No, you don’t have to remove the entire window or door to fix a draft. With a little duct tape and some plastic sheeting, you can seal up the drafty windows and doors yourself.
- Measure the window or door that you want to seal. Write down the measurements so that when you go shopping for new weather stripping and caulk, you will be prepared. You can buy the caulk and weather stripping at your local hardware store.
- Once you get home from the hardware store, clean any debris from around the cracks of your window or door frame to make sure that everything is smooth for when you apply new weather stripping and caulk.
- Apply new weather stripping around your window or door frame using an adhesive on the back of the weather stripping to stick it to your existing frame. This will help it adhere better and stay in place longer than if you simply pressed the weather stripping onto your existing frame.
- Once all of your weather stripping is in place around your window or door frame, apply a thin line of caulk along all of the seams where your new weather stripping meets, as well as anywhere else where there is a crack or crevice that could let in air or water.
What Causes a Draft?
Some leaks around windows and doors are so small that they can’t be felt, but they can still let a significant amount of air in or out. If you have any kind of leak, it’s important to find out where it is coming from.
Drafts around windows and doors are caused by a gap around the frame. The most common reason this happens is that the house has settled over time. The frame shifts slightly, and the window or door moves out of its original position. This causes a gap between the frame and house.
The easiest way to tell if you have a draft is to hold a lit candle against the outside edge of the window or door on a windy day. If there’s a draft, the flame will flicker.
To fix a small leak in the door or window frame, run some caulk along the inside edge of the frame where it meets the wall. It’s not necessary to remove the entire door or window to do this.
If you don’t see a gap but suspect there may be one behind decorative trim, run your hand along it to feel for cool air coming through. If you do feel cold air, fill it with caulk or spray foam insulation.
Fixing a Draft with by Caulking the Outside of the Window or Door
Sometimes you can fix a draft by just caulking the outside of the window or door. You don’t need to remove anything.
That may or may not work well enough. There are two other possibilities:
- You can caulk the inside of the window or door, if you can reach it without taking the whole thing out. The problem with this is that it requires you to work through a tiny hole in the middle of a larger area you’re trying to caulk. That’s hard enough that you may end up making a mess and having to take the whole thing out anyway. So, I’m dubious about this one.
- You can take out just the part of the windows and doors you need to reach, then put it back in when you’re done. This works pretty well for windows; for doors it’s not so easy because there’s usually only one place where you can get at both sides of a door at once, namely, when it’s open (and how are you going to caulk when it’s open?). But if your situation is like mine, where all of your drafts come from cracks on one side of the door (the side opposite the hinge), and there are no other problems with that side of the door (no broken glass, no loose parts), then removing and replacing one hinge is an easy way to gain access to everything you need to work on. The hinge will hold your removed door part in place while you work on it.