Sitting on my couch last night, I could not only hear the wind howling, but feel it too. I went to my living room window and discovered a draft around one of them. Luckily, I am married to a contractor, so I had him fix the leak. However, I got to thinking about my clients who may have the access, money or time to devote to hiring someone, so I thought I would pass on a few tips to help those who want to fix the leaks themselves.
Check for air leaks
With windows and doors closed, hold a candle or stick of incense near window and door frames where drafts might sneak in. Watch for movement and make a note where you need caulk, sealant, and weather-stripping.
Seal air leaks around windows
If you have old windows, caulking and adding new weatherstripping goes a long way toward tightening them up.
- Bronze weatherstripping ($12 for 17 feet) lasts for decades but is time-consuming to install.
- Self-stick plastic types are easy to put on but don’t last very long.
- Adhesive-backed EPDM rubber ($8 for 10 feet) is a good compromise, rated to last at least 10 years.
Nifty gadgets called pulley seals ($9 a pair) block air from streaming though the holes where cords disappear into the frames.
Seal air leaks around doors
Check for air leaks, and replace old door weatherstripping with new.
- Foam-type tape has an adhesive backing; it’s inexpensive and easy to install. If it comes loose, reinforce it with staples.
- Felt is either adhesive-backed or comes with flexible metal reinforcement. it must be tacked or glued into place. It’s cheap and easy to install, but it has low durability.
- Tubular rubber, vinyl, and silicone weatherstripping is relatively expensive and tricky to install, but it provides an excellent seal. Some types come with a flange designed to fit into pre-cut grooves in the jambs of newer doors; check your existing weatherstripping and replace with a similar style.
Check exterior trim for any gaps between the trim and your door frames, and the trim and your siding. Caulk gaps with an exterior latex caulk ($5 for a 10-ounce tube).
Seal door bottoms
If a draft comes in at the bottom, check the condition of the threshold gasket. Replace worn gaskets. If you can see daylight under the door, you may need to install a new threshold with a taller gasket ($25 for a 36-inch door). Or, install a weather-resistant door sweep designed for exterior doors ($9). Door sweeps attach directly to the door and are easy to install.