Sometimes just one room of your house is colder or than the rest, especially on a windy day. Old homes have charm, but a drafty house can be uncomfortable at times. Even well maintained doors can eventually wear in such a way as to produce a draft. It may not seem like a big deal but a draft can be costly in the long run. A drafty window or doorway often means it is not properly secured to the frame somehow thus that barrier to the outside is compromised. There are simple and cheap ways to remedy this though, and they are all things that the average person can do.
Drafts can cause:
- Higher utility bills due to unwanted exterior air consistently getting in your home. A drafty room may always be an uncomfortable temperature no matter how long you leave the air or heat on, making your place of living not so inviting or forcing you to stay away from a part of the house.
- The beginning of the downward spiral to your doors needing to be replaced. Even small amounts of moisture and the external climate means traveling past your door can be the start of your door absorbing moisture. That leads to rotting and warping or rusting of your door.
- Bugs can now more easily enter the home. If a constant breeze can enter your home then now so can small bugs. Having a draft can lead to an infestation in the wrong conditions.
Troubleshooting Tips to Fix the Draft in Your Home
Locate the drafty area, which will be a window or a door. Check that all windows are closed fully and locked. If they are not locked, then they may not be closed fully even if they appear to be. If they are crank jalousie windows, these do tend to naturally be drafty as they age, especially if they will not crank tightly. Try replacing the crank handle which is a common part to wear out. However, if that doesn’t work, try installing blinds and curtains to minimize the airflow.
If it’s a drafty door, here are two areas to check. Start by simply grabbing your door knob while the door is closed, then again while open, and lift on it. If the door moves up or down then you have found a problem—the door is loosely attached. Simply pull out a screw driver and tighten all the hinge screws to stop the movement. Now it should close flush and swing as it did before, but this time keep out any draft it previously had.
Tip: Be careful to not over tighten the hinge screws. You can break off the head of the screw if you over tighten which is fixable, but more work that you want to avoid. Also be mindful that your hinge screws are holding your door in position. If some are just snug, don’t crank down on them or you may pull the door slightly out of square with the frame.
Still have a chill getting through? Use your hand and feel along the edge of the door to see where the air is flowing. It could be as simple as the weather stripping has gone bad and needs to be replaced.
Always maintaining an air tight seal is vital for stopping drafts and keeping your home at your desired comfort level at all times.
Weather Stripping (or Lack Thereof) Can Cause Drafts
Check the door frame where the door actually touches the front side of the frame. There will be a strip of foam, rubber or vinyl weather stripping. Inspect it to ensure it is all present, that none has broken away and left a section unprotected. Check it for cracks, tears, and holes along the entire edge. This will happen over time from opening and closing the door, temperature changes and getting old and drying out. Older doors may be hard to find replacement weather stripping that is an exact match, but luckily you can easily change the type you are using.
Easy to Replace Weather Stripping
There are types of weather stripping that slide into a slot to lock into place, some that screw into the frame, and some that stick to the frame. All are simple, though stick-on is the easiest, and the type with the slot can be challenging and requires tools for precision cutting and measuring. For under ten dollars you can get everything you need. Follow these instructions and the installation will probably take less time than the trip to the store to buy it.
- Remove all old weather stripping and clean the surfaces. If it was a stick-on strip you may need to use a razor blade scraping sideways cut away the old glue.
- Measure and cut the stripping. For stick on weather stripping simply hold it up to the door and see the length you need. You do not want any gaps so try and be as close to what you need as possible, or make it a little bigger to trim off later. This will ensure you have the perfect amount.
- Placement of the stripping: it is vital that this step is done correctly. Put it too close to the door and you may cause problems with the door opening and closing, put it too far away and it will do almost nothing for you. You want it to be at the edge tight where the door touches the frame. You want the edge to give the door a little push, this creates the air tight seal, but not too much push that you now need to slam the door to try and close it. Experiment a little with this. Once the right placement is found just peel away the back and stick into place. Now close the door and check for any drafts. You may need to reposition where the strips are to have a good snug fit while keeping the operation of the door as it should be. If you have to move it around a few times, you may need a new piece because the back will begin to lose its adhesion.
If your home has begun to have a draft, don’t worry but don’t ignore it. Getting it taken care of is easy, affordable and anyone can do it. Follow the steps in this article and you will have remedied that problem in no time giving you back the comfort you deserve to have in your home.
Tal Hassid, founder of ETO Doors, is a home decor and door design expert in the industry for 15 years. ETO Doors, one of the largest online marketplaces for doors, carries solid wood and fiberglass doors including Interior, Exterior, and French doors.