How to Prepare Your Windows for Cold Weather

Winter is on the way! Did you know that improperly sealed windows can contribute to 25% of heat loss in your home? Rising heating costs make this one DIY project you can’t put off.

You can help reduce your energy bills and stay warm and cozy this winter with these simple and cost-effective DIY weatherproofing solutions.

It’s best to weatherproof your windows before the temperature drops and you turn on your furnace. Drop in to Emerge2 today to learn more about how to prepare your windows for winter.

Inspect Your Windows

Take a close look at all your windows to detect leaks. Make notes about the condition of each window, both inside and out, and rank your windows from most to least in need of weatherproofing.

Check your windows for:

  • Torn, cracked, peeling, loose or missing weatherstripping
  • Gaps, warping and cracks in the seals around windows
  • Discolored putty and paint
  • Mildew, mold or rot
  • Discolored glass
  • Condensation
  • Broken locks, latches and cranks

Warped or damaged weatherstripping will let in cold air, and the money you spend on heating your home will simply go out the window. If you notice condensation on your windows, then the seal is probably not working. Sealants can start to break down after a few years, especially in extreme temperature fluctuations.

Check the exterior of your windows for gaps or cracked putty.

Check the interior window and frame – and where the frame meets the wall – for gaps and cracks along all sides of the sash. Pay close attention to where the lower and upper sashes meet on double-hung windows, a common source of air leaks.

On a cold day, if there are leaks, you will be able to feel cold air coming through your window and the frame. Tip: Hold a piece of tissue paper or burning incense near your closed window. If the paper or smoke moves away from or towards the window, you have an air leak.

If your windows and frames are not in good condition, it may be time to replace them.

Clean Your Windows, Frames and Screens

Before you start fixing any leaks, clean your windows, frames, and window sills, removing all dust, dirt, mold, mildew and insects. Let surfaces dry before inserting weatherstrip or caulk.

Caulking is cost-effective and forms a tight seal to keep drafts out. Gain double protection by caulking both the outside and inside of your windows. Caulk in the space between the window and frame, and where the frame meets the wall, for maximum energy savings.

Types of Weatherstripping

You’ll find a huge selection of weatherstripping to suit your windows: foam, felt, metal, plastic, rubber, vinyl, EPDM (synthetic rubber) and silicone.

Self-adhesive weatherstrip is the easiest to apply, but you may want a more secure or permanent weatherstripping solution that requires fastening it with screws, staples or nails.

Foam tape weatherstrip (open or closed-cell foam or EPDM rubber) is ideal for larger gaps. It comes in various widths and thicknesses to fit cracks of any shape or size. Cut the length you need and press firmly in place. Self-sticking polyvinyl chloride foam tape is a good choice if you also need to tackle moisture.

Felt weatherstrip is economical and comes in plain felt or with a flexible metal strip. It’s easy to cut to size with a utility knife or tin snips and stays in place with self-adhesive backing, staples or finishing nails.

V-Strip (Tension Seal) weatherstrip – V-Strip or tension seals are designed to fit in the sides of sliding and double hung windows. V-Strips are made with a strong plastic or metal strip in a V shape that expands to fill the size of the gap in the window. Cut the lengths you need with scissors, remove the backing paper, and stick to the sides of double hung or sliding windows. Choose nail-in V-Strips for a more secure installation.

Removable weatherstrip caulk – An easy, temporary solution for drafty windows and doors is a removable weatherstrip caulk. You can remove it in the summer or leave it on to help your home stay cooler. Use it over the weatherstrip for an even stronger barrier to cold drafts.

Rope caulk is similar to putty and comes on a large roll. Push the rope caulking into the spaces between the sashes and the top, bottom and sides of your window. This is ideal for windows you never open, and you can paint it to match your window and frame color. It’s easy to remove at the end of winter and leaves no residue.

Window film is an effective temporary way to weatherproof windows to keep cold drafts at bay during the winter months, and a good solution until you are ready to replace your windows. It’s easy to install and will help reduce your energy costs.

  • Measure your window, add a half-inch on all sides, then cut a piece of film or plastic to fit
  • Stick the double-sided tape on the window frame, then apply the film to the tape
  • Smooth out the plastic with a soft sponge, then trim the half-inch with a utility knife
  • Use a hair dryer to blow hot air onto the film to shrink the plastic for a tight fit

Safety Tip – Bedrooms must have at least one window you can open from the inside in case you need to escape in an emergency.

Consider Glazing

Solutions for Damaged Glazing

Glazing can be damaged by moisture or dry air in the house, usually on the second floor, due to rising hot air. If the window is new, check your warranty to see if it is still covered.

If you see condensation between the panes on non-sealed glazing units, inside a sealed double-glazed unit, or on storm windows, you can:

  • Add weatherstrip to the inner sash to prevent air leakage
  • Replace the glazing unit
  • Refurbish sealed glazing units (temporary solution)
  • Check that your storm windows have drainage holes to allow water to escape

Once you determine the cause of the condensation, decide if you need new energy-efficient windows. Replace damaged windows with high-performance ENERGY STAR® certified windows or inserts.

Tips for Sneaky Drafts

  • Repair your window’s hardware – broken or loose latches and cranks can let cold air in
  • Install storm windows
  • Add a new sash and glazing unit to frames if frames are in good condition
  • Insulate electrical outlets and light switches
  • Plug holes in walls around cables, pipes and vents with expanding foam to block drafts from outdoors
  • Close gaps between the door and the jambs on the sides
  • Add a door sweep along the bottom of your exterior doors

Weatherproofing your windows will help you save money, reduce energy costs, and reduce harm to the environment. If you haven’t discovered the benefits of weatherproofing your windows, it’s not too late! Our team at Emerge2 is always happy to help you.