Problems with Old Windows
Over the years, your windows will start to leak air and even moisture. A number of things can cause drafty, leaky windows. The glazing putty will dry out and start to fall off. Likewise, the gaskets and weather stripping will become brittle and crack, compromising the seal. The sashes on wood windows can shrink and create gaps which cause drafts and leakage.
Drafty windows make heating and cooling your house much more expensive than it needs to be. How do you know if your old windows are causing your HVAC system to run more than it should? One way to tell is by the comfort level in your home. If you have noticed your house feels drafty in winter and some rooms never seem to be quite warm enough even though you have cranked up the thermostat, your old windows are probably the culprit. Sometimes the draft coming through a window is very noticeable. In the summer, your air conditioner seems to run endlessly but your house still feels stuffy. Chances are that your old windows are to blame.
Ways to Locate Air Leaks
An easy way to confirm whether your old windows are leaking is with a lit candle. Hold the candle near your window on a breezy day. If the flame wavers, you know it’s a draft coming through the window. You can also use an infrared thermometer to help identify differences in temperature around windows and doors.
Go outside and look at your windows. Look for places where the caulking may have come off. If you can see gaps between the window frame and the siding, you will have air leaks (and possibly moisture leaks) there.
From the inside, look for places around your windows and doors where the weather stripping has failed. It will be the source of drafts and leaks.
Finally, you can consult with a professional HVAC technician or window contractor who can conduct an energy audit for you and help you determine whether old windows or doors are worn out and need to be replaced.
Quick DIY Fixes
Eventually, your old windows will need to be replaced. The older they are, the more likely you need new ones. You should consult with a reputable contractor about the benefits and costs of replacing your windows. Window replacement may be costly, but the cost of running and replacing your HVAC system should be factored into your thinking.
Meanwhile, you can try doing a few things to reduce the amount of leaking, which will reduce the workload on your HVAC system, lower your energy bills, and make your home more comfortable indoors:
- Install v-seal weather stripping along the window sashes.
- Apply rope caulk into any gaps.
- Use a foam-and-fabric draft snake.
- Cover the window with shrink film.
- Install storm windows.
- Install or replace the weather stripping around your doors.
Improve Your Energy Efficiency With HVAC Maintenance
Once your windows and doors are properly sealed, your HVAC system will not have to work as hard. That alone will reduce your energy bills while making your home more comfortable. To further reduce your energy bills, do not overlook routine HVAC maintenance for your system. Here are a couple of tips to ensure that your HVAC system is operating at optimal efficiency.
1. Make sure you replace the filters at least every three months. If the filters become too dirty they can cause the system to malfunction and perhaps freeze up. Dirty filters also can reduce the air quality in your home and aggravate allergies. They are inexpensive, and many people find it convenient to buy several so they have plenty on hand when they need to be replaced.
2. Have your HVAC system professionally inspected and serviced each season. Find a reputable HVAC contractor and establish an HVAC maintenance agreement with them. They will inspect your system and perform routine service on it. Think of it like a tune-up for your car. Their technicians will go over your entire system, inside and outside. They will clean the parts, check connections, and make any necessary repairs or adjustments. This small step could prevent a system failure in the heat of the summer or on a cold winter night. If you do need emergency service, the contract most likely entitles you to priority service over other customers who do not have such an agreement.
Keeping your HVAC system in good working order is one of the best ways to get the optimum use out of it and prolong its life. A professional and reliable technician can share other beneficial energy savings advice outside of HVAC maintenance based on your home and lifestyle.