Winter is usually associated with cold drafts, but it’s actually spring winds that create the most noticeable drafts in a home. As a full-service restoration company serving the Cincinnati area, we are accustomed to isolating and fixing drafty windows. Sometimes it turns into a window replacement project, but often a window’s draft can be fixed quite simply.
When tackling this annoying and costly problem, the first thing to do is find the source.
Locating the Leak
Determining which window(s) are working against you can be tricky. But we have a tip to make it easier! Perceived drafts and actual air leaks can be similar. AC vents may mimic the appearance of a window draft, and old single-pane windows often emanate cold so much that it feels like a draft.
Our favorite trick is an oldie but a goodie: Candle flame! This easy method can detect if you have a draft in your home and where it’s coming from. Before you light the candle, make sure all windows in your home are closed and locked. Then make sure your central air is turned off. Next, light a candle and hold it next to each window, moving the candle near the seam. If the flame flickers, then you most likely have an air leak.
DIY Fixes to Save Money on Replacing Drafty Windows
There are several low-cost ways to tackle an air leak; some are temporary fixes, while others are more permanent solutions.
- Caulking – Tubes of caulk are inexpensive and, with practice, become easier to use. Make sure you caulk the window inside and outside, where the window meets the casing and where the casing meets the wall or siding material.
- Weather stripping – This option is more affordable, and an easy solution for those who love to DIY. You can purchase the material for a few dollars per window at your hardware store of choice. Cut the strips to size, and fill the gaps between the window sash and jamb.
- Curtains – You may think curtains are just for looks and keeping out the sun, but they are also useful for insulation. Replacing lightweight curtains with a heavier material can help your curtains act as a trap, catching air between the layers of fabric to provide insulation.
- Draft snakes – This product is a fabric tube, which can be placed on the windowsill or under a door to keep out chilly air. This is our least favorite option, but may be the right one for you
Replacing vs. Fixing Drafty Windows
Replacing your windows can be a little pricey; but installing the right windows can increase the value of your home. For instance, Energy Star windows can lower your bills by 7 to 15%. Only a trusted professional window installer who can pinpoint and correct or minimize drafts—as well as create a tighter seal around the window—should replace your windows. Here are a few common types of window vulnerabilities that you should be on the lookout for:
- Single–pane windows – Older, single-pane windows are the least energy efficient and usually allow heat to escape.
- Hinge and lock defects – If your windows do not open or close properly, it is usually a sign they are ready to be replaced.
- Irregular condensation – Condensation between windowpanes means your windows are not functioning properly. If one window gets more condensation than others, it may have an issue as well.