Do you feel a draft coming in through the windows? Or do you have a sneaking suspicion your windows are leaking air?
Air leaks are caused by cracks and gaps that may have resulted from one of the following:
- Subpar window installation
- Damaged seals and weatherstripping (or other compromised components of the window, like the frame or glass)
- Natural wear and tear over time, or
- Changing (or extreme) weather conditions and temperature.
If unaddressed, air leaks will allow warm air to go out and cool air to come in, shifting temperatures in the room. As a result, you might also end up with higher power and heating bills.
So what’s the next step? If you’ve already spotted one leak, there might be more. Best be safe and do a thorough inspection of the house, especially since some air leaks might not be as noticeable as a drafty window.
Learn more about some quick fixes and determine for certain if it’s time to call in a professional for expert help.
How to check for air leaks
Use natural light to spot gaps
The light from outside might help direct you to the problem areas. Turn off the indoor lights during the day and see if any light is coming through, especially around the frame.
Feel for drafts
This is one of the most common ways to find out that your windows are leaking air. Go around the house to feel the windows and inspect for cracks and gaps. This is particularly effective when it’s windy outside and you could feel the breeze coming in. Similar to the light test, in particular, check around the frame where the seals are.
Do a flame or smoke test
This is applicable when you can’t see or feel the air leaks. You can use a small flame or a little bit of smoke to detect where air might be passing through. Use either a candle or an incense stick for this method.
Note: Before lighting the incense, make sure your HVAC or heaters have been turned off.
Light the candle or incense stick and hold it near and along the frame of the window to spot leaks, while checking if the flame flickers or moves in one direction. This is a sign that there is an air leak. Similarly, if the smoke from the incense moves to the side and not upward, as it does normally, this means there is air leaking in.
Use thermal imaging
Another way to spot leaks (especially ones that are not noticeable to the naked eye) is by using a thermal camera. This device helps you see temperatures clearly. This is a great option if a thermal camera is available for rent at your nearby hardware store.
Commission a professional home energy assessment
Though more costly, if you really want to be sure, an expert assessment of your home’s energy use should be penciled in on your calendar. They will run a blower door test where your home will be depressurized to discover the location of air leaks.
How to fix air leaks
Repairing air leaks is all about proper sealing. Depending on the severity of the damage, there are some DIY fixes that you can apply.
It is important to note that there might be cases where you’d need to call in an expert already for a more permanent or long-term solution. This might be the costlier option, but it will pay dividends in the long run.
Replace the seals
If the seals on your windows have been damaged, the best way to resolve this issue is to replace the seals already and install them. Ensure that the seals themselves are top-quality and are held firmly in place.
Caulk the gaps
For small gaps, you may also caulk the area to seal them. This is usually done along the frame or the sections of the window that are not moved.
Fix the weatherstripping
For moving sections of the window, weatherstripping might be in place and the one that got damaged. In this case, a replacement and installation should do the trick. As always, check the material quality and proper installation.
Use durable window shades
As a short-term solution, using durable curtains or shades might temporarily minimize air leaks. This helps prevent cold air from coming in, though it is not a long-term solution.
Cover the window with plastic window wrap
This is also a temporary solution as plastic window wraps might not last as long. Purchase them from the hardware store and determine how much you’ll need for the window. After measuring and cutting the portion, cover the interior side of your window with enough wrap. Then blow dry it to the window.
Call in a professional
In some cases, big repairs and replacements are needed. If significant damage has been done to your window, like cracked glass or improperly-installed windows, check the warranty on your window installation service and consult with an expert. Consider upgrading to products that can provide extra insulation and are more energy-efficient, like triple-pane windows.
After the air leaks have been sealed, the final step is routine maintenance. As weather conditions change and winter is drawing nearer, regularly clean and inspect your windows for signs of damage and address them before it becomes a bigger problem.
Know when to apply DIY fixes and when to consult with an expert already to get the best help. If you require window replacement and installation, get in touch with us and we will map out a solution specific to your needs. Vancouver vinyl window replacements might just be what your home needs – durable, airtight, well-insulated, and energy-efficient.