Our Real Estate Blog
If you've ever traveled through the United Kingdom, the phrase "mind the gap" conjured up trips across London's Underground or disembodied voices calling out the warning as your elevator doors open or close. It's wise to heed those voices since gaps between an elevator, and the floor of an older building could be wider than you expect, and trains don't touch the sides of the platforms, so you could step off into thin air if you lead with your heel.
Other gaps need mending as well. When it comes to your home, gaps can cause the most lost to energy efficiency.
- Door gaps. If your exterior doors do not line up in the frame, you’ll have gaps around the door and jamb that allow cold air to leak in during the winter, raising your heating bills, and warm air to radiate in during the summer, jacking up your air conditioning bills. Adjust your door so that it fits snugly in the frame. Most modern thresholds and door shoes (the rubber or vinyl cushion on the bottom of the exterior door) can adjust to fill the gaps. If space remains, use weather stripping to fill it in. If the gap is in the jamb or frame, caulk should do the trick.
- Window spaces. Energy efficient windows should not have gaps, so if yours do, contact the manufacturer to see if they are reparable under warranty. Older windows, just like doors, may have crevices due to poor installation, shrinkage, or age-related misalignment. Where gaps are not correctable with weather strip or caulk, consider budgeting to replace them. NOTE: do not seal a bedroom window shut. Bedroom windows must offer egress in case of a fire or other emergency.
- Roof gaps. As the roof gets older, spaces may form from movement in the home's walls and foundation. If your roof leaks, there is a gap someplace, and a professional roofer should be your first call. Leaving a roof leak can damage your entire home and weaken its structure.
- Indoor gaps. One of the most frustrating gaps appearing in the kitchen is one between the stove and the countertop next to it. These gaps become filled with gunk and debris. If yours is a built-in range, close the gap with caulk. If, however, you have a freestanding range, look for countertop extenders or gap-fillers at your local hardware or DIY store or search online for silicone counter gap guards or spill guards.
- Backsplash gaps. If your kitchen or bath backsplash has separated from the countertop, fill the gap with a waterproof caulk immediately. Water running between the counter and the backsplash can cause considerable damage to counters, walls, cabinets, and even subflooring if the water finds its way down the pipes.
If you think you may have energy-leaking gaps in your home, check with your local utility to see if they provide a free energy assessment. Repairing gaps protects your home and maintains your home’s value.