Where are the most common sources for air leaks in the home?
Air leaking through holes and cracks account for up to 20 percent of heating and cooling costs (or up to 10 percent of total energy costs) in a typical home. Many air leaks are easy to find because they are easy to feel and are located in common areas of the house—especially around windows and doors. But hidden air leaks in attics, basements, and around chimneys are often more significant sources of energy loss. Seal these areas properly to keep your energy from slipping away.Where in my house should I caulk?
What tools will I need to caulk?
You should caulk gaps, cracks, or joints in areas where you want to keep water and/or air out in your home. The list below includes common places where caulk/sealant is needed:
- Penetration in the attic floor, knee walls, and cracks where air can enter/exit from the outside
- Windows and doors
- Basement rim joists (where the foundation meets the wood frame)
- Where faucets or pipes meet the house
- Cracks in exterior siding or where two different materials meet (e.g., siding and chimney or foundation)
- Around air vents and ducts
- Penetrations in the walls such as electrical wiring and outlets, plumbing, recessed lighting, and phone or TV cables
- Leaks in gutters or cracks in flashing
- Kitchen sinks, faucets, backsplashes, countertops
- Bathroom tubs, showers, along top of shower surround, backsplashes
- Between crown molding, baseboards, chair rails and wallboard
How do I apply caulk?
- Caulk removing tool or putty knife (to remove old caulk and debris)
- Household cleaner or rubbing alcohol
- A stiff wire brush (if repairing masonry or concrete)
- A clean, dry cloth or (lintless) paper towels
- Painter's masking tape
- A backer rod (if the gap is more than 1/2" wide or deep)
- Caulk gun (A caulk gun is not necessary for smaller jobs that can be finished with squeeze tubes.)
- Mineral spirits or isopropyl alcohol (when using silicone)
Does caulk/sealant go bad?
Caulking is as simple as five easy steps. Visit our DIY center
for directions, as well as tips for specific projects.
GE-branded caulks & sealants feature a "Use By" date on the bottom of the cartridge. This will tell you if the caulk/sealant is still fresh and able to be used. If you cannot read the use by date or want to test the caulk/sealant prior to starting a project, there is also a simple test that only takes 10 to 15 minutes. Run a small bead on a piece of cardboard. If after about 15 minutes, the product doesn't form a "skin," the product is probably too old and won't ever fully cure (dry completely).What can I use to make the curing time longer, or to thin the caulk/sealant?
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, we do not recommend attempting to thin caulk/sealant at home. You should choose the product best suited for your application. If you are an industrial customer, contact a customer service representative at 1-866-275-4372 for detailed information.I followed the instructions on the back of the cartridge; however, the caulk/sealant is taking a very long time to cure.
The temperature and humidity in the air can affect how long a silicone sealant takes to cure or an acrylic caulk/sealant to dry. A silicone sealant will cure slower when it is cool and the air is dry (low humidity). An acrylic caulk/sealant will dry slower when it is cooler out or more humid. Make sure to vary your wait time based on the humidity level.What can I use on my electrical components?
Caulk/sealant should not be considered for use in any electrical application. Contact a customer service representative at 1-866-275-4372 for more information.Can I use silicone in my pool, whirlpool bath, or boat?
Silicone sealant should not be considered for any constant underwater use. A good rule of thumb is to not apply any caulk/sealant below water level.Can I apply new silicone on old silicone?
For the best adhesion, we recommend removing the old silicone. New silicone will bond to old silicone, but the bond is not as strong as if it is adhered to a clean surface. If you choose to apply over old silicone, the warranty is void.Do I have to do anything to the surface material before I apply a caulk/sealant?
Should I use different GE-branded caulk/sealant products for different types of jobs?
Some materials, such as concrete, soft woods, stone, specially treated metals, plastics, or other man-made materials, might have unpredictable surface characteristics. Therefore, we recommend that you test for adhesion by applying the caulk/sealant to a small area before proceeding with an entire job. It is also very important to prepare surfaces properly. Surface preparation should be done on the same day you apply the product. The following are guidelines for preparing a variety of surfaces.
- Concrete, masonry, and stone: Use a wire brush to remove the old caulk/sealant, dirt, dust, and loose particles. All contaminants and impurities must be cleaned off, such as concrete form release agents, water repellents, and other surface treatments and protective coatings.
- Porous surfaces: Use sandpaper or a wire brush where necessary to provide a sound, clean surface.
- Metal, glass, and plastic: Clean the surface with a solvent such as mineral spirits or a lacquer thinner. When using solvents, always wipe the surface dry with a clean cloth or lintless paper towels. Never allow a solvent to air dry or evaporate without wiping. Caution: Only use these solvents in a well-ventilated area and follow all safety precautions and instructions listed on the product label. When solvents are used, proper safety precautions must be observed.
