- Posted by Hinged
The first winter we spent in our new, old house it was so drafty that on cold nights we had to sleep with hats on, candles blew out on their own, and ice formed on the inside of windows. We suffered through that first winter, but since then we have employed an array of remedies and now we’re cozy and warm.
The first round of defense for a drafty house is closing up the openings where the cold air is getting in. The biggest culprits causing most of your drafts are probably your doors and windows.
Outside Edges of Windows and Doors – Newer units come with an exterior flange that helps seal them around the outside, but older windows and doors just have the outside trim sealing them to your walls. Caulk around the sides. For windows and doors that have flashing or a drip cap at the top it is important not to caulk between the siding and the flashing or drip cap. Only apply caulk between the flashing and the unit. Caulking above the flashing can actually trap moisture behind your siding and lead to problems that are a lot worse than drafts. For the bottom of windows if there is flashing only caulk between the flashing and the siding. If there is no visible flashing, caulking between the unit and the siding is permissible.
Inner Components of Double Hung Windows – Double hung windows have two sashes that slide vertically up and down. For these windows to work, there has to be enough space between the sashes and between the sashes and the sides for them to slide by each other. All these moving parts mean that by design this type of window lets in a lot of air. New quality double hung windows have vinyl gaskets at the top and bottom of the sashes as well as a felt gasket between the two sashes. These windows rely on the locking mechanism to compress the gaskets creating an effective seal, so make sure everything is locked up tight for the winter. Over time the felt wears and the gaskets get compressed. Many manufacturers offer replacement parts, but if not, generic gaskets are available online and at most hardware stores. For older windows without gaskets, especially ones with only one layer of glass, you can consider storm windows. Another option that is less expensive is to apply a bead of caulk or putty around all the edges. The drawback of this option is that if you want to open the window next spring you will have to remove your handy work. You can also purchase kits online and at most hardware stores that let you seal them with a giant roll of saran wrap. These kits actual work pretty well and if installed carefully are barely noticeable. The drawback is that they’re not reusable and you will have to replace them every year.
Inner Components of Casement and Awning Windows – Windows that close with a cranking mechanism have gaskets and felts that are compressed by the locking mechanism. These sashes can sag over time, and are often difficult to lock. Carefully tapping on the outside of the sashes with a rubber mallet while prying upwards with a putty knife on the bottom corners usually does the trick to get them closed for the winter. Careful is the operative word as banging on a window with a hammer is a good way to break the glass. Fortunately, most manufacturers sell replacement sashes. If you’re feeling a draft after the locking mechanisms are engaged, it is probably time to replace the gaskets.
Sealing Doors Sides and Tops – The surest way to stop drafts around a door is to install a storm door. If this is not an option, there are a variety of gaskets and seals available. For the edges of doors, the simplest is a soft foam gasket that has a peel and stick tape on one side. When applying this type of gasket, test around the hinges and latches first to make sure they will fit and the door will still close before applying the peel and stick tape all the way around the opening. You may need to switch to a different size gasket to get a good seal without compromising functionality.
Sealing Doors at the Bottom – There are sweeps available for sealing the bottom of doors, but be sure to test that they won’t rub on your floor as the door opens. Installing a sill at your threshold will allow you to seal the gap with a gasket that won’t hit your floor. You may need to trim the bottom of the door to get this option to work.
Smaller Openings – Buy a tube of caulk as close to the color of the outside of your home as possible. Caulk around all the places where pipes and wires penetrate your siding. Faucets, dryer vents, utilities – caulk them all. Not only will this stop wind from blowing through, but it will also deter pests from crawling in. If the caulk doesn’t match perfectly, you can always touch it up with paint when the weather warms up.
Hinged has a Window repair category with scheduling access to service professionals who specialize in these types of installations so there is an easy alternative if you’re too busy or not sure about the best way to handle these improvements. One way or another, if you’re paying large heating bills and sleeping with a hat on, it’s time to get them done.