Home Winterizing Projects
One of the easiest and rewarding projects for home improvement is to winterize your home. The rewards are tangible as soon as the next cold wind blows or the next heating bill arrives. Best of all, the project doesn't require special tools or hardware knowledge.
The best way to get started with this project is to do a visual inspection of your doors and windows. If possible, it should be done on a bright day with a fair amount of wind. Look for cracks and wind movement along your windows.
Your western and northern windows are generally most important, but it's a good idea to inspect them all. First, just watch them as the window blows. If the curtains or blinds move in the wind, then you need to seal those windows better.
Check the windows for cracks and gaps along the window sill. Press gently on the glass to see if there is any give in the frame. If the glass moves with a light touch, add window caulking.
Now comes the hard part. Measure your windows -- not only just the size of the glass, but also to an inch on either side of the windows or to the surface next to the window where you would attach plastic sheeting or heavier window treatments.
The least expensive way to fix your windows will involve new caulking and interior plastic coverings. The interior plastic on your windows may not appeal to everyone's sense of style and beauty. In that case, consider replacing blinds with heavy, lined drapes.
Lined drapes, either in addition to or instead of blinds, offer many advantages. First, the heavy cloth traps cold air next to the window instead of letting it escape into the room. Second, in warmer months, heavy drapes prevent natural heat created by sunlight through glass from burdening your air conditioning. Third, heavy drapes create an additional privacy protection not offered by blinds.
For older homes or those less concerned about the aesthetics, plastic sheeting on the interior frame of the windows can also block the cold air from entering the room and running up your heating bills. Be sure to write down the window dimensions on your shopping list before heading to the store to purchase supplies.
At the store, you'll need to examine the window-lining kits available and determine what is best for your needs. Some are packaged with double-sided tape that adheres to the window frame and then to the plastic. This tape is super sticky and will pull off several layers of skin if you mishandle it. It can also damage your paint. Test a small area before you apply it to all your windows, and commit yourself to repainting window frames in the spring.
The other thing to look for when choosing the window-lining kits is pre-cut plastic as close to the size of your windows as possible. Hanging the plastic is not difficult, but it is a 2 person job if you have to cut the plastic to the size of your windows while you are trying to hang it.
Finally, you'll need self-adhesive weather stripping. It's usually best to use .25 to .5-inch weather stripping to assure that doors and windows can still open freely. Once you return home, the process is very simple. The paper backing will pull off the weather stripping. It can be used along door frames and at the bottom of window sills to ensure that they are sealing properly when closed. A pair of regular scissors can be used to cut the weather-stripping to the required length.
Then it's back to the windows with the caulking gun. This task is easiest if done as a 2-person project, provided your assistant takes directions well. The assistant should push the glass pane up and in, gently, in order to expose the cracks where the glass is able to rattle in the frame.
Place the tip of the caulking gun in the cracks and move it slowly along the crack while squeezing the trigger. Doing so will create a thin line of caulk on the edge of the window. The directions on the caulk will tell you how long to let it set before you move on.
Finally, tape the upper edge of the plastic about .5-inches above the window on the frame. If your are not able to find plastic that fits your window perfectly, trim the plastic, leaving about 1-inch on both sides of the window to be sure you can stretch it properly to fit. You can always trim off the extra later.
Begin taping down the side of the plastic. If you have particularly long windows, you may want to do half of one side and then half of the other to make certain you are keeping the plastic taunt as you go.
Finally, smooth the plastic down to the tape waiting on the bottom edge and secure the bottom of the plastic. Many of these products then offer a heat option to pull the plastic tighter and create a more secure barrier against the cold. Use a hair dryer on a low setting and move back and forth over the plastic to achieve this effect.
All in all, this type of weatherizing for your home should take less than half a day, but the benefits are amazing. Being able to sit near the windows on a blustery fall evening and hear the wind, but not feel it, should be all the reassurance you need that it was worth the effort. If not, check your heating bill when it arrives and relish the difference.
Click here for advice on preparing your garage for the cold season.