Here’s How to Draft-Proof Your Home
A cool breeze across your face feels wonderful on a warm summer day, but it's not so pleasant when you feel that breeze inside your home when you have the windows closed.
A drafty house can leave you frustrated and uncomfortable. Plus, it usually increases your utility bills since your HVAC system has to work harder to keep your home at your desired temperature. Finding the drafty areas and stopping the air leaks can help.
A drafty house happens when there are gaps somewhere in the home that allow air to move in and out of the structure. Your home can have gaps and cracks in a lot of places, including your foundation and attic and around windows and doors. Differences in air pressure inside and outside your home can also cause drafts. In the winter, cold outdoor air can push through those gaps and create a suction effect due to the pressure differences. You might also have a drafty house if your attic isn't well-sealed and insulated. Since heat rises, it can escape through your attic, again creating a vacuum effect that pulls cold air from outside into your home.
Knowing where the gaps are located is the first step to fixing the problem. You might already have an idea of where the air is coming into your home based on where it feels drafty. Many draft issues happen in a few key areas. If you aren't sure where the drafts are coming from, carry a stick of incense around the house and watch to see when the smoke changes directions to spot a leak. You can also do a visual inspection around these key areas to look for visible gaps.
Sometimes, the best way to fix drafty windows is to replace them if they're old. Installing new windows can increase the energy efficiency of your home. However, you can do smaller, more affordable things to stop drafty windows from making your home uncomfortable. Here are some options:
- Seal gaps and cracks around window frames.
- Install new window weather stripping.
- Hang heavy, thermal window coverings.
- Layer multiple window coverings.
- Reglaze windowpanes if necessary.
- Cover your windows with plastic film insulation in the winter.
Doors can also be a major source of drafts, even when they're closed. A door with a window in it has even more places for air to escape. Try these tips to fix a drafty door:
- Check for proper installation.
- Install new weather stripping.
- Install a new door sweep along the bottom edge.
- Seal cracks and gaps around the frame.
- Position a door draft stopper along the bottom of the door.
- Install a new insulated door.
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The hot air that rises to your attic can escape through any gaps and cracks in the area. Air can escape around exhaust pipes and other features that go through the roof or side of the house. You might also have gaps in the attic floor that make it easier for the warm air from your home to reach the attic.
Sealing all the gaps and cracks eliminates the pathway for the air into the attic. Adding insulation to your attic can also help keep the heated air in the main part of your home. Consider hiring a professional to help you choose the right type of insulation and install it correctly.
Your home could have gaps and cracks anywhere along your walls. Look especially around anything that penetrates the wall, such as exhaust pipes or utility lines. Sealing around those entrance points can cut down on drafty areas. If your exterior walls don't have much insulation, consider hiring a professional to add more insulation.
Fireplaces can also be a source of drafts along your walls. Closing the damper when you aren't using the fireplace can help. You can also buy fireplace draft stoppers in different styles to use when you don't have a fire going.
The suction effect that happens when warm air escapes from the attic often causes cold air to come in through gaps and cracks in your foundation. It's common for little cracks to form along the foundation, so sealing them can help stop the cycle, especially if you combine it with sealing and insulating your attic. Fixing cracks in your foundation can also cut down on the risk of water seeping into your home.
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