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Seal in Warmth

Updated on March 5, 2015

Reduce the gas bill

I love my home and wish to stay in it comfortably for many years but maintaining a home is not easy work. You have to be an on-call plumber when the toilet over fills, good with a wrench when the washer in the kitchen faucet sprung a trickle and you have to understand the technical side of heating and ventilation systems. The difference in being a renter versus a home-owner is that renting offers another person known as the landlord who is supposed to maintain the building and its units, insides. Well I am a home owner so no landlord which meant I had to learn a lot about the latter issue, the HVAC system last year when our furnace of 16 years was in its last months of surviving bitter cold and escaping heat from the many leak points I had surrounding the inside of my foundation.

The foundation has settled about 2 foot total since the image shown below was taken in May of 2011; however since me moving in 2001, I have never really experienced a heat loss as maximum as last years was. This was due in part to a crack going up the side of the house which may or may not have affected a collapse of the duct work underneath the house above the slab it sits on. Each year between hot humid summers and frigid winters, the foundation and my first floor has taken a beating. This last three months' weather has been brutal in zero temperatures dispersed throughout the Ohio Valley winter and as a result many furnaces either over-worked or died and needed replacing.

Our furnace was one that was in dire need of evaluation, repair or replace because after she required a new blow motor in mid-December she just gave up right before Valentine's Day. The unit was already over the warranty of a 20 year span since having been installed in 1999, as 17 years had passed since she was originally installed so I was expecting something to go wrong, and I was right. My keen sense of unusual aches and pains associated with being in the house for hours, then leaving to go to work, that when coming back home and sitting there the pain in my shoulders would return; yet while I was out breathing fresher air, I would not hurt. This scenario only took a few weeks to 'get' and believe maybe carbon Monoxide was making its way through my house.

I was not sure early on in the diagnosis of the heat exchanger that any possible concentration of Carbon Monoxide might have been escaping but after our furnace had been diagnosed last April with a hairline crack in it, no big issue until the whirring sound and having headaches way more than the usual once or twice a year became frequently, like every other day, I was concerned. I do have a Carbon Monoxide monitor near the furnace but the output was so minimal even the gauges on the monitor, did not detect any leakage.

Besides headaches we were also without any excess heat meaning it reached about 48 downstairs and maybe 55 or 60 upstairs. The downstairs heating and ventilation system under the home, well it has become so corroded and has collapsed somewhere close to the main supply vent. To make a long story somewhat shortened, I needed to start conserving any and all heat we could circulate with ceramic heaters until a replacement furnace would be installed. We put towels against the outer doors and ran the shower those few days but I certainly was not going to continue that practice once a new furnace was put in. I researched caulking using this as a means to keep in the heat where a window frame or sill may be acting as an escape path.

Any crack in windowsills, around door jambs and toilets will not be sealed properly by using those simple foam insulation kits because what you squirt between walls probably won't make it to window frames from the inside. So I located all the spots that were very cold to the touch, realizing these were my escape routes for heat. I assessed with a measuring tape how long the caulk roping needed to be and then looked on-line for different types of caulk.

This type of do-it-yourself project is quite simple if you own a toolbox with an exacto knife, a putty knife, maybe a few screwdrivers flatheads to take off any existing caulk that is old and grungy or cracking itself. It is a really great addition if in your neighborhood there is a Lowes or Builders Square or D.I.Y Warehouse nearby to get what you need. The caulk costs about $12.oo a roll and can accommodate three to four window sills about 10 foot long.

Before putting the caulk in place get it room temperature and clean the area first of moisture or dirt; then cut the amount you need off the roll and press into place. I use a double strand to fit nicely above and below the escape crack so it is completely sealed. So far since doing both the kitchen and bathroom window sills, it has made the downstairs quite a few degrees warmer. I used a stick on caulk adhesive bought from Lowes in a light grey color that adheres to a dry cleaned surface and can be removed when old and dingy.

It is not necessary to paint over the caulk unless you do not plan on removing it for a long time; however it will take a good latex house paint in all sorts of colors with little resistance to absorption. The gummy material comes in a few colors but nothing fancy. It can be cut with scissors or a knife and should be put in when it is a warmer surface than ice-cold so the adhering is more stable.

This is one way during the colder months you can reduce your heating costs and of course give yourself something to do that is not costly nor complicated, enjoy your home especially if you love it and want to grow old in it !


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