Drafty windows can make a home cold, damp and uncomfortable — and make your home heating bills skyrocket in the fall and winter months. In some cases, you can fix a draft with a few basic supplies. Sometimes, however, the only fix for a drafty window is total replacement.
Quick Fixes for a Drafty Window
If your windows rattle in the wind, or you can’t leave mail on your table without worrying about it blowing away in a gust of brittle air, it’s definitely time to address the problem. Windows get drafty for a number of reasons, including age, cracked glazing putty and worn out weather stripping.
The good news is you can often fix these problems with a little elbow grease and a trip to the hardware store.
V-Seal Weather Stripping – Many homeowners like v-seal weather stripping because it’s available in a variety of lengths and widths and installs in a few easy steps. It’s also easy to remove once the cold weather has passed.
Rope Caulk – Sometimes called “finger rope caulk,” rope caulk is exactly what it sounds like: a long ropelike strip of putty that can be molded to fill gaps and cracks. Rope caulk is ideal for small gaps, as well as providing an extra level of insulation in particularly frigid weather.
Shrink Film – Shrink and seal wrap comes in thin, transparent sheets that fit around the inside of your window. Once the sheet is in place, you use a hairdryer to shrink and tauten it, then trim the excess. The downside of shrink film is that the window can’t be opened while the film is in place.
If you’re looking for a more substantial fix but aren’t ready to opt for a full replacement, there is a middle ground between inexpensive stopgap measures and a completely new window. Window inserts—also called interior storm windows—are made from either plexiglass or acrylic sheets set into a frame of compression tubing. These products are designed to fit into the existing window frame over the sashes and cost about half as much as a new window. The downside is that they have to be removed before the window can be opened.
Tip: Not quite sure where the draft is coming from? It’s not always easy to pinpoint a draft. If you’ve tried to locate the draft to no avail, try burning some incense. Hold the incense stick near your window and move it around the edges. If the smoke sputters, flutters, or wafts toward you, you know you’ve got an entry point for a draft. You can also call a window service to check for drafts and perform a general inspection.
5 Signs You Need New Windows
While quick fixes work well in some situations, they aren’t a good solution for every home. In some cases, it’s better to replace your windows rather than attempt to fix a draft. Here are five things to keep in mind before you call a window service:
1. Your Energy Bills Keep Going Up
Your home heating bill is a good indicator of your windows’ efficiency. Track your heating bills over several months — the longer the better — and compare them over time. If your bill keeps spiraling upward, you may be losing heat through your windows. Of course, there are other possibilities as well, including an aging refrigerator, an electric furnace with clogged filters, a water heater set too high, and drafty doors. A home energy audit can help you narrow down the culprits and offer solutions to minimize energy inefficiencies.
2. Your Windows Stick
Anyone who has ever wrestled with a stuck window knows how frustrating it can be. A window that sticks and fails to operate properly is most likely not very efficient. Chances are, heat is escaping through cracks and gaps around the frame. Another drawback to poorly operating windows is that it makes it difficult or impossible to open the window wide enough to get good cross ventilation inside your home. Poorly ventilated inside air can become ladened with respiratory irritants such as pet dander, dust, and off-gassing from carpets, furniture, and mattresses.
3. Leaky Windows
Check your windows inside and out for rotting or crumbling frames. This is a strong sign that moisture is making its way inside your home through your windows — something that can lead to serious mold problems inside. Other than an obvious rivulet of water running down from the window frame, other indications of a leak include mold and mildew growth, soft plaster, blistered paint, wall stains, and high humidity levels. It’s also a good idea to check the floor directly below a window for signs of current or past seepages such as a damp carpet or warped floorboards.
4. Noisy Windows
Moisture is obviously a key concern when it comes to your home’s windows, but noise can also be a source of irritation. Single-pane and even lower quality double-pane windows can let in excessive noise. If your windows fail to keep outside noises from intruding inside your home, it may be time to call a window service. Windows can also produce popping and creaking noises, especially aluminum-clad frames that constantly expand and contract as they heat and cool. If your windows have been grumbling more and more often, it could be an indication that they’ve warped over time.
Condensation on the outside of your home’s windows is generally common in the winter and not something you need to be concerned about. However, condensation that forms on the inside or between the panes can be a sign that your windows are no longer properly sealed. What’s more, double-pane windows have a layer of desiccant sandwiched between the glass that absorbs excess moisture. If you’re noticing condensation inside the panes, it means the desiccant is saturated to the point where it no longer works, which in turn means the seal has been broken for quite some time.
Call Nu Look Home Design to Learn More
Are your home’s windows nearing the end of their lifespan? Call us today to find out how you can save on new windows. We offer and install ENERGY STAR®-certified ProVia vinyl windows that will not only enhance your home’s curb appeal, but also its security, value, and energy efficiency!