Our House: Winterizing your windows

Updated: Nov. 30, 2017 at 10:30 AM CST
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Mike talked with Zeke Keel from Southern Window Supply about winterizing your windows! To check for leaks, hold a lit stick of incense or match near window and door frames (with windows and doors closed) where drafts might sneak inside. Watch for smoke movement. Note what sources need caulk, sealant, and weather-stripping. To stop the air without replacing your windows, you can take some steps to help. Most of the windows in older homes are wood double-hung type.  These are the windows that slide up and down.  Casement and awning windows, which we find more often in newer homes can be better sealed because they swing into and latch against the window frame, rather than sliding.  If you have double hung windows, the first step is to be sure that you have storm windows installed and that both glass panels, or sashes, in the storm windows are in the closed position, one fully up and one fully down.  It is amazing how many we find that are not closed in the dead of winter.  You can caulk the storm windows in the window opening, but be sure to leave small gaps in the caulk at the bottom to allow moisture drainage.

On your primary windows, often the upper sash is not fully in the up position.  Check for a small gap at the top.  Push the window sash all the way up, or caulk the gap if the window sash can't be moved.  The window should have a sash lock.  The lock is not only designed to prevent thieves from getting in, but should hold the sash tight to the wood stops to reduce drafts.  Replace or adjust the window locks if necessary.  Check the weather-stripping.  It may be missing or worn and time to replace. Lastly, we suggest that you caulk around the casings, which are the trim pieces that frame the entire window opening.  Air often enters between the trim and the wall finishes.  If these steps don't work, it may be time to start saving up more money for new windows. If you have single pane glass you may want to consider replacement. You should also have a contractor or window company come out and assess their condition.  Rot, hail damage, fogged glass are all signs it's time for a professional repair.

Not all situations are the same. In some cases, you may be able to replace just the parts that are old or damaged.  For instance, on some windows, you can have just the glass replaced or if there are just early signs of rot it may be possible to change just that wood piece out.  If these minor repairs are not possible, you can change out the sash and jamb liners, or you may need to tear the whole window out.  Zeke highly suggests going back with a clad wood or all vinyl product for better long-term durability.  You can reach Zeke and his team at Southern Window Supply at 205-945-9832.

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