Dear James: I noticed a draft coming in through a few of my windows, even though I recently had the weatherstripping replaced. I am afraid my heating bills are going to get very high this year. What can I do to seal these leaks? — Larry H.

Dear Larry: The new weatherstripping should have sealed most of the leaks through the window joints. It sounds like you have some leaky joints around your windows where they are set into the wall opening. This is not uncommon because caulk does deteriorate and become leaky over time.

The key to an effective caulking job is to remove as much of the old caulk as possible. It is important that new caulk gets into the joint instead of just covering the surface of the old caulk. Use a putty knife to scrape out the old caulk. If it is difficult to remove, as it often is, use a heat gun or hair blow dryer to soften the old caulk.

Different types of caulks have different uses, so check with your local hardware store to find out what type will work best for your specific application. Makes sure to tell the salesperson whether or not you plan to paint over the caulk because this will impact the acceptable types.

To apply the caulk to your windows, first make sure you have a medium- to high-quality caulking gun. This is an important part in laying a smooth, straight bead of caulk of even width. The relative price of caulking guns is a good indication of their quality.

A good-quality caulking gun typically has either finer teeth on the pushrod or some other method for forcing out the caulk. This provides more control over the amount of caulk coming out as you slowing more across the joint you are trying to seal. To effectively use a low-quality caulking gun, you need better hand/eye coordination to avoid lumping.

First insert the caulking cartridge into the gun shell. Cut the plastic nozzle at the end in a 30- to 45-degree angle with a razor. Since the tip is tapered, you will have to do some guesswork when figuring out the width you want to hole to be. The tip of the tube should be slightly smaller than the size of the gap you are filling.

To apply the caulk, pull the trigger on the gun so it mounds up slightly over the gap. Continue pulling the trigger and slowly move the caulking gun along the gap. You will quickly determine the best pace to move the gun.

For the most even caulking bead, use a consistent angle and a continuous motion. Don’t start and stop because this will cause excess caulk to ooze out. It is best to release the trigger before you pull the gun away from the area.

A water-based caulk can be smoothed out by dipping your finger in some water and then running it over the bead of caulk. Using a damp rag or a tile grout sponge also works. For other types of caulk, check the instruction of the tube.

If there is any caulk left in the tube after you have finished all the jobs put a nail or golf tee in the nozzle. This will help keep the caulk fresh until it is time for you next caulking adventure.

— Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at