No matter how efficient your heating system is, air leaks in your home’s envelope, particularly around doors and windows, can have a major impact on your comfort level and your energy bills. Leaky windows and doors make your heating system work harder to compensate for heat loss and the infiltration of cold air, and air leaks can make areas in your home cold and drafty. Sealing around doors and windows is essential for cold weather comfort and savings.
Detecting Air Leaks
Even tiny cracks and gaps around windows and doors that are undetectable with the naked eye can cost you money and chill your bones. To find air leaks, close your exterior doors and windows on a windy day and pass a lit stick of incense around them. Where the smoke wavers, you have an air leak.
Sealing Air Leaks
There are several effective ways to seal air leaks using silicone caulk, weatherstripping, door sweeps, and plastic insulation sheeting.
Seal leaks around window and door frames with caulk. Clean the surfaces with a damp cloth and let them dry thoroughly. Hold the tube of caulk at a 45-degree angle and apply it in long, smooth strokes to where the frames meet the wall. Using your finger or a putty knife, gently smooth the caulk so that it creates a firm seal on both sides of the surface.
For leaks between the movable components of doors and windows, install weatherstripping, which is available in a number of different materials, including inexpensive foam and pricier, but more effective, metal and vinyl.
Apply the weatherstripping to both sides of doorjambs and between the sashes and frames of windows. Make sure the corners fit together snugly, and firmly press down the lengths of weatherstripping to create a tight seal.
Install door sweeps on the bottoms of exterior doors to keep cold air from entering through the gap between the door and the threshold.
Window insulator kits are inexpensive and effective for sealing particularly drafty windows. Kits feature plastic and double-sided tape that you apply around the perimeter of the window frame. Wipe the surface where the tape will go with a damp cloth or an alcohol wipe, which may be included in the kit. Let the surface dry thoroughly before applying the tape. Press down firmly along the length of the tape for a tight seal before removing the paper backing. Cut the plastic sheeting to size, adding a couple of inches to the actual dimensions, adhere it to the tape, and press very firmly all the way around. Use a blow dryer to shrink the plastic for a tight, wrinkle-free, and virtually invisible air barrier.
Consider New Windows
If your windows are very old or leaky, investing in new energy efficient windows can save you a bundle on energy costs. Likewise, shoring up insulation in the wall cavities around windows can keep your home warmer and reduce some of the heating load on your furnace or heat pump.
A tightly sealed home is essential for energy efficiency. For more expert tips on detecting and sealing air leaks in the home, please feel free to contact us at Comfort Control, Inc.