As windows age, sun, wind, and weather temperature changes take their toll on the exterior. This can cause caulk to dry and crack which allows air and moisture into your home. Small cracks and crevices can become larger over time and your home becomes less and less cozy and energy efficient. So, how can you be sure that your windows are as energy-efficient as you think they are, and how can you reseal them if they aren’t? Here’s a guide that will walk you through the process of finding and sealing window leaks:
How to Check and Seal Your Windows in 4 Steps
Gather these materials:
- Candle or lighter
- Caulk softener
- Putty knife
- Towel or soft rag
- Caulk gun
- Tube of caulk
Step 1. Conduct a Flame Test to Find the Leaks
Pick a windy day and hold a lighter near the window seams. If the flame bends, it means there is a draft that is pulling it in that direction. Repeat this test with all of your windows and note which ones are leaking. Always be careful with an open flame.
Step 2. Inspect the Caulk around Your Windows
Exterior caulk tends to dry out in the summer heat and can create gaps and cracks that let in water and air. It’s a good idea to check all of your windows, even the ones that weren’t drafty, to see if the interior or exterior caulk (or both) are showing signs of degradation. Make a note of which windows need to be repaired.
Step 3. Remove Old Caulk
Before you can re-caulk the windows, you will need to remove the old caulk to ensure a good seal. Apply caulk softener to old caulking and let it soak for two hours. Using a putty knife, remove any loose caulk from the frame, the interior, and the exterior of your window. Creating a clean area to work with will eliminate the chance of new caulking coming loose and flaking off with older layers.
Step 4. Apply New Caulk
Using a towel or soft rag, clean the surface where you’ve removed the old caulk. You’ll want a dust-free surface for the new caulk to adhere. Cut the tip of the caulking tube at a 45-degree angle. Insert the tube into a caulking gun and gently apply pressure. Move the gun along the seams in a smooth motion. If you need to fill a larger gap, move more slowly to ensure the caulking fills the space adequately. Wet your finger and smooth out the caulk to give a clean, finished look. Let the caulk dry as directed in the instructions.
TIP: Use a touch of liquid dish soap in the water before you dip your finger in to smooth the caulk. It will keep the caulk from sticking to your skin and make your finger glide more smoothly along the bead of caulk.
4 Signs Your Home Needs Window Replacement
After inspecting your windows, you may wonder if it’s time to replace them. Here are some signs that your windows need to be replaced:
- Your windows are 20 years or older
- Your window panes or frames are cracked or damaged
- Your window insulation is minimal or nonexistent
- Your window is still drafty after replacing the caulk