Feel a draft inside your home? This shouldn’t be ignored. Drafty windows make it more difficult to heat and cool your home throughout the year, meaning more expensive energy bills for you. Good windows are durable, energy efficient, and although not totally maintenance free, can be kept in good condition with regular cleaning, caulking and glazing. Here’s how to check for window leaks and how to seal them, too!
How to Check for Window Leaks
If you’ve noticed a draft coming from your windows, do a test to determine if air is flowing through your closed windows. The first thing you should do is a visual inspection of your windows from the interior and exterior of your home. On the outside, look for areas where old caulking has dried up or failed. You’ll see a gap between your window frame and your home’s siding if this is the case.
You should also look out for damaged glazing, especially if your home has old single-paned windows. If the perimeter of your windows is not sealed tight against water and air infiltration, your home can experience expensive heat loss.
From the inside, make sure the weather stripping around the windows is in good condition. If it’s not, take note of any damaged weather stripping that needs to be replaced.
Keep in mind, not all problem areas are obvious to the human eye. On a breezy day, hold a lit candle close to the window seams. If the flame bends, it means there’s air pushing through the window from the outside.
How to Seal Your Windows
Step 1: Remove Loose Glazing and Old Caulk
Remove old caulking using a caulk softener. Apply it two hours in advance so it can soak in and use a putty knife to scrape it off. Removing as much of the old caulk as possible will make it easier for the new caulk to adhere properly. It will also give your window a good seal. You can also use a putty knife to remove hardened glazing that flakes easily.
Step 2: Install New Glazing
Once you’ve removed the old glazing as well as the glass window pane, clean the surfaces as the new glazing requires a dust-free surface to adhere properly. You can find window glazing in a small tub (apply this type with a putty knife or paint scraper), or a tube (apply this with a caulking gun).
Scoop out a small portion of glazing and create a smooth slope along each pane of glass. This slope should be at about a 20 to 45-degree angle to the base of the window pane. The glazing should be nice and smooth when you’re done. Wait for the glazing to harden completely before painting over it.
Step 3: Apply New Caulk
If you’re wondering how much caulk you need, the proper ratio is about one tube of caulking for one window. Cut the tip of the tube of caulk at a 45-degree angle so it will fit seamlessly in the window seam. Move the caulking gun along the seam while squeezing the tube with even pressure.
If you notice larger gaps, make sure to move more slowly, allowing the caulk to fill the entire gap before moving on. When you’re finished with the caulking gun, wet your finger and smooth out the caulk to give it a pristine finished look! The caulk will dry and set in 12 to 15 hours, and your windows should be airtight for the season.
If you feel a draft, make sure to take care of it right away! Follow these steps and you’ll have sealed windows (and a lower energy bill) in no time!