Winterizing Your Home

We pay for our heat. With cash we labor to earn. Then we pump that heat out into the cold winter air in an effort to make wildlife more comfortable. Noble, huh?

There are a few things we can do to slow the heat loss without spending more than we might otherwise with a new set of windows and other structural improvements and repairs.


Drafty windows rob heat, which is the same as stealing your heating cash. Plasticizing your windows creates an air barrier consisting of your windows glass and frames, the plastic film you apply inside, and the stale air between. Rather than be wordy about it, I’ll share a couple videos with you.

Any structural gaps between window frames and walls can be filled with caulk (for small cracks and gaps) and non-expanding foam) for larger gaps. If you find the need to foam, be sure to use the non-expanding type, as it will exert less pressure within the gap, and not deform the frame.

Older wood framed windows have a large area of leakage. This is because the gaps are necessary for them to open and close. Each of these voids needs to be filled with a foam insulating strip to block air flow. Plasticizing the window after this will create the dead space needed to stop heat loss through the glass panes themselves.


Doors lose more heat than you know. You can check for gaps by having someone shine a light along the edges as you sit in the dark on the other side. Another way is to move your hand along the edges slowly in the late evening. This works even better if there is a breeze outside. Cold air will move in through the crack, and then down.

Sealing up a door isn’t too difficult if the jams are in good shape. Checking out the space between door and frame will give you an idea of how thick new weatherstripping should be. The types available to you are numerous. We have used simple compression rubber strips between jam and door face, and even metal strips with rubber embedded along the edge. The first type is invisible when the door is closed. It gets trapped in the space. The other provides a seal against which the door presses when closed.

I chose to install weatherstripping that sits tight. This requires us to use a bit more force when closing the door.

Door Snake. Some people use rice instead….

Clothes Dryers

Your clothes dryer has a vent to the outside. If the exit doesn’t have a flap or door, cold air can be forced into the ventilation tubing and back into your dryer. If you happen to leave the door open, there will be a flow into the wash room or closet. If the flexible hose from the dryer to the wall isn’t tight, it can leak there, too. Seal all connections and install a weather flap outside. A simple bug screen won’t do the job.


Every modern fireplace has a damper in the flue. It keeps cold air in the chimney from coming into the home. If your damper doesn’t seal properly, winds outside can force a draft, back down the chimney, especially if there are other gaps in your home’s winter armor. The more leaks you plug, the harder it is for air to get into the building. You can test your fireplace’s damper seal by setting a candle on the fireplace floor and watching to see how disturbed the flame is. Or, you can tape some toilette paper to the upper edge and leave a streamer down across the front of the fireplace. You might find that air is actually moving into it and up the chimney.

Chimney Balloon, a novel idea.

Wood Burning Stoves

With a properly installed vent, a wood urning stoves should not be backdrafting into the fire box. When it is cold, set up a streamer against the entrance and see how the air is moving.


Storms create pressure situations against your house that you won’t see at other times. If there is a leak, the wind blowing against your home will help you find it! The next time the wind is a blowin’, go around to each window and door, and any other possible entrance, and check for leaks. Treat a leak as a thief. Deal with him.

Update to this story on 12/27/2013

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