Window caulking is one of the most important, yet overlooked parts of window maintenance. Caulk seals the gaps around windows, preventing indoor air from escaping, and also blocks drafts of outdoor air, and melting snow from getting in through window frames and window sills. Window caulking not only contributes to the comfort of your home but also impacts your energy home’s energy efficiency and can have a direct impact on heating and cooling bills.

How Often Should Window Caulking be Replaced?

Caulk is super-important as it insulates windows and seals gaps and cracks. The bad part is though, that it doesn’t last forever. In order to maintain maximum effectiveness, caulk will have to be reapplied every once in a while to interior and exterior windows. Like many homeowners, you may neglect to reapply caulk to your windows.

Have you noticed drafts coming from your windows?

If you’ve been feeling cold or hot drafts blowing through your windows or if your energy bills are higher than usual, your window caulking – or lack of window caulking – could be to blame.

When caulk degrades, its effectiveness significantly reduces and eventually becomes completely useless. When that happens, indoor air will escape, outdoor air will blow inside, and your home’s HVAC system must work harder to maintain indoor temperatures, all of which will result in a higher utility bill.

Needless to say, making sure that your window caulking is in good shape is a must. How often should you reapply window caulking?

How Often Should Window Caulk be Reapplied?

While applying caulking to windows “as necessary” may not be a very helpful answer, it’s the truth. Although the vast majority of brands and types of caulk last five years or so on windows, there are a number of factors that can shorten window caulk life expectancy. Listed below are factors to consider if you’re wondering how often you should replace your window caulking.

The Age of Your House

Believe it or not, the age of your house can impact the caulking around your windows. The caulking in newer houses tends to need to be reapplied more frequently. Why? Because it takes a while for newer houses to settle. As the house settles, the wood expands and contracts, which can affect the caulking. For example, the caulking can become cracked or completely dislodged.

Weather

The weather has a direct impact on how often caulk should be reapplied as well. Heavy rain, high humidity levels, and freezing temperatures can speed up the degradation of window caulking. In the United States, weather patterns travel from the west to the east, which means that the caulking around the windows on the west side of your house may deteriorate at a faster rate.

Sun Exposure

The powerful UV rays and extreme temperatures from the sun can wreak havoc on window caulking. These factors can dry caulk out, which can result in cracking. Therefore, if your home receives a lot of sunlight, you’re probably going to need to reapply the window caulking on a more frequent basis.

How to Tell When Window Caulking Needs to be Reapplied?

The factors listed above are just some of the most common factors that can impact window caulking, causing it to degrade faster than the average five-year lifespan of most caulk brands and types (acrylic latex, siliconized latex, polyurethane, and silicone caulk). Since everyone’s home is different, there isn’t an exact timeframe for replacing caulking on windows. Therefore, you should get into the habit of inspecting the window caulking on a regular basis.

Inspect the caulking at least once a year, though preferably twice a year, prior to winter and before spring. If you notice any of the following, it’s time to replace the interior and exterior caulking on windows:

  • Cracking
  • Peeling
  • Discoloration
  • Small bugs on the windowsills
  • Drafts
  • Increased energy bills
  • Window rattling
  • Whistling sounds blowing through the windows
  • Moisture on the windowsills
  • Condensation on the windowpanes

Caulking a Window: How to Guide

Caulking a window is an essential step in maintaining energy efficiency and preventing water damage. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to caulk a window:

Materials Needed:

  • Caulk gun
  • Caulk (choose an appropriate type for your window and climate, such as silicone or acrylic)
  • Utility knife or caulk removal tool
  • Clean rag or cloth
  • Painter’s tape (optional)
  • Caulk smoother (optional)

How to Caulk a Window: Step by Step

  1. Prepare the Window: Start by thoroughly cleaning the window frame and the area around it. Remove any old caulk using a utility knife or caulk removal tool. Wipe away any dust, dirt, or debris with a clean rag.
  2. Choose the Right Caulk: Select the appropriate caulk for your window. Silicone caulk is durable and flexible, making it ideal for exterior use and areas prone to exposure to water. Acrylic caulk is easier to work with and paintable but may not be as durable.
  3. Load the Caulk Gun: Insert the caulk tube into the caulking gun and cut off the tip of the nozzle at a 45-degree angle using a utility knife. Be sure to cut the tip to the desired size, depending on the width of the gap you need to fill.
  4. Apply Caulk: Start at one corner of the window frame. Hold the caulking gun at a 45-degree angle and apply a steady bead of caulk along the gap between the window frame and the wall or siding. Move the caulking gun smoothly along the entire length of the gap, applying an even layer of caulk.
  5. Smooth the Caulk: If desired, you can use a caulk smoother or your finger to smooth out the bead of caulk. Wetting your finger with water or a mild soap solution can help prevent the caulk from sticking to your skin.
  6. Remove Excess Caulk: Use a damp rag or cloth to wipe away any excess caulk before it dries. This will help create a clean, neat finish.
  7. Let it Dry: Allow the caulk to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions before painting or exposing it to water or extreme temperatures.
  8. Optional: Apply Painter’s Tape: If you want a cleaner caulk line, you can apply painter’s tape along the edges of the gap before caulking. Remove the tape immediately after applying the caulk to create a straight edge.
  9. Inspect and Touch Up: Once the caulk is dry, inspect the window for any gaps or areas that may need additional caulking. Apply more caulk as needed to ensure a tight seal.

Following these steps will help you properly caulk your window, improving its energy efficiency and protecting it from moisture damage.

Additional Reading: Update or Replace Windows – energy.gov

Discount Window and Door of Omaha

At Discount Window and Door of Omaha, we are committed to providing the best quality doors and replacement windows. We employ the most skilled installers to ensure the highest standard of quality service. Our Omaha door and window installers are highly trained, certified industry professionals with years of experience, including some second and third-generation employees.

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