With winter just around the corner, homeowners want to ensure that the money they’re spending in keeping their living space comfortable is not just “blowing out the window”. Poorly sealed windows and doors are a leading cause for wasted energy and higher heating and cooling bills.
Before deciding to fix all drafty windows around your home, you first need to find out if and where the leaks are coming from. On a cold or windy day, hold a tissue (piece of toilet paper also works) near the window frames and if it flutters, there's a leak. Short of replacing your windows with more energy-efficient ones, try these quick fixes to stop air leaks.
After having spotted air leakage, assess the condition of your windows. Do they have any defects like loose joints, warps or cracks in the glass? Is the weather-stripping damaged or worn-out? Is there rot or faulty hardware? Does it close properly? Any of these things can contribute to a drafty window.
Applying new window caulking is a great first step when the window or door appears to be in good condition. There are three places where you can apply caulk: around the window trim, at mitered joints of the trim and between the trim and frame. A nontoxic, indoor latex caulk is your best bet.
Make sure you clean the window area first and that it's free from dust and old paint or caulk. You might have to remove the window trim to fill in the gaps between the wall and frame with fiberglass insulation. Once you've done this and replaced the trim, caulk any gaps between the window and wall.
Use weather-stripping to block drafts by creating a tight seal where the window or door opens. It's often made of foam and attaches directly to the closing edge of a window or door. Weather-stripping is inexpensive and can be found at most hardware stores, so it's something most homeowners can DIY.
Covering a drafty window with cellular shades, layered curtains or draft snakes can help homeowners block the drafts. Cellular shades let in light and have an insulating value, while layered curtains help keep drafts out and keep warm air in. You can buy a draft snake or make one by sewing a tube of fabric and filling it with rice, then using it along windowsills.
Adding interior storm windows during the winter months is another alternative. Storm windows act as an extra layer of insulation and attach directly to the window frame to reduce air leaks. If you can't seem to stop your window drafts, consider a home energy audit. A professional energy auditor will come to your house and use special tools, such as an infrared camera or blower door test, to determine all points of air infiltration and make recommendations to correct problems, such as adding insulation or replacing drafty windows.
If you have any questions concerning today’s blog, or our home inspection training course, contact us!