- General: Do not use silicone sealant on any galvanized surface. Do not use below the water level. Cleaning surfaces with detergent or soap and water is not recommended as silicone will not adhere to surfaces with any soap scum/residue present.
Yes; caulks/sealants are offered with varying formulation and typical uses. Each caulk/sealant’s physical properties, including adhesion, flexibility, color, opacity, finish, elasticity, and durability may vary significantly, so it is important to select the right product for your specific job requirements.
An easy way to approach the selection process is to first classify the job by category: waterproof, waterproof and paintable, paintable or specialty.
Waterproof: Sealant that keeps water out is a necessity in areas that will be regularly exposed to water, such as windows, doors, kitchens, and baths. If the sealant is not permanently waterproof, the area could be left vulnerable to water damage and mold growth. Silicone sealants offer permanently waterproof seals when painting is not required.
Waterproof and paintable: Some projects require a sealant that is both waterproof and paintable. If the area will be exposed to water or the outdoor elements, a permanently waterproof and shrink-/crack-proof sealant is needed. If the sealant is not permanently waterproof and shrink-/crack-proof, the area could be left vulnerable to water damage and mold growth. If the sealant needs to match the exact color of the adjacent surface, it also needs to be paintable.
Paintable: For projects that need to be painted and are not regularly exposed to harsh outdoor elements or water for a significant length of time, such as interior molding and baseboards, a paintable acrylic latex can be used.
Specialty: For outdoor projects that include roofs, gutters, concrete and other surfaces, a specialty silicone product may be needed.
How long will caulk/sealant release an odor?
Caulk/sealant releases an odor during its cure cycle. Most of this process occurs during the first 24 hours after the product is applied. GE Silicone 2*+ sealant is a neutral cure sealant and does not have the same vinegar-type odor that is associated with acetoxy cure sealants like GE Silicone 1* sealant and most other silicone sealants.Which caulks/sealants can be painted over?
100% silicone is non-paintable. GE-branded Paintable Silicone Supreme and All Projects Paintable Silicone are waterproof and paintable sealants that combines the exceptional performance benefits of silicone with the paintability of an acrylic latex.At what temperature can caulk/sealants be applied?
Another option is a siliconized acrylic latex caulk or sealant. These products are paintable, durable, flexible, with easy water clean-up.
GE-branded silicone sealants can be applied in a temperature range of 40° F to 100° F. However, for the best application, the sealant itself must be at or above room temperature. Most of our acrylic caulks/sealants must be applied when the temperature is 40° F or higher. Generally, it's important that the surface be clean, dry, and frost-free for the caulk/sealant to properly adhere to the surface.How much will one cartridge/tube cover?
In general, one 10.1-oz cartridge is enough for one standard doors (3' x 7') and two windows (36” x 53”), or two bathtubs and one sink (50 linear feet with a 3/16" bead). One 2.8-oz tube is enough for one door or one tub and small repairs/touch-ups.How do I store silicone sealant?
Push any air out of the nozzle by pushing the sealant all the way to the tip before tightly replacing the cap. Store in a cool environment. If it is a squeeze tube, push the sealant up out of the nozzle before replacing the cap. Only twist cap until it stops. You should squeeze some silicone into the tip of the cap. By doing so, you'll remove the cured silicone plug when removing the top.What is the typical cure time (drying time) for silicone sealant?
What does "tooling time" mean?
A 3/16" bead "normally" completely cures in 24 hours. The cure time could vary depending on the moisture in the air. Lack of humidity will make the curing process slower. If the product shows some sign of curing, such as a change in original consistency, it should cure but might take longer than normal. It might take up to 48 hours for caulk to cure under cooler or dryer conditions.
GE Silicone 2*+ sealant:
- Tack-free: 30 minutes
- Water exposure: 30 minutes
- Cure time: 24 hours
GE Silicone 1* sealant:
- Tack-free: 30 minutes
- Water exposure: 12 hours
- Cure time: 24 hours
"Tooling time" is the amount of time you have to work, smooth, tool or otherwise manipulate the silicone sealant once it's applied and before it starts to skin over.What is the tooling time for silicone sealant?
What's the difference between GE Silicone 1 sealant and GE Silicone 2+ sealant?
The typical tooling time is set forth below:
- GE Silicone 2+ sealant: Six to eight minutes of tooling time
- GE Silicone 1 sealant: Two to five minutes of tooling time
GE Silicone 2+ sealant is what's called a "neutral cure" silicone, which means no acids are released during the curing process (as there are in GE Silicone 1 sealant). This enables GE Silicone 2+ sealant to adhere to a broader range of substrates such as plastics, concrete, and high-end metal finishes such as brass and copper. Also, the odor of a neutral cure silicone such as GE Silicone 2+ sealant is much less pronounced than an acid or acetoxy cure silicone such as GE Silicone 1 sealant.What can I use to make the curing time longer, or to thin the caulk/sealant?
