Weatherizing 1 - Introduction Weatherizing 1 - Introduction

What You Will Be Doing

Although insulation wraps your house in a nice warm blanket, heat or air conditioning can still leak out through seemingly inconsequential cracks. Often these "inconsequential" cracks can add up to as much as a 2-square foot hole!

Tracking down and sealing these leaks is not as difficult as it may seem. There are a number of ways to go about this. You can hire a 'house doctor' to do an audit. You can contract for an energy audit (a scientific, thermographic audit conducted by a professional firm, which produces a geographic picture of the leaks in your home). Usually, however, your local utility company will conduct an audit at your home free of charge. Just call and ask them about it. You may not get the detail in the free audit that you would in one you paid for, but it will still provide you with useful information and a place to begin. They may also suggest improvements that would make you eligible for energy tax credits. But if your utility company doesn't answer your call, and if you're appalled at the cost of a professional, by following the guidelines presented in this section, you can do an effective weatherization audit yourself.

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In this section you will not only learn where your home weatherization problems are, you'll learn how to correct them as well.


Although weatherstripping your home doesn't sound like a dangerous way to spend a weekend, simple carelessness can lead to some potentially harmful situations.

  • Wear gloves whenever working with fiberglass.
  • Wear safety glasses or goggles whenever hammering.
  • Provide for adequate ventilation when sealing your house weather tight. This eliminates unhealthy build-up of noxious fumes from various materials used in building the home.
  • Keep hot water temperatures set at less than 115 degrees. This eliminates scalding hazards, particularly where small children are concerned. It will save you money as well.
  • Do not extend insulation of gas hot water heater to the floor, thereby cutting off the air supply to the pilot light.
  • Do not tape or insulate too close to the duct on top of a gas heater.

Useful Terms

Caulk - A flexible seal applied from pressurized applicator to seal cracks and gaps.

Countersinking - Sinking below the surface (as with the use of a nailset to countersink a finishing nail).

Door threshold (or saddle) - The doorsill, a piece of wood or metal placed beneath the door.

Downspouts - The portion of rain gutter that drains from the roof to the ground.

Glazing compound - The type of caulk used to seal glass into panes. Jalousie Window. Formed of horizontal glass slats.

Oakum - Loose, stringy, hemp fiber from old ropes which makes a useful caulk for deep cracks.

Soffits - The underside of an overhanging roof.

Window sash - The frame work for holding glass panes.

Weatherstripping - Materials added to movable parts of the home (doors, windows, etc.) to seal against air infiltration when closed.

Window film - A 6-ml. plastic covering (like a painter's drop cloth), stapled or adhered to the window in lieu of storm closures.

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