. If the sealant cracks, scrape it out and squeeze in a fresh bead.
  • For a tight seal around aluminium, bronze or galvanized steel, wipe the surface with a solvent such as acetone first to remove any coatings and oily deposits that could stop the sealant from adhering well.
  • In hot weather, refrigerate your sealant cartridge for 20 minutes before you start. On a cold day, wrap it in a hot pad for a while before using it.
  • Sealant usually doesn't adhere well to very cold surfaces. For maximum adhesion on a cold day, warming up your target surface with hot air from a hair dryer before you apply the sealant.
  • To seal around an external tap, first loosen any screws holding the tap in place. Then scrape out the old sealant with a putty knife. Squeeze a bead of silicone sealant behind the mounting plate, and screw the plate back in place. Smooth the sealant with a putty knife.
  • Always check the cartridge label to see if the sealant will accept paint. Some silicone sealants have exceptional adhesion and elasticity but will resist a coat of paint.
  • Pieces of potato cut to just the right shape are a smart way to smooth sealant around a joint. The potato's juices will prevent the sealant from sticking to it as you use it. Keep your potato pieces moist in a plastic bag until you need them.
  • When sealing the outside of a brick house, don't fill the small, regularly spaced holes or mortarless joints located above the foundations, doors and windows. These are 'weep holes' that allow moisture to escape from the wall.
  • Use polyurethane foam instead of sealant for any cracks that are wider than 1 centimetre (3/8 inch). Foam expands by up to 30 percent once it leaves the can so it's ideal for filling troublesome gaps. You can also use polyurethane foam to silence squeaky stairs and cushion pipes that rattle against the house frame. And, once the foam's dry, it can be trimmed to neaten it up.
  • If the gap between the house's cladding and foundation is more than 1 centimetre (3/8 inch) wide or 1 centimetre (3/8 inch) deep, insert a strip of open-cell polyethylene foam into the gap first. Then top it off with butyl rubber sealant.

When you seal up gaps and cracks around your home, you help to make your home more energy efficient. Keep these handy home sealing tips in mind to be able to know where to look for these gaps and cracks, and to know what to do about them.

Energy efficiency: handy home sealing hints
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