Home Inspection Tips – Inspect your Weatherstripping
When it comes to keeping your house warm in the winter months and cooler in the heat of summer, weatherstripping is a necessary task. Weatherstripping simply refers to sealing gaps around doors, windows, and garage doors. Even if your home was weatherstripped when it was built or redone recently, it is a good idea to inspect it periodically.
Over time, gaps can occur which means your house will be leaking out colder air in the summer months and hot air in the winter. In fact, if you inspect your weatherstripping and ensure it is working as expected, you could save anywhere from 10-15% on future energy bills.
The key to weatherstripping a home correctly is to know what types of materials to use and how to use them. This breakdown provides information on how to best weatherstrip a home using one or more of the common types listed below.
Types of Weatherstripping
V Strip or Tension Seal
This is a seal that is made from either plastic or metal. As its name suggests, the material is folded into a V shape that can be placed in gaps and will spring open to seal the area securely. The primary places that you will use this type of weatherstripping is along the sides of windows as well as the top and sides of doors.
This is an easy to install material, making it desirable for many homeowners to try themselves. However, it may cause windows and doors to be more challenging to open and close so take that into consideration before installing it.
Felt offers easy installation although it will be less effective than other materials. This material can be purchased as either plain felt or reinforced with a metal strip to provide some structure. The places that this weatherstripping material will be found is either around a door or window sash. It installs easily with staples or nails.
Although felt is desirable for many reasons, its primary disadvantage is lack of durability. In fact, although it is inexpensive, felt weatherstripping can only be expected to last a year or two. If you are on a strict budget this might be a good option for your specific needs.
Foam tape is made from closed cell foam or EPDM rubber. This is a great material which comes in a variety of widths and thicknesses. It is ideal when you need a material to fill irregular sized openings and cracks. The primary places that it is installed include the tops and bottoms of window sashes or inside door frame.
While foam tape is a reasonably durable material, it can be more challenging to install, making it less desirable for some homeowners. An average DIYer should be able to handle this with ease but a complete novice may struggle at first so know your limitations before taking on a project.
This is probably the most durable type of weatherstripping. Sweeps are plastic, aluminum, or stainless steel with a strip of nylon, vinyl, plastic, or a sponge brush used to fill the space between a door and the threshold.
They can only be installed in the bottom of the door on the interior side. Installation is more challenging with this material as it will have to be cut to the desired width and installed with screws.
Tubular Rubber, Vinyl, or Silicone
These materials are fairly effective and available in a range of materials. The rubber and vinyl weatherstripping comes with a wood or metal strip for ease of mounting. the silicone type is usually inserted into a milled groove. This material can be used at the base of doors and windows, window sashes, and at the bottom of doors.
This material is fairly durable and fairly easy to install. However, they will show visibly when installed which may not be desirable for all homeowners.
Frost Break Threshold
This type of weatherstripping can only be used to seal beneath a door and is made from aluminum or other types of metal. This is one of the more effective methods to limit cold transfer which is why it has become a popular choice.
The only disadvantage of frost brake thresholds is that they are fairly difficult to install. Homeowners will also have to replace their threshold which may be more than you wish to tackle.
Designed for sliding windows and sliding doors, this is an incredibly durable choice, making it attractive for many consumers. Fin seals are made with a Mylar fin centered in pile. The advantage is that it will last quite a while but the drawback is that it can be difficult to install.
Applying Weatherstripping to Your Doors and Windows
Although this task can be done by a professional, many homeowners will have no difficult taking on this home maintenance project. The good news is it is usually a fairly simple task. In order to get started, first decide on the material to use. Review what materials can be used for the particular area and choose based on durability, price, or ease of installation.
After deciding on the material, determine how much weatherstripping you will need. Measure the perimeters of all windows and doors that need to be weatherstripped. Add 5-10% to accommodate any waste.
All weatherstripping should be done only when the temperatures are above 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Weatherstripping should only be applied to clean, dry surfaces so avoid installing during extremely cold or wet weather.
You do not want to see or feel any gaps. You can use a flashlight at night to quickly determine if there are any gaps (light will shine through). You can also try to slide a piece of between the door jamb and the door. If it works, you will need to take some action to seal off that leak.
For doors, you have several sweeps and thresholds to pick from so choose the one that works with your home the best. Start by clearing away any old weatherstripping and ensure the area is both clean and dry before you begin. It is smart to weatherstrip the entire door jamb with a continuous strip on each side. Make sure it joins up at the corners and be sure to use a thickness that creates a good seal but does not make it too difficult to close the door.
For garage doors, the same principles apply…remove, clean, replace, check for leaks, and resolve any issues that remain. You will most likely use weatherstripping that needs to be screwed in so take that into account when looking at the local hardware store for your options.
An easy way to see if you have a leaky window is to light a lighter or match inside the home and run it along the window casing. If you see the flame is disturbed by air coming from outside the home you know your home is not as energy efficient as it should be. Like doors, the first step is to remove old weatherstripping before starting the replacement install.
In order to air seal windows, apply the weatherstripping between the sash and the frame. It is important to check and make sure the weatherstripping does not impede the window operation. Regardless of the type used, an air-tight seal should be the goal. You want to keep indoor air in and outdoor air outside.
Weather-Stripping Self-Installation Versus a Professional
There are many benefits to having a professional weatherstrip your home. These trained individuals will be able to weatherstrip any doors or windows in your home efficiently. If you have never tried weatherstripping before, then you may benefit from having someone trained in this skill. However, if you enjoy home improvement projects, you can usually complete this task on your own. Make your decision based on your comfort and skill level with these tasks.
You should evaluate ad inspect your weatherstripping on an annual basis for the best results. Most weatherstripping materials can be expected to last longer than this but wear and tear, especially during periods of harsh weather may lead to leaks or damage.
Final Tips on Weatherstripping
Weatherstripping your home for improved energy efficiency is fairly easy and inexpensive. It is also one of those projects most homeowners can tackle themselves. Just remember, not only are you trying to conserve energy, but you are also trying to prevent insects and bugs from having easy access to your home.
When done correctly, you should see utility bill savings, and have peace of mind knowing you have eliminated both window and door drafts. With many options to pick from, there is little doubt you will find exactly what you need for your home. Happy installation!
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