15 Nov 3 Things All HomeOwners Need to DO
In Florida we face special circumstances. There are no long, cold winters. Just a couple weeks of cool weather. So most of the time we are running our AC. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the same preventive measures our friends and family do up north to prepare for winter. Insulating your home saves you money if it is a heating or cooling bill you’re paying.
One of the best ways to check your home energy usage is to contact your power company about an energy assessment. It used to be that they would come out to your home and help you go over everything to make sure you are in as good of shape as you can be. They still do but now with the pandemic and a variety of protocols there are other options available. Now you can do it on the phone or even online! There really is no excuse for you not having an energy assessment. It’s like a checkup for your home.
OK, now for my 3 Things Every Homeowner Needs to Do.
- Weather striping
One of the most common things always mentioned in these posts over and over is to check your weather stripping on all your doors and windows because it is one of the easiest things to address. It is also one of the biggest leaks of climate controlled air. It just pours out your windows and doors while you cool the warm air that replaces it. Or, warms the cool air in winter, over and over all day long. If your widows are not sealed it really is just throwing your money away every month. Over the year that can be hundreds of dollars wasted.
The easiest way to check for leaks is to take an incense stick or candle and light it and move it around your windows and doors. If you see the smoke from the incense move or the flame flicker you know you have a leak that needs to be sealed. Sometimes the leaks are bad enough that curtains move or you can feel a draft.
Weather-stripping is easy to apply. It comes in a wide variety of sizes and even shapes to fit your application. (To learn more you can visit the DOE website HERE) It is just foam insulation with double stick adhesive added to one side. You find where the windows or doors are not sealing and apply the proper weather strip. This fills the gap and prevents the air exchange from outside. The most important thing is to make sure that the surface you’re going to stick the adhesive to is really clean and smooth. If it isn’t the weather strip adhesive will fail and the strip will fall off. Use a light cleaner on all surfaces and allow it to complete dry. A wipe with some rubbing alcohol will remove any oily residue insuring a good adhesion.
The next step is much more labor intensive but worth it in the long run. It is checking and applying the caulk that surrounds your windows and doors at the point where they join the structure. The caulk only lasts a few years and the seal fails. It is easy to see if you just take a walk around your house and look at the seal around your windows and doors. If it isn’t a solid, continuous seal all the way around, it is time to caulk.
Here is the best advice I can give you. If there is one thing I would tell all people embarking on a project this is a universal truth. The beginning of every project where it has some annoying part of the project like removing the caulk and cleaning the surface, is really the most important part of the project for it to come out good. If you don’t do a good job on this step you’re setting yourself up for failure on all the proceeding ones. As annoying as this step is, it is really important to do it right. OK, so here are your steps to weatherizing your windows.
In a nutshell you want to look all around the window frames where the existing caulk is applied. If it is not fully sealed between the window and structure then it is time to be replaced.
DO NOT just apply new caulk over the old. It won’t stick. It will seem like it will work because it plugs up the hole but in a few weeks it will peel and fall off because of poor adherence.
Step 1. Remove all the old caulk. All of it. If you have a can of air for your keyboard it is a great help getting the loose fragments out of your work area. When you have all the old caulk and fragments out give it a blast around the area. Or, if you have an air compressor that is even better. Once the area is free of old caulk and debris you’re ready for step 2.
Step 2. Wipe the area with mineral spirits or rubbing alcohol. This is super important too because if you touched the window frames with your hands you put oils on it and nothing sticks to oils. Or just being exposed to the outdoor environment can get substances on the frame that prevents the caulk from sticking. It has to be wiped clean. Again, do a good job and don’t leave any stuff on the frames or structure where the caulk will adhere.
Step3. Apply the caulk (Watch the video to learn now). Make sure that the bead covers the entire width of the gap. Then use a tool or your finger to squish the caulk into the joint and smooth the surface. Having a wet towel to put a little moisture on your finger prevents the caulk from sticking to you so you can glide your finger over it smoothly. If you find a place that has a big or deep gap don’t fill it up with caulk. There is a product called “backer rod” that is like a tiny pool noodle about the size of your finger that you stuff into the gap and then put the caulk over that.
That is it. Most of the work is in the prep to do it right. You do the same thing for doors.
The other big thing you need to do is check in the insulation in your attic. In the summer months here the heat up there can heat your ceiling radiating heat into your living space. This makes your AC work harder to cool your home. During the winter it can have the opposite effect. There are several ways to insulate your attic. One of the most common is rolled insulation. But often, in attics there are electric wires or other things making using that type difficult. So they have developed blow-in insulation that makes that job a lot easier. You’ll have to do some research to see what is going to work best for your home.
Here are some tips from the experts at the Power Authority of Long Island. It may be up north but the same insulating properties apply.
Weatherization Financial Assistance – there is even financial assistance for people that need it to help get your home weatherized. Follow this link to LEARN MORE