Are your doors and windows leaking money?
The Importance of Weather Stripping
Over time, many houses can develop numerous cracks, holes, and spaces through which heat can escape during winter and enter during the summer. These leaks though small can lead to an increase in utility costs over time due to the thermal exchanges with the outside environment that they facilitate. Air leaks can account for up to 30% to 40% of a home’s overall heat and cooling losses.
Besides enabling heating and cooling losses, these gaps also facilitate the entry of unwanted moisture and pests such as mold and termites!
All these factors may end up costing homeowners big money over time. Therefore, it is in their best interest to seal these leaks as soon as possible.
What is Weather Stripping
Weather stripping refers to the addition of a narrow piece of some sort of sealing material that is added in between the fixed and movable sections of a window or door, for example: adding material between a door and its doorframe. This eliminates gaps around windows and doors, thus preventing heating and cooling losses. There are many different types of weather stripping that can be chosen based on the location and the boundary conditions of the system.
Some common types of weather stripping include:
This is a moderately priced and somewhat fragile weather-stripping material. It tends to be easily degraded by friction and exposure to the weather and moisture but produces a very effective seal otherwise. Foam weather-stripping has an average cost of $1.47/ft.
This is a cheap weather-stripping material that has low durability. It is also easily damaged by exposure to weather and moisture and can tear easily during installation. It has an average cost of $0.10/ft.
This is a cost-effective and durable material, but it tends to be more expensive than felt. It can have an average cost of $0.25/ft.
This is arguably the best and most effective weather-stripping technology, especially for doors and windows made from ferromagnetic materials. Magnetic weather-stripping works by having the magnetic strip in the weather-stripping be drawn towards the door or window edge when it is closed. It is also one of the more expensive forms of weather-stripping. Magnetic weather-stripping has an average cost of $20.50/strip.
How are Air Leaks Detected?
Factors that indicate the presence of air leaks are drafts near closed doors and windows, temperature variations in parts of the house, a gradual increase in heating and cooling costs over time, and the presence of moisture in the walls and the insulation. Some simple methods of detecting leaks are:
- Using a flashlight at night or in the dark to see if light escapes through the edges of windows or doors.
- Placing a piece of paper between the frame of a door or window before shutting it. Being able to pull the paper out without opening the door indicates the presence of an air leak.
- Lighting a stick of incense and moving it around the frame of the door or window being inspected. Any leaks present can produce drafts that will disturb the smoke from the incense stick.
- A wet hand can also be used to detect leaks by running it over the door and window frames. Any airflow present will feel cool to the hand because they facilitate the evaporation of water.