How To Check Weather-Stripping and Caulking

Weather-stripping and caulking are placed in homes to prevent drafts and air leaks. They’re frequently found around doors, windows, mail chutes, dryer vents and wherever two different materials come together. Over time, however, weather-stripping and caulking can degrade and become less effective. If your home’s weather-stripping and caulking haven’t been replaced in several years, here’s how to check whether they’re still effective.

Feel for Drafts Near Windows and Doors

You may already know where your home has drafts, which are a common sign of ineffective insulation. If you don’t already know of drafts, walk around your house feeling for them.

Wherever you feel a draft, look at the weather-stripping and caulking nearby. Make sure it isn’t cracking, peeling or chipping. It likely won’t be, as noticeable drafts are often caused by other insulation issues. Checking the weather-stripping and caulking is an easy first step, though.

Visually Inspect All Weather-Stripping and Caulking

After feeling around for drafts, visually inspect all the weather-stripping and caulking in your home. As mentioned, make sure there isn’t any chipping, peeling or tearing. These signs both show that the weather-stripping or caulking is deteriorating, and create gaps that air will flow through. Look both inside and outside your windows.

Light a Candle or Incense

To find the smallest of gaps in weather-stripping or caulking, light a candle or incense stick. Then, slowly move the candle or incense stick along any areas that have weather-stripping or caulking. (This works best on a windy day.)

If air is moving in or out of your home, it will make the flame flicker or the smoke move. If either happens, the weather-stripping or caulking in that particular spot either is deteriorated or wasn’t properly applied. Air is getting in or out.

Replace Worn or Inadequate Weather-Stripping and Caulking

The weather-stripping and caulking should be replaced in any areas where there are leaks. Now that you know where those are, it is time to actually do the work. Simply rip up the current weather-stripping or caulking, and then put in new similar material. Use weather stripping around doors, windows and other places where pieces move. Use caulking where the adjoining pieces are stationary and not more than a ¼-inch apart. Both materials are readily available at hardware centers.

Checking the condition of your weather-stripping and caulking regularly gives you the opportunity to fix small problems while they are still small and easy to deal with. Your home will be more comfortable without drafts and your utility bills should stay lower, too!

You might also like:

Download our Home Maintenance Schedule to keep up on this and other home maintenance tasks.

Download home maintenance schedule

Weather-stripping and caulking are placed in homes to prevent drafts and air leaks. They’re frequently found around doors, windows, mail chutes, dryer vents and wherever two different materials come together. Over time, however, weather-stripping and caulking can degrade and become less effective. If your home’s weather-stripping and caulking haven’t been replaced in several years, here’s how to check whether they’re still effective.

Feel for Drafts Near Windows and Doors

You may already know where your home has drafts, which are a common sign of ineffective insulation. If you don’t already know of drafts, walk around your house feeling for them.

Wherever you feel a draft, look at the weather-stripping and caulking nearby. Make sure it isn’t cracking, peeling or chipping. It likely won’t be, as noticeable drafts are often caused by other insulation issues. Checking the weather-stripping and caulking is an easy first step, though.

Visually Inspect All Weather-Stripping and Caulking

After feeling around for drafts, visually inspect all the weather-stripping and caulking in your home. As mentioned, make sure there isn’t any chipping, peeling or tearing. These signs both show that the weather-stripping or caulking is deteriorating, and create gaps that air will flow through. Look both inside and outside your windows.

Light a Candle or Incense

To find the smallest of gaps in weather-stripping or caulking, light a candle or incense stick. Then, slowly move the candle or incense stick along any areas that have weather-stripping or caulking. (This works best on a windy day.)

If air is moving in or out of your home, it will make the flame flicker or the smoke move. If either happens, the weather-stripping or caulking in that particular spot either is deteriorated or wasn’t properly applied. Air is getting in or out.

Replace Worn or Inadequate Weather-Stripping and Caulking

The weather-stripping and caulking should be replaced in any areas where there are leaks. Now that you know where those are, it is time to actually do the work. Simply rip up the current weather-stripping or caulking, and then put in new similar material. Use weather stripping around doors, windows and other places where pieces move. Use caulking where the adjoining pieces are stationary and not more than a ¼-inch apart. Both materials are readily available at hardware centers.

Checking the condition of your weather-stripping and caulking regularly gives you the opportunity to fix small problems while they are still small and easy to deal with. Your home will be more comfortable without drafts and your utility bills should stay lower, too!

You might also like:

Download our Home Maintenance Schedule to keep up on this and other home maintenance tasks.

Download home maintenance schedule