However you heat your home – gas, electric or oil – or however new and efficient your heating system is – it can’t exactly be called a cheap thing to do. However, every year homeowners waste a huge amount of the heat their HVAC systems pump out because they allow little air leaks to suck the warm air out of their home while also allowing the cold air they are trying to combat with the heat to seep back in.
Solving this problem is not rocket science and it’s not an expensive undertaking. All it really calls for is a little time and effort, a couple of times a year at most.
Most air leaks either come from the home’s doors or, and this is where a great deal of the waste occurs, even with relatively new windows, its windows.
The key to stopping air leaks around doors is good weather stripping all around the sills and maybe even the use of a good old fashioned draft excluder at the bottom. Window leaks are a little harder to deal with, or even ‘diagnose’ which is why we thought we’d take a closer look at them.
Checking for Window Air Leak Problems the Easy Way
So, how do you best determine if air is flowing through a closed window? It’s often easier when the weather is cold outside because you can actually feel the draft, but in summer it can be a lot harder to simply ‘pick up’ on such a problem.
One easy way to track down window air leaks whatever the season is to light a candle on a breezy day and then hold it close to the various window seams. If the flame bends it’s a pretty good sign that you have a problem.
You should also be checking window caulk both indoors and out. Caulk is most vulnerable in the hotter months as the sun can really dry it out, leading to cracks and gaps that let air in and out. And no window glazing, however modern, is really meant to last forever. Putty ages, and as it does the window seal loosens. If you get a rattle when you tap on a window pane then it’s time to look into re-glazing.
Repairing Leaky Windows Step By Step
Supplies You’ll Need
1. Carefully Scrape Away Old Caulk and Loose Glazing
At least two hours ahead of when you intend to start working on the window in earnest apply caulk softener to the old stuff, as this extra step will make the job a lot easier (really, it will.) When the caulk has been softened use the putty knife to begin removing old caulk.
Get rid of as much as you can, as not only will the end result look better but new caulking will adhere more successfully as well. If there is also weak glazing present remove any that flakes away easily in the same way.
1.5 If You Need Reglaze
Note: because the glass does have to be removed, if you don’t have help for this bit – or your DIY confidence is not high – then this is a step perhaps better left to a pro.
Before installing new glazing, check to see if there are enough push-points installed at the edge of the glass. These can be triangle shaped or even better – for this purpose anyway – are the ones with two prongs that you can push in with the edge of a putty knife. This prevents the glass from moving and keeps it in place while you are installing new glazing. Push-points can be purchased at any hardware or home improvement store if you don’t have enough in place.
Window glazing can be purchased in either small tubs, to be applied with a putty knife or or in a tube designed to be applied with a caulking gun. Tub glazing often works best for smaller areas as the use of a paint scraper will let you work a much tighter seal than a caulking gun.
Use your putty knife to scoop out a little bit of glazing to create a smooth slope along each pane of glass at roughly a 20- to 45-degree angle to the base of the window pane. Keep working at it until the glazing until it is smooth and leave it undisturbed to dry for at least 12-15 hours. After that you can paint it if you like.
2. Installing New Window Caulk
Even for larger windows one tube of caulk should be more than enough for each one that you need to work on. Cut the tip of the caulk at a 45 degree angle, as this will allow it to fit more snugly into the window seams.
Apply the caulk by moving your gun along the seam in a slow, smooth motion while squeezing the tube. If you will be filling larger gaps, move even more slowly to let the caulk adequately fill the space.
Finally, use a wet finger to smooth out everything and give it a finished look. Then, after the caulk has been allowed to dry for 12-15 hours you can be fairly secure in the knowledge that your windows are nicely sealed up for the season and you will no longer be – figuratively at least – letting dollars fly out of them.
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