How to Seal Windows and Doors for Winter

Maximize the efficiency of your home heating by ensuring that your windows and doors are properly sealed. Sealing your windows and doors improves their insulation and prevents unnecessary heat loss. If you’re running a heating system at home, having securely sealed windows and doors helps reduce negative environmental impact and can even save money on energy bills.

Sealing Your Windows for Winter

There are multiple techniques for sealing windows in winter. Depending on the way you use your windows and the materials available to you, you may choose one of the following methods to seal your windows or combine a variety of methods.

Before sealing any windows, it’s important to prepare them to receive this treatment. To do this, measure the window, its sill, and the surrounding frame. You may need to note these measurements for some methods of sealing, such as weather stripping. Next, you’ll need to clean all around the windows, which can be done with a simple wet cloth. No matter which sealing technique you intend to use, you’ll want to leave time for your windows to dry off before proceeding.

Temporary Caulking

If some of the doors and windows in your home will not be in use until the spring, you may consider sealing them with temporary caulking. Removable weather-strip caulk can be applied around the perimeter of windows and doors for the time being and easily removed in warmer seasons. This type of sealing is a good way to keep warm air in your home while preventing cold air and moisture from creeping in.

To apply temporary caulking around your window, first ensure that the frame is free of old paint, dust, and debris. If you plan to apply caulking on both the interior and exterior of your window frame, be sure to clean both sides of the window frame. With the area clear, you can apply a consistent amount of temporary caulk to the area between the window frame and siding of the home. You may need to allow the caulk to dry overnight before it is properly set and sealed. Once dry, check your work to see if there are any areas along the window requiring touch-ups and repeat the process as needed.

Insulation Films

Another method for sealing your windows involves working with a store-bought window insulation kit. These kits include everything you need to apply a layer of insulation film over your window. Working with a heat controlled version of window insulation film has less impact over the aesthetic of your window after application.

While your kit may include more specific instructions for proper application, the general process involves placing the film on the window glass and using a hair dryer to heat the film, causing it to shrink into place. You can start by taping the film in place on the window glass, allowing several inches of film to overlap the edge of the window. For nice and neat results, press the film firmly into place, avoiding bubbling and wrinkles throughout the film. By working out wrinkles and bubbles prior to heating with a hair dryer, your final film sheet will likely lay flat and be less visible in the end.

When you’re ready to heat the film and shrink it into place, be sure to hold the hair dryer about 5 inches away from the window glass and move back and forth to distribute warm air evenly throughout. To remove any remaining stubborn wrinkles and bubbles, simply repeat this process a few more times.

Window Weather Stripping

If your windows have small but visible gaps between the frame and rest of the home, you may choose to install weather stripping. Applying weather stripping to these areas effectively plugs them up to prevent cold air from entering and warm air from escaping.

To apply weather stripping, you’ll want to refer to the measurements of your window and cut pieces of stripping to fit. Most weather stripping has an adhesive backing that, once removed, reveals a sticky layer to hold the stripping in place.

Draft Snakes

You can also buy draft snakes to help seal your windows. Draft snakes are small fabric tubes that can be laid to cover areas of the window letting in a draft. Unfortunately, draft snakes only address one area of a window at a time and may not be the most efficient sealing solution.

Thermal Curtains

Window treatments such as drapery can add an extra protective layer of insulation to your windows to help improve the efficiency of your home heating system. Specialized thermal curtains are made with thicker fabrics and will not allow the passage of air easily. Thermal curtains not only help seal your windows but also provide some decorative benefit. Of course, for this solution to work it is necessary to pull the drapes shut, which may not be feasible for all windows in your home, depending on lighting considerations.

Sealing Your Doors in Winter

Aside from sealing your windows, it’s also important to consider how well your doors manage to keep cold air from entering your home and warm air from escaping. Many doors allow a small draft into the home along the frame or through a small gap at the bottom. Sealing doors can be more challenging than insulating windows since most doors need to open and close in order to remain functional. Still, there are a few methods you can try to seal your doors and improve your home heating efficiency.

Door Weather Stripping

Similar to sealing windows with weather stripping, you’ll want to know the dimensions of your door in order to cut pieces of weather stripping that will fit. Once you have cut the pieces of weather stripping to fit the gaps around your door, simply peel back the adhesive backing and press the stripping into place.

Draft Snakes

Draft snakes may work better for doors because they can block air exchange from coming in at the bottom of the door, where a small gap typically exists to allow door movement. More than that, they are easily removable whenever you need to open and close the door, making this an ideal solution to sealing your door.

Taking some of these simple measures to seal your windows and doors during winter can improve the efficiency of your home heating system, ultimately saving you money on energy bills. This type of maintenance is quick and easy, and should be taken care of about once a year when the weather starts getting cold.

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