Window Maintenance Tips Window Maintenance Tips

Draft Dodging As you gear up for winter, don't forget to check out the airtightness of your windows and doors. A quick and easy way is to hold a lighted match to their edges on a blustery day. If it blows out and the smoke flutters, it's time to stock up on new weather stripping. And get to it fast. Once it gets cold, the temperature makes the weather stripping's adhesive far less sticky.

Weatherproofing Windows

If you live in a drafty house and want to reduce your heating costs, consider insulating with clear plastic window covers. They're easy to install either outside or inside the windows. For outside seals, you simply nail the cover over the window to create dead air insulating space. For indoor weatherproofing, just tape down the edges and blow a hair dryer over the plastic to shrink and seal it over the window. One thing to keep in mind, though: This is a one-shot solution - if you loosen the tape, you have to start all over - so only do this on windows you'll never want to open all winter long.

Warm-Climate Window Tips

In the summertime, the sun shining through your windows heats up the room. Windows with spectrally selective coatings on the glass reflect some of the sunlight, keeping your rooms cooler. Here are some more tips for limited the sun's heat indoors:

  • Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.
  • Close curtains on south- and west-facing windows during the day.
  • Install awnings on south- and west-facing windows.
  • Apply sun-control or other reflective films on south-facing windows to reduce solar gain.

Tips on Opening a Stuck Window

As minor household annoyances go, few raise the blood pressure as fast as a window that's been painted shut, especially if it's a hot summer day. Once your back spasms from trying to muscle it open subside, try this simple solution: Take a sharp blade (such as a utility knife, spackling blade or large X-acto knife) and trace along the edge of the frame, to crack the bond. Still stuck? Take a two-by-four piece of wood, lay it flat against the frame, and tap it with a hammer to undo the paint seal. You may have to touch up the paint job; if so, open the window a few times while the paint dries.

More Caulk Talk

Most houses have enough air leaks in them that would be equivalent to leaving a 2-square foot window open all winter long. Obviously, caulking offers a great opportunity to close that "2-sq.-ft window" and save a lot of money on your heating and air-conditioning bill. A great place to start is on all of your existing windows and doors. All you need is a caulking gun and a few cartridges of high-quality caulk, and you can make your home cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter and more resistant to moisture and bugs all year long.

Foam: Room for Expansion

You may decide that you want to fill the large voids between the window frames and the framing of the stud walls (covered by the window trim boards). This is usually a very good idea. However, be careful not to use highly expanding foams that can actually put so much pressure on the window frames - as the foam expands - that they can be bowed inward, obstructing the free travel of the movable portions of the window.

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