Caulking a Leaky Window
LESLIE: Pauline in New Jersey is dealing with a situation where a wall and window are coming apart. What can we do for you?PAULINE: Before I start, I’d like to thank you both so much for your wonderful show.TOM: Well, you’re very welcome.LESLIE: Thanks, Pauline.PAULINE: You absolutely have explanations that are so uncomplicated that for anybody like myself, who knows very little about fixing things, you make it so interesting that I just want to listen to it every week.TOM: Well, thank you very much.PAULINE: Yes, and I recommended it to other people as well. You’re excellent.TOM: OK.PAULINE: But now I’ll ask you my question. (Leslie chuckles) I have a side wall around a single-hung, double-pane window.TOM: OK.PAULINE: It’s a double window facing the front of my house in my living room and all of a sudden I noticed, a few weeks ago, stains on the side wall that frames the window and the caulking is away from the frame of the window, from the …TOM: OK.PAULINE: Is this a problem? There’s no water on the sill.TOM: What kind of siding do you have?PAULINE: Vinyl.TOM: Alright, well first of all, we want to know if there’s an active leak or not.PAULINE: OK.TOM: Do you think it’s leaking or do you think it’s just …PAULINE: I don’t know because what it is, it’s not – I have a top, like a transom-type window, that’s the very top; it’s nine-foot ceilings.TOM: (overlapping voices) Right.PAULINE: Then I have the top window. It’s a tract house, so the top window is not a double-hung; it’s a single-hung. The cracking is starting just above where it would lock.TOM: OK. What you’re explaining is normal wear and tear; normal movement inside a house. You almost always get some expansion and contraction and the gap between the window trim and the inside wall is going to move. And so, from time to time, you do need to recaulk that.PAULINE: OK.TOM: You do that with a latex caulk. It’s a very easy project.PAULINE: Latex?TOM: Yeah, don’t use a silicone because it’ll get real gooey on you; but, basically, use a latex caulk and you can use that very special caulking tool – we have five of them on each hand – to smear it in there. (Leslie and Pauline chuckle) And …LESLIE: Your finger. Generally, dip your finger in some water first.PAULINE: Is there a special brand that’s better than others?TOM: Well, all of the sort of name-brand latex products are good. I use DAP a lot.PAULINE: DAP? OK.TOM: Yep, DAP – D-A-P, yeah.PAULINE: And you use your finger rather than an instrument.TOM: That and a sponge; you know, to kind of pull off the excess. Once you do that, that will eliminate the draft and the gap. And then, in terms of the wall itself, if you’ve got some discoloration there, you’re always better off priming it if you don’t know what that is because that gives you a neutral, reliable surface on which to apply new paint. So …PAULINE: Thank you again for all your help. You’re wonderful and I love listening to your show.TOM: You’re welcome, Pauline.LESLIE: Thanks so much.TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.