Do You Have a Drafty House This Winter? Here’s What to Do.

A drafty house during the winter never lets you forget that improvements are needed. Cold drafts in winter are due to a process known as the “stack effect.” Hot air continuously rising inside a house creates a vacuum that sucks cold outdoor air into the home through various cracks and structural gaps. You may not see the air movement or openings that drive the stack effect, but you’ll definitely feel the effect. You’ll pay for it too: A drafty house in winter prompts higher thermostat settings, which in turn increase heating costs.

Here are a few things you can do to reduce cold drafts this winter:

Stop the Stack Effect

Locate and seal openings in the ceiling or walls that allow rising hot air to escape into the attic and outside. Examples include gaps around ceiling lights, exhaust fans, and kitchen and dryer vents. Cracks along the joints between walls and your ceiling are another suspect. Penetrations where wires or cables pass through the ceiling should also be sealed, as should the frame around folding stairs leading to the attic. Check the fireplace damper to make sure it closes fully.

Keep Outside Air Outside

Close outdoor air leaks that become indoor drafts.

  • Weatherstrip around doors and windows. Use quality vinyl or rubber weatherstripping as opposed to low-cost foam tape.
  • Install door sweeps under exterior doors. New, energy-efficient sweeps seal more effectively.
  • Recaulk old window frames. Caulking eventually deteriorates with age, leading to leaking air.
  • Air-seal electrical outlets. Cold air infiltrating exterior walls enters living spaces through outlet boxes. Install outlet gaskets to seal out incoming air.
  • Seal the gap where the baseboard meets the floor. If the gap is 1/4” or less, use caulking. For larger gaps, use spray foam.

Take Advantage of Technology

Invest in an infrared leak detector to pinpoint air leaks creating a drafty house. Now quite affordable at the consumer level, these devices display temperature variations that reveal air movement.

For experienced advice and professional service to fix a drafty house, contact Paitson Bros., your Wabash Valley source for year-round comfort and efficiency since 1922.

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