Tom Shafer

Repair weatherstripping while saving for replacement windows

January 11, 2012

If your house is suffering from a winter chill and you've already replaced the weatherstripping around your exterior doors, you might be wishing right about now for replacement windows. In cold weather, you can tell by putting your hand on the window glass inside your house that it's colder than the frame. The high-efficiency glass in newer windows can improve that, but even with more energy-efficient windows you might still feel some cold air coming off the glass.

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So don't fret if you have to live with your old windows a while longer. To stem some of the heat loss right now, you can stop air leakage from around the frame. If the weatherstripping is worn out, too short or missing altogether, the windows might not be closing snugly. The good news is that weatherstripping can be repaired, and it's a quick fix that can save you some money -- money you could put towards buying new windows for next winter.

How to replace window weatherstripping

If you have double hung windows with vinyl jamb liners and you feel air coming in around the sash, the liners could be loose. Remove sashes by tilting, lifting them out of the balance shoes and pulling the jamb liners out.

Open-cell, foam tape found at hardware stores can be applied to the back of the liners. It will push them toward the center of the window. When the sashes are replaced, they will have a tighter contact with the jamb liners, thus blocking the air draft.

jamb liner

Jamb liner

Check the bottom rail of the bottom sash for a vinyl flap or vinyl bulb-weatherstripping. If it has shrunk at the corners or is too collapsed to contact the sill, it can be replaced with a similar type or a self-adhesive bulb weatherstripping. Be sure to pull out any old weatherstripping in the track before applying new.

bottom window rail

Bottom rail

When replacing weatherstripping with a self-adhesive tape, be sure to very thoroughly clean the surface you're applying it to. After cleaning, wipe the surface with alcohol to remove any residual grease. This step provides a longer-lasting adhesion, better performance from the weatherstripping and a warmer home.

Finally, tighten the sash to make sure the sash lock is fully closed and tight. It may be possible to drill new screw holes and reposition the lock part on the sash, which will pull the two sashes closer when the window is locked. This final step reduces or eliminates air flow.

These few small and inexpensive adjustments can make your windows more energy-efficient -- and your home warmer while you save up for more efficient windows.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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