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, we do not recommend attempting to thin caulk/sealant at home. You should choose the product best suited for your application. If you are an industrial customer, contact a customer service representative at 1-866-275-4372 for detailed information.
The silicone sealant is hard in the tube. What should I do?
If the silicone sealant is hard in the tube, it has cured (dried completely). It cannot be used and it most likely has passed its "Use By" date. If the "Use By" date has not been exceeded, the sealant should be returned to the hardware store or retailer for a refund. On a 10.1-oz cartridge, you can find the "Use By" date close to the bottom of the cartridge, and on a 2.8-oz squeeze tube, it is located at the top of the tube, usually above the hole punched out to hang the tube for display. Make sure to check the date prior to purchasing sealant.The silicone sealant will not cure. What should I do?
How do I remove silicone sealant?
Silicone sealant generally cures within 24 hours. If it has been over 24 hours, check the silicone sealant "Use By" date on the package. If the product is older than the "Use by" date printed on the product, safely dispose of the product. If the product was applied prior to that date, contact a customer service representative at 1-866-275-4372 for a complete refund. Be sure to have the sealant so the following information can be provided to the customer service representative:
- Stock number: The stock number is most easily found near the last four digits of the UPC. It is located on the cartridges at the very bottom line of text, to the right of the UPC.
- Batch code: This is ink-jet printed on the bottom of the cartridge, or stamped into the top of the squeeze tube.
- Description of the type of sealant
Uncured Silicone SealantWhat if the silicone sealant skins before I can tool it?
Remove (scrape, wipe, dig out, etc.) the uncured sealant and then scrub the area down with isopropyl alcohol (IPA) to remove any remaining oily residue. Only use solvents in a well-ventilated area and follow all safety precautions and instructions listed on the product label or as otherwise provided by the manufacturer. Safety Data Sheets for GE branded caulk and sealant products are available upon request from us at 1-518-237-3330. When solvents are used, proper safety precautions must be observed.
Cured Silicone Sealant
It is difficult to remove cured silicone from a surface. However, if you must remove it, follow the suggestions below. First, remove as much as possible by cutting/peeling/scraping excess caulk from the surface.
NOTE: We do not recommend use of a wire brush to remove sealant from wood surfaces, as doing so could damage the wood. Also, mineral spirits should not be used if the wood has any type of finish on it. Test solvent on a hidden area before applying.
- For ceramic tile, marble, Formica®, fiberglass, etc., use 100 percent mineral spirits (turpentine) and a non-abrasive scouring pad. Test the mineral spirits on a hidden area of the surface to ensure that discoloration will not occur. If discoloration does occur, contact the manufacturer of the surface for further assistance.
- For glass surfaces, carefully use a razor blade within a holder to remove as much as possible, then apply mineral spirits. Remove excess with a towel or other suitable cleaning utensil that will not mark the surface (such as a nonabrasive pad).
- For surfaces that are hard plastics or painted, use rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth. Do not use mineral spirits. Only use these solvents in a well-ventilated area and follow all safety precautions and instructions listed on the product label. When solvents are used, proper safety precautions must be observed.
- To remove sealant from a porous/rough surface (concrete, brick, wallpaper), remove as much of the sealant as possible (same as smooth surface). If necessary, use a wire brush in conjunction with mineral spirits.
Mineral spirits are flammable and should be used away from sparks, flames, and other sources of ignition. Only use these solvents in a well-ventilated area and follow all safety precautions and instructions listed on the product label. When solvents are used, proper safety precautions must be observed.
Special notes about silicone sealant: There is nothing that will dissolve silicone. If you are reapplying silicone to the area, remove the old sealant, and then clean the area with a disinfectant. If mold or mildew is present, apply rubbing alcohol. Let the area dry before reapplying silicone. Do not use soap to clean surfaces to be sealed because silicone will not adhere to surfaces covered with any soap scum present.
Work with smaller sections. For example, run a 2-foot bead, stop, tool it, and continue by applying another 2 feet.Can sealant freeze in the tube?
GE Silicone 2+ sealant and GE Silicone 1 sealant will not freeze in the cartridge; however, for best results, it should be applied at room temperature. However, water-based acrylic caulks and sealants will freeze below 32° F. If the acrylic caulk or sealant freezes before you use it, simply thaw at room temperature and test before application. In either case, if you are concerned, make sure you test the caulk before application.I followed the instructions on the back of the tube; however, the sealant is taking a very long time to cure.
The air temperature and humidity in the air can affect how long a silicone sealant takes to cure or an acrylic caulk/sealant to dry. A silicone sealant will cure slower when it is cool and the air is dry (low humidity). An acrylic caulk/sealant will dry slower when it is cooler out or more humid. Make sure to vary your wait time based on the humidity level.