How The Right Weatherstripping Will Save You Money
By Stephen Clayton
Installing and maintaining your caulking and weatherstripping is an easy and affordable way to keep your energy costs low. Essentially, weatherstripping or caulking works to seal the gaps around your windows and doors. It keeps them leak-free, meaning the hot or conditioned air stays inside, while the outside air stays out.
Keep reading to learn about some of the basic weatherstripping options available to you, along with fresh tips on what types of stripping will work best for your windows.
Types of Weather Stripping
Most weatherstripping can be divided into two categories: nail-on stripping and the self-stick tape style. Because it's more common, we're going to talk about self-stick tape weatherstripping first. Most self-sticking weatherstripping is made of foam, rubber or vinyl and then typically backed with a sticky adhesive for easy application.
Self-sticking weatherstripping works best on vinyl or metal windows, basically any situation where driving in nails is going to damage the frame or simply isn't possible. To install self-stick tape stripping, you simply cut it to size with scissors, remove the adhesive backing and stick it on, being careful to position it slowly so you don't accidentally misalign or squeeze a lump into it.
When purchasing self-sticking tape, look for a type called EPDM (ethylene-propylene-diene-monomer). This rubber tape is known for being a long-lasting product that retains its insulation power and elasticity through years of inclement weather.
If you're looking for a nail-on stripping, you can try spring bronze or vinyl v-strips. Spring bronze weatherstripping works best on gaps that are less than a quarter inch wide and have a consistent width. To install spring bronze, you simply nail the metal flange in place and then spring it open to close the gap.
Vinyl V-strips are another alternate for spring bronze, but they're not known for being durable. They're easy to install and work best with wood frames, but the vinyl can wear out fast, especially if exposed to harsh weather conditions or excessive moisture from rain and condensation in the home.
Finally, there's high-density foam stripping, which typically comes in a tape form. The most common type is closed cell foam, both inexpensive and waterproof, but also known to be less durable than EPDM. While high-density, closed-cell foam is a little more flexible and less expensive, you'll need to replace it more often. Over the long term, it will likely cost more. Open-cell foam is a similar variation, designed to fit narrow and irregularly shaped gaps, but intended for indoor use only.
You can check for loose or inefficient weatherstripping with a simple desk fan and extension cord. You'll need two people; one person stands outside the window with the fan while the other stands inside to test for air leaks. Go around the outside the window frame with the fan blowing, while feeling for drafts. Make note of the windows that need to be re-stripped and get started before the harsh hot or cold weather arrives where you live.
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