FACT: The drafts that you feel around your home on a cold winter day have very little, if anything, to do with the windows.
And, despite this provable fact, thousands and thousands of Maryland homeowners are replacing windows in advance of the cold weather.
But, I have news for you. Getting your windows replaced will not solve your drafty house problem. There is a reason that there are thousands searching online each day for answers to "why are my new windows still drafty?".
Guess what! The answers to that question are the same as they are to the question:
Why are my old windows drafty?
What causes drafty windows?
In some cases, preventing drafty windows lies squarely with the person who last used the window.
The biggest issue I see is when the top and lower portions of the window (double hung style) are not properly aligned so the lock does not close and there is a "manufactured" gap caused by the last person to operate the window. Many don't realize that the top sash will slip down a bit and needs to be pushed up for the two components to properly connect and create a seal.
Another reason that windows get the blame for drafts around a house has to do with physics and the density of cold air compared to warm air. On an extremely cold day windows can present a feeling that they are leaking air. But, what is actually happening is they are radiating cold off of the glass.
This happens when the air inside is a balmy 73 degrees and the air outside is a chilly 30 degrees. The glass in the window is obviously the weakest link and it gets cold. When the cold radiates off the glass it dives down (cold air is more dense than warm air) and it gives the sensation that there is a cold breeze.
People always describe this issue by explaining how they held a candle or match and it was flickering or blew out from the draft.
To many people's surprise, I usually can prove their theories wrong with proper testing and analysis during a comprehensive home energy audit.
Drafty Windows Meaning
Understanding why windows feel drafty and being able to solve your issue might require hands on learning to really believe in the science.
After I show a homeowner that the windows are not the air leakage source with testing and an inspection I can easily then explain why windows are getting the blame.
REASON WINDOWS GET THE BLAME: when a house has holes to the outside in the wrong places, which is typically the case, the windows will always seem much worse because the root issue is that the house literally has a conveyor belt of cold air infiltrating in other places that cannot be seen, but do exist.
If you are dreading the winter and feel as though your house just can never warm up then try these 5 things you can do yourself.
Just about every single energy audit that I have done where the homeowner was convinced that the windows were the source of their discomfort we were able to uncover other issues around the home that proved to be the real reasons for the problem.
Who Fixes Drafty Windows
When a child has a cold there are two options for treatment. Cough medicine can be purchased over the counter by Mom or Dad and this will treat the symptoms - lessen the cough, lessen the runny nose, lessen the fever, etc.
A doctor, on the other hand, will prescribe antibiotics to get to the source of the problem and kill the infection.
Drafty windows are symptoms of the larger issue. A window salesman is the the grocery store clerk selling you the cough medicine.
Getting your home inspected by a certified home energy auditor is like getting the doctor involved. The auditor is going to point you to the source of the problem.
Drafty windows are solved by taking a whole house approach and considering the entire building envelope, not just the parts you can see through or walk through (doors).
How Do We Fix Drafty Windows
Drafty window solutions are not quite as obvious as it seems.
When you attack the areas of the house that are most susceptible to losing heating and cooling with the right materials and knowledge, the pressure dynamic in your home will actually change. The HVAC system that once could not keep up will seem like new. Cold window glass will not be an issue because the house is more comfortable and efficient all the way around.
So, the way we would fix your drafty windows is by sealing up areas in the basement and in the attic. Since warm air rises, we want to seal up the top so it does not have a place to escape into unwanted places like the attic. When warm air rising is allowed to escape unchecked, cold air streams in from the lower points in the house due to physics and positive/ negative pressure flow.
By using proper air sealing techniques, we can disrupt the pressure dynamic in the house and stop the warm air from escaping so it serves you much better and as a result the the house feels much cozier because all of the systems are working much better together.
Get a home energy audit & get questions answered such as:
Should I use blown-in insulation or rolled insulation?
How much insulation do I need in my attic?
How do I properly vent my crawl space?
Should I remove old insulation from my attic?
What is the best way to seal my crawl space?
Is spray foam insulation the best solution for my home?
Why are my new windows feeling drafty?
Should I insulate the walls in my home?
What areas should I seal to reduce drafts?
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For only $100 through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program - I am qualified to get all of the answers for you!