How to Find and Fix Drafts (Draft-Dodging for Dummys)

Posted by Steve Vincent on Jan 5, 2015 10:37:59 AM

In draft detection, Home Decor, lower heating bills, weatherstripping

It's official, winter is here in the Triad, it's already cold!  Sub-freezing temperatures at night and highs below 50 degrees are what the weathermen are serving up this week, and that's just a hint of what's to come.

The annual shift in our weather impacts more than just noses and fingers.  It also has a big effect on household budgets as furnaces are activated and thermostats are adjusted higher and higher.  There is one simple thing you can easily do to minimize the impact of winter on your heating bill, and that is to look for and deal with drafts.

A draft is simply a hole in your house that lets the cold air from outside in.  They are most often found around windows and doors and they are easily plugged with adequate weatherstripping.  The tighter you can make your home, the lower your heating bills will be. Here's what to do:

  • Go to a variety store and buy a small box of incense.  You may even find a variety with a scent suitable for this time of year:  bayberry, evergreen, pumpkin.
  • Light one stick and slowly pass it around the edges of every exterior door in the house.  Make sure you pass sides, top and bottom.
  • Note any place where the smoke blows inward, away from the door.  These are the places where drafts are occurring.
  • Repair or replace the weatherstripping around these trouble spots.  If your home is older you may find it easiest to replace all weatherstripping around exterior doors.
  • Pay particular attention to the bottoms - or thresholds - of doors.  These take a lot of use through the years and can wear down producing the biggest leaks.  Sometimes they are adjustable, but in other cases they may need to be replaced.
  • Once you have dealt with the doors,  relight the incense and check around every window.  Check not just the perimeter of the window but also - as in the case of a double hung window - the places where parts of windows come together.
  • Weatherstripping will vary depending on window type, and in older homes with single pane windows, the best solution is sometimes to install storm windows throughout.

If you do nothing more than take care of the windows and doors in your home, you will see a decrease in your heating expense. If you are very motivated, you may also use your incense tool to check for drafts around outlet covers, under sinks where pipes come into the house, fireplace dampers and the like.  The repair for these kinds of leaks will be different - often spray foam for outlets and pipes, or a new damper for the fireplace.

As temperatures head south, I'll remind you that nothing is as cozy on a cold day than a warm, draft-free home.  At GreatNest, we wish you all the best!  And Happy Weatherstripping!