Chances are, your home has weather stripping to keep your windows and doors sealed. This is a good thing! Proper weather stripping will keep drafts and moisture at bay, which can save you as much as 30 percent on your energy bills. Inspect your weather stripping twice a year (preferably in the spring and fall) to make sure it’s in tip-top shape.
Locate your weather stripping. Weather stripping is a strip of foam or vinyl (often gray or white in color) that rests against your windowsill, window or doorframe. Note: If you have windows that have been installed or updated within the last ten years, you may not have (or need) weather stripping – your home is likely air-tight. Still, we suggest testing for leaks at least annually to be sure.
Test for leaks. To find out if you’re losing heat through your doors and windows, try these quick tests on your home’s weather stripping:
• The dollar bill test (for doors). If you have weather stripping along the bottom of your exterior doors, check if it’s well-sealed with a dollar bill. Place a dollar bill in between the doorjamb and the bottom of the door, and then shut the door. Once closed, try to pull the dollar bill out. If the dollar bill easily slides back and forth, you may need new weather stripping.
• The wet-hand test (for windows). To check if weather stripping needs to be repaired along your windows, wet your hand under a sink. Then, run your hand along the perimeter of the windows. If there are any drafts or leaks, the moisture on your hand will help you detect them instantly.
Inspect for wear and tear. Inspect your windows and doors to see if any weather stripping is in need of repair. Here are the most common things to look for:
• Loose pieces. Have any pieces of weather stripping loosened over time? To fix this, you can often just reinsert the piece that has been pulled loose.
• Dirt and debris. Dirt can often get trapped in or against weather stripping, causing the stripping to wear down over time. If you see any dirt or debris, clean the stripping by wiping it down with a clean, damp cloth.
• Cracks or tears. Look for small tears or cracks visible in your weather stripping. This may be a source of leaks, and the cracks could worsen over time. Tip: Grab a flashlight to shine along your windows and doors to make spotting damage a little easier.
Repair and seal. If you see problems during your inspection, there are a few easy fixes you can do right away:
For windows: If you see a damaged section of weather stripping, simply cut the section out with a razor. Then reattach a new piece of stripping to ensure a snug fit. Tip: You can also reseal your windows with caulk. For a full step-by-step, read: From Bathrooms to Attics: How to Apply Caulk.
For doorframes: Cut metal or vinyl strips to length and then nail them to the frame. Make sure they are flush with the doorjamb. Tip: If you’re not sure what size or type of weather stripping you need, bring the damaged sample with you to your local home improvement store and ask for help identifying the type and material.