I got out this weekend to seal all of the seams between the clapboards on our new house (built in 2004). Over the seasons, profes-sionals tell me, the original caulk weathers and falls out and it needs to be replaced in order to maintain energy efficiency in the times of high heating bills. I had quite a lot of seams to reseal, but I found other problems.
For instance, the exterior wooden window frame in these pictures is cracking at the base most likely because of water penetration during our wet winter last year. My layperson's guess is that the water penetrated at a joint near the screen channel behind the board (see bottom picture) that wasn't adequately caulked by the builder. As you can see, the wood cracked underneath the latex acrylic paint, which would have otherwise water-proofed the wood.
The lesson: the damage from one exposed seam can spread and grow quickly. I hope that I caught this before more damage beyond buckled and cracked wood resulted. I sealed both the crack and the seams around with caulk. And I will spot repaint. We'll see if that nips the problem. If not, then I may have to replace the entire board itself.
Even if you own a new house, you should check all wooden seams to be sure that moisture cannot find an opening to work its way in and do some damage. Even the most honest builders overlook such details in their effort to finish on time. Winterize now or regret not doing so later!