DraftproofingNovember 28, 2001
Is it time to do something about your windows? This is almost always a job for a qualified contractor with the proper equipment. Still, the choice of what to do and what to buy remains your own, and you'll quickly learn that there is more to windows than glass. With recent improvements in window technology, like the advent of low-emis-sivity coatings, there is more to glass than just glass.
Always consider upgrading your windows before you consider the more expensive task of window replacement. Start by doing a thorough caulking job around the window trim and replacing worn out weather stripping. This can cut down on uncomfortable drafts that rob your home of heat. Next, you could have interior or exterior storm windows installed. The extra layer of glazing would help reduce air leakage and heat loss.
However, if your present frames are damaged or rotting, window replacement may the only option. When shopping for windows, ask the following questions:
Do the frames take account of thermal bridging?
Will long-term maintenance be easy and cheap?
How much does glazing enhancement like "low-e" and argon gas glass improve performance?
Are the tested air leakage rates comparable?
Do the windows conform to accepted industry standards?
Are the windows rated Power Smart?
If you are going to the expense and trouble of replacing windows, make energy efficiency one of your most important considerations.
A lot of energy dollars are blowing away in the wind. For savings and comfort, draft-proofing is a good idea. Adequate air is required for combustion appliances and breathing, and to vent odours and moisture to the outdoors, but you don't have to live in a sieve. Take charge by sealing off excessive air leakage, then provide adequate, minimum, controlled ventilation.
Start with the windows and doors. The right caulking material, properly applied, can block drafts around trim. It may also be time to replace weather-stripping. Know which products can do the best job in each situation.
There are some major air leakage areas in the basement. After construction the sill plate can shrink away from the concrete foundation and leave you with a wind chill factor. Leakage in the header area wastes money and can make the floors upstairs chilly.
Let's not forget the attic. Care should be taken to seal around all the openings in the attic floor, such as ceiling light fixtures, plumbing stacks, exhaust fans and chimney chases. Otherwise, warm moist air can escape into the attic, where it can condense and cause moisture damage. Before leaving the attic, remember to weather-strip the hatch and latch it snugly.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Extreme air sealing will make power ventilating a necessity. Care should be taken to enable all power exhaust systems to have adequate replacement air inlets.
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