What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Winterizing Electrical Switches

It is extremely important with the ever increasing cost of home heating to continuously be on guard for any points of air leakage or infiltration. Sealing these cracks and crevices achieves a few goals. First it keeps cold air out and heated air inside. Eliminating the drafts make your home feel more comfortable as well. At the same time sealing these cracks can cut off a port of entry for insects and other critters.

unsealed electrical switchThe Problem

Electrical boxes on outer walls are often the source of drafts especially in older homes. It is also one of the easiest to remedy for very little cost and minimal DIY skills.

Materials Needed:
- flat head screwdriver
- latex caulk
- caulk gun
- switchplate and electric out foam weatherstrip
- wash cloth
- dry cloth
- soapy water

Before starting this project turn the breaker off to the electrical outlet and test to be sure the outlet is not live. Unscrew the plate cover and remove. This is a good time to wash up the plate cover while you have it off. The area of interest for sealing is the gap around the electrical box indicated the red arrow in the left side of the picture. Brush away any loose debris then wipe the surrounding area with soapy water. Dry thoroughly. Load the caulk into the caulk gun. Seal around the entire perimeter of the electrical box (right side). Do not seal inside the electrical box. Smooth the caulk. Allow the caulk to cure according to the caulk instructions (about 12 hrs).

sealed electrical switchWinterized

These outlet weatherstrips are to be used in dry locations only and cannot be used with dimmer switches. Once the caulk is cured, punch out the die cut areas of a switchplate or electric outlet weatherstrip. Place it over the outlet. Place the switch cover on the outlet and secure with the screws. Turn the power to the outlet back on.

From outer appearances you won't notice any changes. If you check the outlet when the wind is hitting that wall you will notice the outlet is no longer drafty. If you are diligent and seal every outlet on an outside wall throughout your house you will notice this winterizing by a more comfortable house and lower home heating costs. The weatherstrip comes in a package of 10 for about $1.99. A tube of latex caulk will cost about $2 but you likely won't go through the whole tube for this project. At under $4 this project has a pay back period of under one heating season. Once completed this project will continue to provide energy savings without having to replace for a number of years depending on the lifespan of caulk you use. For example if you use a 20 year durability latex caulk as we do, you can expect this winterizing project to last for that period of time.

Garden Gnome