Monday, September 3, 2012

Finding Drafts Before Winter Finds You

With the unofficial end of summer here, it is time to turn our attention to winter. Yuck. With that mind, here is a guest post from Jakob Barry, a home improvement journalist for He blogs for pros across the U.S. like Washington, DC, carpenters.

Whatever living space you have one of the most important situations to rectify before cooler weather arrives is drafts. That’s because when it’s freezing outside and the wind is howling the brisk air will find its way inside your home making life more frigid and uncomfortable than it has to be.

Furthermore, while you’re sitting there hands around a hot glass of tea dreaming about spring the heating bill will be rising. That’s because whether it’s an electric heater or a basement furnace trying to maintain some sense of warmth, the thermostat will constantly be trying to compensate for the imbalance in temperature.

That said the following are a few tips for finding drafts and trying to seal them up so the indoors will be a cozy space away from the wintry chaos.

Locating drafts
Drafts are mainly found around windows and doors because those spots are the largest openings on a home. Once in a while an old structure in need of repairs that wasn’t tended to may develop a draft in a different spot but this would be an unusual case.

Doors and windows are the places to focus on when locating drafts and the best way to do this is with a candle.

It doesn’t have to be at night but should be on a day where there is a breeze.

1. Remove curtains from around windows and anything else likely to catch fire that may also be around doors.
2. Close and lock windows and doors.
3. Light a candle and make sure it can be held securely.
4. Holding the candle move it over the space just across from the door or window going over the frame from top to bottom and any parts in between.
5. Watch the flame carefully. If it flickers chances are you’ve discovered a draft.
6. Try to mark the spot with a light pencil so you won’t forget where it is.

Sealing easy drafts
Once you’ve discovered a draft don’t be startled. If it’s not too serious you should be able to deal with it yourself and not have to hire a carpentry contractor. If this is the case all you’ll need is a caulking gun, some caulk, and rubber gloves.

1. Look at the pencil marks made when holding the candle and eye ball where they would correspond outside.
2. Caulk around the window or door exterior with extra emphasis on where the drafts were.
3. Smooth out the caulk with a finger while wearing the rubber gloves so it covers any and all openings.
4. On a breezy day check with the candle to see if the drafts were sealed.

Sealing more complicated drafts
Sometimes the drafts are more complicated and may require weather stripping, especially around doors. This can be purchased at a local home improvement store and installed easily by following the directions.

It’s when drafts are found around the mechanism of a window that a professional may need to be called in. This often occurs when a window is out of alignment and needs to be serviced.

In such an event, it’s important to realize that while paying someone to give the window a tune up may not seem like an option you’d like to follow through with, the savings it will most likely provide on the utility bill will be worth the money.

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