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Minimize Energy Loss in Your Commercial Building

Drafty Buildings

If your building is starting to show signs of age, is feeling drafty, and your utilities seem to be at an all-time high, chances are it may be time to take a closer look at some of the causes and solutions.

Aging buildings settle, creating cracks and openings that allow heating or cooling to escape. Other areas that start showing age are windows and doors, where caulking has dried, cracked, and fallen out, no longer providing a proper seal. Additionally, doors may not close properly or "hang up" when closing, as the building shifts, allowing drafts and running up your utility costs. Left unattended, these cracks can develop into gaps as the wood dries out or masonry disintegrates, inviting insects and becoming mold growth-friendly. This will lead to other problems such as mildew in the walls and infestations.

high-rise apartment buildings

The Importance of Taking Care of a Drafty Building

Taking care of these cracks while they are small will benefit you down the road. There are many steps you can take to improve your building's heating and cooling without spending a fortune.

One of the first things to do before starting any repairs or renovations is to do a thermal scan of your building. Many companies now use drones for this task, completing the task quickly and efficiently. You will need indoor thermal images as well. These scans will reveal where your greatest energy losses are, identify air leaks, and drafty areas, thereby allowing you to properly focus on each type of issue.

Large Areas Equal Large Heating and Cooling Loss

It should come as no surprise that one of the most inefficient areas of your building is the roof, where you can lose upwards of 25% of your heating and cooling.

Once again, if your building has some age to it, chances are that the insulation is now inefficient, and what was there has likely settled, rendering it ineffective. Check the seals around the roof vent and AC penetrations for dried, cracked sealant. The same goes for any skylights: due to building shifts, they may have warped or cracked their seals as well and may need to be resealed or replaced with more efficient units.

Thanks to some of the newest innovations, we now have superior building materials that are highly energy efficient and very affordable. Any steps you take to mitigate drafts and leaks will improve your building's energy efficiency and add to its longevity.

Fix Your Drafty Building

Choose the Type of Caulk/Sealant for Your Project

Hardware stores offer a huge assortment of caulks and sealants. Each is formulated to work best with a specific medium, i.e. vinyl, wood, concrete, etc. Caulk also comes in a variety of colors to help give your project a polished look. Choose the right material for the job for a successful project. These different materials may include:

  • Water-based caulk – used to fill gaps in baseboard and trim
  • Vinyl latex caulk – effective on small cracks
  • Acrylic latex caulk – general-purpose caulk
  • Vinyl latex caulks – best on wood and masonry; effective for 10 to 15 years.
  • Siliconized Acrylic Caulk – combines silicone with acrylic latex formulas for improved water resistance, interior or exterior use, life expectancy 25-35 years
  • Silicone Caulk – resists mold and mildew, adheres to smooth surfaces (e.g. metal, glass, and tile), does not adhere to masonry, cannot be painted
  • Polyurethane Foam – used around electrical outputs, pipe penetrations, and in openings where the elements can infiltrate a structure, good for insulation
  • Synthetic Rubber Caulk – one of the most versatile products on the market, ideal for exterior joints, wood siding, excellent to use on roofs
  • Modified Silicone Polymers – a unique blend of silicone, polyurethane, and water-based products, providing permanent flexibility, performs excellent on fiber, cement, vinyl, wood siding, and aluminum, used to caulk around exterior windows, doors, and vents
  • Butyl rubber caulking – long-lasting, well-suited for making metal-to-masonry joints

Fix the Roof

Your roof plays a huge role in your energy costs if there's any energy lost. Apply a sealant to retain regulated temperatures, but do the following:

  • Be sure to use a waterproof external caulk/sealant
  • Allow roof to dry completely before applying the sealant

Fix Your Windows and Doors

By caulking cracks and using weather-strip to fill the spaces around doors and windows, you can seal out the elements and weather.

  • Start by filling any cracks wider than a ½" with a hemp fiber called oakum (used to seal boat seams), then caulk
  • Weather-strip around windows and doors. Adjust the hydraulics or electronic sensors on automatic doors to open and close fully every time
  • Install a door sweep to weather-strip the bottom of a door

While smaller buildings are more manageable with these type of repairs, if your larger commercial building is drafty and your energy costs are high, contact the professionals at Major Painting Company. We'll help you determine whether a proper caulking or sealant repair will benefit your utility expenditures in any season.

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