Drafty, Leaking Windows: What Causes Indoor Comfort Problems?
One of the major factors that affects the overall comfort level in your home is your windows. When windows are tight-fitting and well-maintained, they have little if any effect on interior temperature changes and comfort levels.
However, poor window quality can mean interior drafts, room temperature fluctuations, high energy bills, and even hot and cold spots inside the same room. Many people struggle with drafts in the house, even if their windows are newer.
Here are the main reasons why windows might be causing drafts or discomfort in your home and what you can do about it.
Poor or Missing Weather Stripping
The first place to look when you notice a draft in your windows is at the weather stripping. Newer vinyl windows usually have a rubber or vinyl seal. Other styles of windows may use a high-density foam for weatherproofing.
Some older windows, including older wood windows, may have metal weather stripping that comes down from the sash in a V shape to create a barrier against outside air where the window slides and joins into the frame.
Rubber and foam seals can become cracked, moldy, or brittle with age. They need to be removed and replaced. Metal stripping can be squished or dented, also necessitating replacement.
To prevent the total breakdown of your weather stripping, you can:
- Clear out your window tracks to remove dirt and debris. Dirt roughens the weather stripping and causes it to break down with repeated window slides.
- Wipe off condensation on the interior and exterior of the window. The moisture can actually cause mold growth inside foam and rubber stripping, causing it to pull away from the window.
- Check your windows each summer for compacted or cracking weather stripping. Catching the problem earlier (and in the summer months) can help so you can make the repairs before winter comes back, bringing increased drafts with it.
You might think that a chunk or two of missing foam won’t make much of a difference, but even in a large room, a small gap can drastically affect the overall comfort. Don’t wait until your weather stripping is gone or completely compromised. Stay on top of small repairs so your windows stay functional for longer.
Broken Glazing or Seals
The next problem that often affects window drafts is broken seals or glazing. In older windows, glaze is a putty-like substance that holds separate window panes in place within the wooden sash frames. The putty hardens, but over decades it becomes brittle. It can crumble away completely, leaving small gaps between the glass and the wood it sits in.
If your old windows are in good shape, all you have to do is carefully remove the old putty glazing and window pins, take out the glass, and clear out the glass track. Then you slide the glass back into place and use new putty to restore the seal. If the glass breaks, you can order new cut glass to replace the old, more brittle glass.
However, some old windows are not worth the effort to re-glaze. The wood is old, and if the window has not been properly cared for, it will show its age with weakening joints at each corner. If this is the case, only replacement sashes or entire replacement windows can solve the problem.
More modern windows do not use glazing putty. Instead, they have foam seals that cradle the glass in the frame. These windows cannot be taken apart like old windows. If the seals are broken, condensation will build up in between the double panes. If the seals fail, the entire window will need to be replaced.
Friction and Shrinkage
Over time, wooden windows can shrink from frequent use, meaning they don’t fit as tightly into their frames. When the fit is not tight, air leaks around the window sashes and into the room. This problem can be solved in a few ways.
You can add a dust seal to make up the difference. However, adding a seal is only a temporary solution. The real solution is to replace the sash of the window to better fit in the original frame.
Homeowners should not caulk windows closed to solve the problem of leaking sashes. Not only is your access to the window reduced, but the window becomes harder to maintain, so you accelerate the decay of the window itself.
Outdoor Temperature Changes
Unfortunately, even if your windows have no broken seals or worn-out weather stripping, you can sometimes still feel a draft. Extreme temperature differences affect different windows in different ways. For example, an inexpensive vinyl window will not keep the cold out as well as a more efficient, high-end window.
Similarly, you may feel a chill coming through your window if it has only a single pane of glass. Single-pane windows are not as efficient, but with well-fitting storm windows, their efficiency improves greatly.
If you feel your windows are sub-par, consider slowly replacing them with morea highly rated models.
For more information, contact us at Central Glass Company.