Caring For Your Home In Autumn: Drafty Windows


     Temperature wise, we have been very lucky these past few months. Although we haven't quite felt the bitter cold, winter will soon be upon us. Some neighbors, especially the suburbs north of Philly, are probably already feeling the chill from drafty doors and windows. Before the air really freezes up, take the time now to find and repair leaks in cracked window frames. A window that leaks air can also mean excessive energy loss and therefore, higher energy bills. You can test a window for leaks by burning an incense stick near all the window's joints and connections. Move the incense along where one section of the window meets another, where the window meets the frame, and where the frame meets the wall. If the smoke flickers, you have an air leak.

     The two main methods to seal these leaks are by caulking and weatherstripping. Windows often leak as a result from deterioration in the connection between the window frame and exterior wall. To prevent leaks or repair, caulk the window where it meets the wall.  Don't forget to check the top side of the trim, water puddling can be a major cause of leakage. If you have a wooden frame or trim, use a high-grade polyurethane caulk. If you have metal or vinyl frames, check the drain hole on the bottom of the outdoor frame. Drain or "weep" holes prevent flooding inside the frame. Use a piece of wire or screwdriver to make sure they are clear.

     Weatherstripping can also prevent leaks, and may also need to be replaced yearly. You most likely will have to remove the operable portion of your window to locate the weather stripping. For sliding windows, open them halfway, lifting them from their bottom track. Then slowly pull them out of the opening, bottom first. For single-hung windows, you should just have to release a lever on the side track. Once you've revealed the tracks you can access your stripping and replace it if needed. Most stripping is sold in the form of peel-and-stick rolls, and is very easy to use. You may need an adhesive solvent to take off old weatherstripping. 

     Most older homes in Philly have single-paned windows, which require storm windows. Overtime storm windows can grow tired and drop down, causing gaps, which then results in heat and energy loss. Storm windows should be taken down in the summer, and put back in for the winter season. Leaving them up year round can cause rot to occur in the frame, and where it meets the house. When installing them back in, make sure storm windows are sealed properly at their edges. It is also a good idea to clean the storm windows whenever you put them in or or take them out. 

     If you have tried re-caulking and weather stripping, and you're still feeling a draft, you may just need to replace those old windows. However, if this is not economically feasible, there are a few quick fixes that should last you the season. First, most hardware stores offer shrink wrap plastic insulation. It is simple and easy to use. Just cut to fit your window and surrounding frame, while leaving space for shrinkage(consult instructions), and blow-dry to shrink and seal. One last solution is thermal curtains. Many home stores sell fashionable, full-length curtains, made of special insulated materials. This is an easy and pretty affordable way to keep warmth in and block drafts from leaky windows.

     We hope these tips help keep you and your family warm and cozy this coming winter. Please contact us at Donna Santore Associates for any of your real estate needs.

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