When your furnace is working to control the climate inside your house this winter, the last thing you want is for it to work overtime because of drafty windows. Unfortunately, you might be surprised to learn how much heat your home loses because of failing caulk, broken seals, or cracked window panes.
You’ll know air is leaking through your windows if the area around them feels warmer or colder than in other parts of your house. Additionally, the next time the wind is whipping outside, Opal Enterprises offers ways to test your windows for drafts.
Use the Candle Test for Checking Windows for Drafts
The candle test is an easy and reliable way to test for window drafts on a windy day. It’s also the best method for detecting air leaks. Use caution while conducting this test, however, and be sure to move any flammable materials like curtains out of the way first.
- Gather equipment: Prepare your test area and gather materials. You will need a candle, matches or a lighter, a stool or small table, and note-taking material. Be sure to choose a candle that’s easy to carry and follow fire safety
- Turn off air movement devices: Turn off all fans, heaters, and air conditioners and then close your doors to ensure the air in the room is as still as possible.
- Ignite your flame: Light your candle.
- Put your candle near the air leak source: Hold the candle as still as possible near the window seams. Setting the candle on a small table or the windowsill can help prevent unintended movement.
- Watch for air movement: Watch the flame for signs of air movement coming from the direction of the window. A window draft will likely push or pull the fire in one direction or another.
- Study the results: If the flame remains straight then, the window is likely well sealed. If the fire is bent or curved, then you probably have a window draft. The more the flame is curved and moving, the bigger the draft.
- Cover the whole window area: Test different areas of the window seams from top to bottom, and don’t forget the center if you have a seam there. For example, your window could be well sealed in one place but leaky in another.
- Track the results: Keep track of the results by writing down which window you tested and where you saw the draft. You can also make a light pencil mark or place a piece of masking tape on the window frame itself if you want to pinpoint the leak.
Use Light Curtains to Check for Drafty Windows
Another great way to test for drafty windows is by using light curtains or fabric. If you already have those hung, then you’re in luck! Lightweight curtains with a tight weave work best since they are more easily affected by air movement. Shower curtain fabric can also do the trick.
As with the candle test, do this test on a windy day for best results.
- Gather your materials: A lightweight curtain and note-taking items.
- Hang the curtain in front of your window: If you want something temporary and portable, try hanging it over a rolling wardrobe rack.
- Turn off air movement devices: Close all the windows, turn off fans, heaters, air conditioners, and close doors to keep the inside air still.
- Check for curtain movement: Watch and wait to see if there is movement in the curtain.
- Study the results: If the curtains are sucked inward or pushed out by the window, then you have a draft. If they remain still, then you likely have well-sealed windows.
- Take notes on your draft test: Keep track by jotting down the results. Rate the severity of the movement and note where the worst drafts are.
What Causes Drafty Windows?
Drafts are a sign that your windows are not sealing as they should be. Aging windows eventually deteriorate and develop leaks, but newer windows can have drafts as well.
Drafty windows could be due to:
- Old or insufficient caulk: When your caulk isn’t doing the job of sealing at the edges of the window, it allows gaps to form between the window frame and the siding.
- Ill-fitting or poorly installed windows: Your window may be the wrong size for the space where it was installed, or inexperienced installers may not have put it in correctly.
- Cracks in the frame or glass: Window components can become fragile over time, and even minor accidental impacts could cause cracks or other damage.
- Damage or gaps around the edge of the windowpane: Window glass should be smooth around the edges where it is held in place by glazing putty. Chips or cracks on this part of the window can lead to leaks.
- Broken seals: between the layers of glass in double- or triple-pane windows.
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How Do You Fix Drafty Windows Without Replacing Them?
If these tests indicate that you have a window draft, you can decide whether to fix the leak or replace the window completely. Depending on the root cause of the draft, you could benefit from quick fixes like re-caulking or replacing the weather stripping.
If the problem is a crack or other damage, you can evaluate the cost-effectiveness of replacing the glass. This may be a good solution with relatively new windows, but for older windows, it might make more sense to replace the entire unit instead.
Window replacement may seem like a daunting task. However, with the right contractor on the job, it will not cause any major disruptions in your daily routine. If you are still unsure if this is the right solution for you, consult with a professional.
If you did not locate any drafts, but you still feel the windows are inefficient, you might be right. There certainly could be other sources of heat loss. For example, single-pane windows can be ineffective even if they are properly sealed with no significant drafts.
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Opal Enterprises is Your Local Window Experts
If you’re ready for expert help repairing or replacing your drafty windows, contact us! Opal Enterprises offers energy-efficient window replacement in Naperville, Des Plaines, and west and southwestern Chicago suburbs.
Learn more at our blog page or by visiting our local showrooms. We offer free consultations, a lifetime labor warranty on all our work, and convenient financing options to help you get the home you’ve always dreamed of!
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