Fresh air is a good thing every now and again, but the last thing you want is a draft that continuously lowers the temperature of a room. Window drafts not only cause discomfort, those drafts can rapidly increase the cost of heating and cooling. No one wants to have to deal with this issue, so it is better to know how to stop window drafts before they begin.
But what causes drafty windows to begin with?
Common Causes of Drafty Windows
In order to properly fix a problem, you need to get to the root of it. Otherwise, you are just putting a Band-Aid on an open wound—it does nothing in the end. There are a few major causes of drafty windows, but the reason for your household’s draft could be a combination of the reasons listed below.
Window Seal Issues
One of the most prevalent factors of window drafts is the window seal. When the seal in a double or triple pane window fails to seal properly, the argon gas that is between the panels will escape. Energy efficiency will plummet, and you will start to feel a draft.
Window seals can break for the following reasons:
- Normal weathering and wear
- Poor installation
- Cheap materials
- Seals had broken during shipment
- Exposure to extreme weather and temperatures – this usually happens when the windows are made for your specific climate
- Mold build-up
As with anything that requires a professional to do the job, faulty installation will cause multiple problems. For instance, if the contractor doesn’t fit the window properly in the opening or fails to seal the window entirely, the gaps around the frame could cause a draft. Remember: Installing windows should never be a DIY project.
Cracked Window Caulking
After windows are installed, caulk is applied to the frame where the siding meets the window. The caulk eventually dries to fill in the spaces left behind, thereby blocking excess air from entering and leaving the building. Should the caulk crack or chip away, these tiny spaces will become a way for outside air to enter and inside air to escape.
Caulk does not last forever. Over time, it will get brittle from expanding and contracting with temperature fluctuations.
Do annual checks to make sure your window caulk is up to spec. Unfortunately, caulking problems or cracks are not easily detectable. You will need to feel around the caulk for air currents. Replace any caulk around places where you feel a rush of air.
Old, Inefficient Windows
Sometimes, windows that have aged will get drafts. Other times, it is because they are inefficient or not made for your region. Then, you have the old windows that were not made to be energy efficient. One example of this would be wooden or aluminum windows not being as energy-smart as newer vinyl window models. Because of this, wooden and aluminum models tend to develop drafts much sooner.
Old wooden windows will warp after continuous exposure to moisture. You might begin to see gaps form around the window frame.
Earlier window models may only have a single pane. For increase energy efficiency, consider installing double or triple pane windows that are filled with argon gas, since that will help with keeping air inside your home.
Temporary Solutions for Drafty Windows
Now that you are aware that window drafts can come from old, inefficient windows; caulking issues; cracks or warping around the frame; and improper installation, you can begin to consider how to tackle drafty windows. Although temporary solutions are by no means going to be 100% effective, you can use cost-effective options to help you get through the hottest or coldest months.
When you can, consider replacing your drafty windows for good.
A storm window is much like a screened storm door. They can be installed on the outside of your existing windows and act as a barrier or as insulation. The problem here is that storm windows do not stop the draft. They only decrease the amount of outside air flowing into your home.
Although most people will think of draft stoppers as the rectangular pillow-like objects that go in front of doors, you can use them on windows too. Draft stoppers don’t stop drafts completely, though, since air cannot be effectively blocked by a pillow. But it is a quick remedy, especially in colder months.
Plastic Window Wraps
One of the highly-rated temporary solutions is plastic wrapping that is applied to the interior glass surface of the window. Though plastic wrap lasts a single season and may need to be replaced multiple times during extreme weather, it is easy to apply and not very costly.
Repairing or Replacing Drafty Windows
If you truly want to put an end to drafty windows, then you need to invest in new windows. That is the only way you can stop the draft and increase the energy efficiency of your home once and for all.
The recommended option is vinyl, since they are more durable than wood or aluminum, have enhanced insulation, and can also have double or triple panes or e-glass. The foam insulation in the frame ensures a tighter fit, but only vinyl windows come with this feature.
New windows are one of the best investments you will ever make.
Drafty windows can be causes by a number of problems, like cracking caulk and failed seals. Whether you choose to use a temporary fix right now or invest in new windows, there are ways to stop window drafts from making your home uncomfortable. Make sure you are doing maintenance on your windows, too, so you can catch problems before they begin.
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