Winter Window Warnings!

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ December 11, 2009

It's howling wind and gusting sleet outside, but you're warm and comfy in your living room before a crackling fire...except, there's a steady stream of air on your neck as you sit by the window. In fact, the holiday candle you set in the bay has begun to flutter. Come to think of it, your heating bill went up last month and it rankled when you made out your checks. Is your house as snug as you thought it was?

A quick but conscientious walk around the house can clue you in to the culprits straight away. Let's face it, wood has a life-and decay cycle-of its own. Small cracks lead to a trickle of moisture and mildew, setting into action window entropy. Eventually you could be looking at replacements.

Small Window Fixes for Winter

If you have air flow, you have trouble. Some DIYers figure that adding a little putty here and there can stop nature from its course. It's a temporary fix-just like putting chewing gum on a leaky dam. You're more likely looking at replacing weather stripping, rather than just performing a cursory fix.

Truthfully, a gap as tiny as an eighth of an inch can result in escalating heating bills. You want to add weather-stripping now, and get around to evaluating windows for replacement come springtime. Many weather-stripping products come with peel-off backing and adhere fine if your surface is clean of dust and grease. Prime interior real estate for stripping includes window bases, frames and wells, door-jam interiors, and the natural gaps between doors and flooring.

Other good remedies include installing storm windows next summer where you've detected leaks in your walk-around. Make notes. For now, you can easily add heavy curtain treatments in rooms with perceptible drafts, giving your room a buffer from the windows.

When I lived in Fairbanks, we used foam sealants around the basement windows and heat-shrink plastic sheeting. You simply attach the sheets to the window perimeter with double-sided tape (be sure the surfaces are clean and dry). Once the sheeting is set, you blow hot air from a hair dryer across the surface of the sheeting and it shrinks to fit the window.

Obviously, you can't open any of these windows for ventilation for the duration of the coldest months until you peel it off in the spring. But I was toasty inside while the city was dark and temperatures dropped to 68 degrees below zero.

Last August I blogged about window replacements and the $1,500 tax credit for new windows. Check it out.

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