Weatherstripping Doors and Windows: Fall Maintenance

The shortening days of autumn are a hint that winter is just around the corner. They’re also our cue to start considering ways to keep the house warm and toasty — without going broke. What’s eating up your energy bill? Often, the major culprits are as simple as your home’s doors and windows: prime escape routes for heat.

To better understand the financial impact of a drafty house, try this three-part exercise:

1. Take a $20 bill out of your wallet.
2. Walk over to one of those leaky windows or doors.
3.Toss the money out and let the wind carry it away.It sounds funny, but that’s essentially what’s happening when you let indoor air escape through door and window openings. Combat these cracks with weatherstripping: an easy, inexpensive tool for sealing openings, staying warm, and reducing your heating bills.
Weatherize Your Home
There are a few easy ways to determine if your home needs weatherstripping. First, check for gaps around the doors and windows throughout the house. On a windy day, run your hand around the sides to feel if air is coming through. Also, look for light shining through. If you can feel air or see light, weatherstripping is needed.
Weatherstripping comes in many materials, including wood, rubber, metal and foam — all of which are carried by most hardware stores and home centers. Different types of weatherstripping are necessary for different applications. Here are popular forms of weatherstipping that work well on both doors and windows:

Weatherstripping Windows
Different types of weatherstripping work best of different parts of a window. Below is a diagram for a double-hung window, the most common model, in which the upper and lower sashes move on a vertical track.

window, parts of a windowGetty/AOL

Adhesive-backed foam is the easiest weatherstripping to apply, and it’s very inexpensive — a few dollars’ worth covers one window. It works well when adhered to the friction-free parts of a window, such as the bottom of the lower window sash and the top of the upper sash. When sealing double-hung windows, do not install strips of foam weatherstripping in the vertical channels of the window frame. The up and down movement of the window will cause strips to peel off. For window sashes that move horizontally, place the foam strips on the vertical surface where the window closes. The foam will compress when the window shuts and block air infiltration.

Foam weatherstripping with an adhesive backing. (Photo: Kathy Price-Robinson)