How to Stop Air Leaks around Windows and Doors

Knowing how to seal and stop air leaks around windows and doors can save you money year-round. Read this guide on stopping drafty windows to learn how.
Written by Rochelle Miller-Hernandez
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
Most households lose hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in heating and cooling costs because of air leaks around doors, windows, fireplaces, and other small openings in
homes
.
However, a lot of this waste can be stopped by sealing gaps around your windows and doors. Not only will you save money by making your home more energy efficient, you'll experience greater comfort in your home.
While you can hire
experts
to do the job for you, there are plenty of ways to do it yourself. Here's how to check for air leaks, seal the windows with caulking, and replace weather stripping around doors.
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How to check for air leaks in your home

Check for air leaks around windows and doors. Before you can fix the leaks, you must find them. Sometimes you can just put your hand in front of a window or door and feel a draft. But often you need to do a little more.
If you're unsure if there's an air leak (or where exactly it's coming from), light a matchstick. You can then blow it out and hold it in front of the door or window seal. Watch how the smoke moves–if there's a draft or leak, you'll know by the movement. Another indication is if you can see light coming in from under a door.

How to seal air leaks around doors and windows with caulk

This is a fool-proof method of sealing around the perimeter of the windows.
Materials Needed
  • Caulking tube
  • Caulking gun
  • Putty knife
Remove debris. Using your putty knife, scrape off any old caulking from the perimeter of the window. Also, remove any dirt so the new caulking will adhere properly.
Then cut the seal from the caulking tube and place it in the caulking gun. Make sure to cut it at a 45-degree angle. Only cut off a little at a time as you can always cut more if you need a larger line size.
Apply caulking. Using the gun to steady your hand, slowly squeeze the caulking out as you run the tip along the perimeter of the window and along the seal. When you've completed the task, dip your index finger in water and run it along the caulking to give it a smooth finish.

How to stop air leaks around doors and windows with weather stripping

Materials Needed
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Weather stripping
Remove the old weather stripping. The old material should easily come out with a little tug. If not, you can use a pair of pliers to grab hold and pull.
Measure the area for new stripping. Accurately measure the areas in which you will be placing the new weathering stripping. Take those measurements and cut out pieces with the scissors at the proper lengths. Try and be as accurate as possible as you do not want any gaps in the stripping.
Insert new weather stripping. Place the pieces in the empty slots.
Sometimes weather stripping has adhesive backing. If this is the case, remove the backing before inserting into the slots. Place adhesive side in first.
These are just a few of the ways to stop air leaks around the windows and doors in your home. Simply by checking for leaks and drafts, caulking around windows, and replacing weathering stripping around doors, you can save substantial amounts of money in heating and cooling costs.
You and your family will also experience greater comfort while enjoying time in your home. And with the money you save on heating and cooling costs, maybe you can even add insulation to the walls for greater comfort!

FAQs

My window leaks cold air. What do I do?

If your windows leak cold air, use the techniques listed above to seal the leaks. If you don't have the materials to do so, try putting a cloth or rag around where you think the leak is coming from until you can properly fix it.

How do I seal leaky windows in the winter?

The techniques for sealing leaky windows in the winter are the same as sealing a leaky window any other time. Read the methods above to seal the leak. In the meantime, use space heaters and blankets to stay warm, and try to block any cold air from coming in.
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