If you’ve ever experienced shock and awe when you open your monthly electricity statement and wondered where all those kilowatts went, consider how quickly leaky windows and drafty doors waste your wattage and run up the bill. By the same token, think of how much money you would have saved had you covered those crevices months ago.
There’s no need to keep beating yourself up over past mistakes – do something about it now. Today’s user-friendly applications and supplies make it easier than ever to fix many of these problems yourself. Here are some weatherproofing DIY tips to keep in mind.
Check Your Doors and Windows
There are several ways you can check to see if your windows and doors are in need of some reinforcements. Give these a shot:
The Dollar Bill Test: If you are tired of watching your dollar bills fly out the door, put your money where your problem is by performing this simple check. From inside your home, try to slide a dollar bill between the locked door and the door-jamb. If this bill fits through, imagine just how much air escapes every minute. Invest a few of these dollars now in some weatherproofing to save indefinitely on your heating bill in the winter and your air conditioning bill in the summer. Your wallet will thank you.
The Flashlight Test: Another test for exterior doors is a two-person job and is best performed when outside lighting is low (early morning or at night). To maximize the accuracy of this test, turn off all inside lights, as well. Have a friend stand outside and shine a flashlight all around the perimeter of the door. If you can see any beams coming through the cracks of the closed door, make note of where they are and apply an appropriate remedy to those areas (more on that in a moment).
The Finger Test: For more tactile DIY folks, this test involves wetting a finger with water and running it around window casings and door jambs. The moisture will help you detect any air movement and if you notice a temperature difference on your hand, you may have just uncovered a draft!
Get Your Doors and Windows in Check
So now that you have determined that you need to weatherproof your doors and windows, here are some simple DIY options to tackle the problem.
Weather Stripping: There are many different types of weather stripping but the easiest to install yourself is pressure-sensitive adhesive-backed foam. This comes in rolls that you can cut to order based on the length of seam you plan to seal. Not only does this work for sealing doors and windows alike but it can effectively last up to three years before you need to replace it. Perhaps the best part of pressure- sensitive foam is the silencing effect it has on slamming doors and windows! To begin, determine where you need to apply the strips and remove any existing weatherproofing from that area. Make sure the surface is clean before you try to apply the new strips; otherwise, they will not adhere properly. Simply measure and cut the appropriate number of strips in whatever length you need. Finally, peel back the cover from the adhesive backing and firmly press the strips to the seams.
The Door Sweep: One of the biggest ways air escapes our rooms is through the space under doors. For exterior doors, a common solution to this problem is found in door sweeps. A door sweep is a small strip of plastic, rubber, neoprene or brush material (like a broom) attached to an aluminum or wood carrier band that screws into the bottom of your door.
Although you should follow the application instructions accompanying your specific sweep, the general installation process consists of placing the sweep at the bottom of your door so that there is no gap above the floor, marking the screw holes with a pencil, pre-drilling holes and then attaching the sweep with the screws.
Door sweeps are great for use on exterior doors, but what about the doors separating rooms inside your house where you want to use a more decorative remedy for door to floor gaps? Rather than wadding up a towel or stuffing a sheet under there, you can use what is often referred to as a “door snake,” which is an unfortunate name for such a useful item. Most commonly, these draft stoppers are long tubes of fabric filled with some sort of stuffing: polyester filling, sand, or even bean-bag material to add weight and keep them in place at the bottom of the door. They can be purchased ready-made or you can create your own custom door snake with a room-coordinating fabric.
Drapes and Wall Coverings: Drapes have been around forever because they work! For centuries, people have used heavy drapes around windows and on the surrounding walls to add insulation and keep warmth in a room. Available in a variety of fabrics with different textures and weights, drapes are a wonderful way to combine form and function.
Now that you’ve seen how to locate and prevent door and window seepage, how are you going to spend those savings? Do you have any plans for DIY projects this spring to prepare for keeping cool indoors this summer?