In order to ensure optimal insulation, caulking is used to seal the cracks, gaps and joints between the elements of a window. Caulking is a flexible material that allows for the normal movement of window parts without cracking or coming loose. However, old and damaged caulking, as well as weatherstripping, can present a number of problematic symptoms, including an increased utility bill. Vintage NYC windows often help to define the style of a building, and their removal can strip a large portion of your home’s value. Simply replacing the caulking can serve to return windows to their energy-efficient prime and avoid costly, time-consuming renovations. Here are three signs that it’s time to check your caulking.
Inadequate sealing on a window or frame often results in drafts and poor insulation. This is not only uncomfortable, but also increases the amount of energy used to heat the room, which is easily spotted by a rise in your energy bill. The failing caulk should be removed and replaced by professionals, especially if pieces are clearly missing or peeling. Adopting the annual habit of winterizing your windows will not only ensure that you will have optimal insulation in the colder months, but also allow you to catch problematic caulking before it causes permanent damage to your window frames.
Glass that moves or rattles in it’s pane is a sure sign of inadequate, missing or perished caulking. The caulking here serves as a cushion between the glass and it’s frame, keeping it secure and preventing movement of the glass. Leaving this unattended risks the breaking of the pane and can cause personal and property damage. Prompt replacement of the caulking can prevent further damage and remove the annoyance of rattling panes.
Loose caulking on your floor or window sill
As caulking ages, it can become dry and brittle. Pieces of caulking that have worked themselves loose from the frame or from under your window ledge and litter your floor or windowsill is another sure sign that your caulking should be replaced, even if gaps are not visible. The caulking may have dislodged from parts that are not readily noticeable such as along the sides of the jamb or under the apron.
Damaged wooden frames
When caulking fails, water can penetrate a wooden window frame where it has not been treated with varnish, paint or stain. As with any other wooden surface, moisture has a devastating long-term effect on wooden frames. Even though vinyl is a much simpler alternative, wooden windows are often indispensable as classic architectural details. Regular inspection of caulking and other elements of your windows can limit and prevent such damage.
Damp above or beneath your window
When caulking between the exterior wall and exterior window sill fails, water may seep through into the plaster and result in bubbling and peeling paintwork both inside and outside your home. Normally this will occur only in severe weather where wind drives the water upwards into tiny gaps where caulking is missing, however the upper portion of the frame may be vulnerable even in a light shower. Regular inspection and maintenance reduces the risk of discovering damaged caulking once it has already damaged your walls.