Why Water is your Home’s Biggest Enemy and Caulking is Your Best Friend

I went to visit my mother last week. We sipped tea and talked about the latest news and events. My mom likes to express her opinions by using proverbs. Her inventory is quite astounding. If people are not barking up the wrong tree or making mountains out of molehills, they are putting carts before horses or all their eggs in one basket.

If my mother were a home inspector, here is what she would tell all her clients: A stitch in time saves nine;
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; Penny wise, pound foolish.

Forget about the math or the ratios. I’m not really sure how many pennies are in a pound, anyway. The key point here is that if you take care of problems early, it will cost you less. If you ignore problems, it will cost you more. A lot more. It’s that simple!

We will get back to the proverbs later. Right now, since this is an advice column, today’s advice is: Water is your house’s biggest enemy.

Unfortunately for your house, only one unsealed crack with water infiltration has potential to cause untolled damage to walls, floors and ceilings. Mildew and mould can take hold and affect indoor air quality and cause health problems. The worst case scenario has the structure rotting out and partial or full collapse of the building.

Being proactive about stopping water infiltration can help you to avoid thousands of dollars in costly repairs. Fortunately, there is something you can use that doesn’t cost much yet can make your house more watertight. It’s called caulk and it is unbeatable for sealing many cracks and small gaps. There may be locations around your home that could benefit from new caulk such as the bathtub, shower, windows, doors; basically anywhere that water can get in.

A Miracle Tool: Caulking

Caulk is relatively cheap and easy to install and is effective at stopping water from damaging your house. Good quality caulk can last 20 years or more. You may be surprised how many types of caulks and sealers are available. Each type is formulated for a particular purpose; so it is very important that you find out which is best for your situation.

Other than the caulk itself, you will need a caulking gun. One of the more irritating problems I have when using a caulking gun is messy drips. For my last caulking job, I purchased a better quality gun with an automatic no-drip feature and it eliminated the problem. I was so excited about my wonderful new tool that I went to share the joy with my wife. She was definitely not as thrilled as I was.

Caulk isn’t good everywhere. Be careful when caulking outside, as sometimes there are holes that are designed to drain water; i.e. they are supposed to be there. These holes allow water to escape from windows and from behind siding or brick veneer. If you caulk drainage holes, you might cause water infiltration rather than prevent it. If you aren’t sure, it’s a good idea to get some expert advice first.

Sometimes there is a window within the splash zone of a bathtub/shower. This window opening is a high risk area for water infiltration and needs to be checked carefully. The sill area gets a double shot of water; splashes from the shower and condensation from the window, especially in winter. Sealing every crack and corner here is important because excess water has a chance of leaking directly into the wall cavity, leading to rot of the structure. Some people wisely install a second shower curtain over the window for added protection.

Other than providing a moisture barrier, caulk can also reduce drafts, improve energy efficiency, prevent insects from entering your house and provide an attractive finishing touch. Considering the relatively low cost, it’s one of the best improvements you can make to your home from a cost / benefit standpoint.

Finally, let’s return to the proverbs. I suppose we could say: “To caulk in time, keeps the house fine”. Okay that’s pretty bad, but I invite you to devise some new ones and write them in the comments.

Paul Yeadon is a professional home inspector. A former member of the Mose team now pursuing other avenues in the San Francisco, California, area.

Mose Home Inspection Services
4.9
Based on 339 reviews
powered by Google
Lay Chan Wee
Lay Chan Wee
01:19 31 Aug 21
I was impressed with the service provided by Rui Su. He was organized, explained in detail area that I am not familiar... with. He provided a good report. I will recommend him if you need home inspection.read more
Mary Jane Caro
Mary Jane Caro
14:25 27 Aug 21
I am always pleased to recommend Carol Mose from Mose Home Inspection Services to my clients who have had offers... accepted on residential real estate properties. She is knowledgeable, thorough, provides clear explanations, and delivers comprehensive reports.read more
Massimo Pannunzio
Massimo Pannunzio
22:05 25 Aug 21
Michael has got to be on of the best home inspectors in all of Quebec. It was amazing working with him and he had my... best interest at heart when making a life changing decision. He made sure I had all the answers and made it easy to work with him. I will be using Mose inspection for any moment that I need an inspection done that's for sure!read more
Amanda Lee
Amanda Lee
19:14 16 Jun 21
Amazing experience with Carol Mose who helped me with a pre-purchase inspection! She was very approachable and... observant, and informed me of all her first impressions on-site. This gave me greater understanding of any conditions as I was able to ask any quick questions on the spot. Her reports are the most thorough that I've seen and include diagrams to help explain what any physical signs mean and potential consequences. Could not have asked for a better inspector!read more
Maeghan Banks
Maeghan Banks
15:38 14 Jun 21
Carol was wonderful to work with for our pre-purchase inspection. She was professional, thorough and communicative,... taking the time to explain her findings as we went through the house. After the inspection, we felt we had clear knowledge of the condition of the house (both pros and cons), allowing us to move forward with the purchase with confidence. Highly recommend!read more
Ryan Chalupovitsch
Ryan Chalupovitsch
13:43 01 Jun 21
Carol Mose is the best home inspector in the business. Approachable and extremely knowledgeable. She did an... inspection for me and really took the time to explain her findings and help me understand the home I was looking to purchase. Cannot recommend her enough. Don’t hesitate.read more
Elisabeth Faure
Elisabeth Faure
21:16 29 Apr 21
This is the second time I have used MOSE, and they are always really amazing. Very nice, very professional. they came... to have a look at my roof and let me know if we were due for a repair - I was very satisfied with everything and would recommend them to anybody!read more
Hannah S
Hannah S
22:05 16 Apr 21
I had a great experience with Mose home inspection. My husband and I are first time homebuyers and so had a ton of... questions about the process. Everyone we talked with was really informative and helpful. Michael was our inspector and was phenomenal. The inspection was very thorough and he explained everything in detail with realistic next steps for us to take. We came out of the inspection feeling really informed. Plus, he is just an absolute delight! He had very contagious enthusiasm and made the inspection a really positive experience. Would highly recommend!read more
Gabriel Lukuc
Gabriel Lukuc
03:05 16 Apr 21
Michael was amazing. He took the time to explain to us what’s really important and the reasoning behind it. We’re not... very handy nor savvy when it comes to home construction so we really appreciate him taking the time to explain to us all aspects of the inspection. Also, Michael was friendly, professional and timely; he provided the report over a holiday and a weekend.read more
Stephanie Ballard
Stephanie Ballard
14:24 19 Mar 21
MOSE is the best in the business. Once again we were happy with their inspection services - they are professional,... friendly and knowledgeable. Would not hesitate to recommend to friends and family (and have)!read more
Rodrigo Morales
Rodrigo Morales
18:27 10 Sep 20
Home inspection
Next Reviews