1. Check for Light and Feel for Drafts
The easiest way to check for an air leak is to look and feel around your windows. First, walk around the outside of your house and see if there are any obvious cracks or holes where the building materials from your siding and window meet. During the day, go inside, turn off the lights in your home, and look to see if there is daylight coming through on the sides or at the bottom of your window. On a cold day, hold your hands an inch away from the window frame and feel for any drafts.
2. Conduct a Flame Test with a Candle
If you can’t see or feel air leaks, then conduct a flame test with a candle. Light the candle and trace the outline of your window. If the flame and smoke pull in one direction, then you have found an air leak. If it isn’t clear whether the smoke is moving or not, have someone stand outside the window with a hairdryer, again tracing the outline of the window. If the candle flickers, then the window is allowing air through.
3. Rent a Thermal Camera
If you are having a hard time finding air leaks even with the smoke test, then you can also rent a thermal camera from your local hardware store. The thermal camera can even help you detect energy leaks in your ductwork and roof as well as missing insulation all around your house.
Once you have identified the location, fixing small air leaks is a DIY project that is low cost and won’t take up your entire weekend. However, patching an air leak is a temporary solution. Caulking and weather stripping will stop an air leak, but once you have a leak the window is no longer energy-efficient and you should consider replacement.
To repair an air leak you will need:
To seal air leaks in the window frame and grilles:
To seal air leaks between the lower window rail and the window sill:
After you have repaired the air leaks, check again using the tips above to make sure the window is fully sealed.
If the issue is more significant than a small air leak that can be sealed with caulk or remediated with weather stripping, then you may need to replace your windows. Contact a professional window replacement company if your window frames are rotting or moldy, your windows have become difficult to open or close, or you see condensation on the inside of single pane or in between the glass on double pane windows. Remember, caulking and weather stripping is a temporary solution. To maintain a good seal on your home, your windows will eventually need to be replaced.
If you have noticed any of these signs or your windows are over ten years old, they could be due for a replacement. Schedule a free, no-pressure consultation with one of Brothers window experts to find the best option for your home.