Thurston Home Talk: Energy Savings Through Caulking


Thurston County Home InspectorSubmitted by: Dwayne Boggs (Dwayne is a home inspector serving the Thurston County area home inspection market)

We’re all looking for ways to improve the thermal efficiency of our houses. We work to keep heat in or out and in this quest caulking has the advantage of being low cost and virtually invisible.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, caulking drafty areas of a building can cut energy costs 10%; furthermore, about 50% of the average fuel bill is the result of heat loss from air infiltration. If that sounds hard to believe, Old House Journal once speculated that if all the cracks in a typical old house were combined into a single opening, it would total nine square feet or more, about the area of a window opening!

Any time you make a building more vapor-tight, you risk trapping high moisture levels inside, which we all know have the potential to lead to serious problems, from peeling paint to rotting wood.

When caulking exteriors, remember that water primarily travels down, not up, so don’t caulk the undersides of window trim, door trim, or siding such as clapboards. This practice creates a path for some moisture migration out of the structure.

Obviously, caulk isn’t a cure-all, and it will do little to solve a draft problem if you have major structural failures, such as damaged or missing siding and trim, or if an open fireplace damper or an uninsulated attic is creating a chimney effect inside your house. However, along with insulating and ventilating your attic, and making sure your windows and doors are tight and fitted with proper storms and weather seals, caulk can be a cost-effective way to improve old-house comfort and performance.


About the Author

Dwayne is a  former past President of the  Washington Association of Property Inspectors, Dwayne is also a committee member for the Washington State Pest Management Association (WSPMA), Dwayne has been serving the Thurston County home inspection markets of Olympia home inspection , Lacey home inspection and Tumwater home inspection for many years. Boggs Inspection Services can be reached at 360-480-9602.

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