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How to find draughts when it's not cold or draughty...Eh???

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But how?

Normally draught detection means waiting for a cold or windy day and then it is a doddle, just going around the house with the back of your hand.

But when it isn't cold or windy how do you find draughts?

The method below allows you to be a draught detective at any time of year.

The rocket science...

A piece of paper.

If you can easily slide a piece of paper in between an opening window and its frame then you have a gap, and a draught. That's it!

A piece of paper is typically a tenth of a millimetre thick. If it slides in freely then you really don't have a proper seal at all.

A tenth of a millimetre doesn't sound much, but of course the gap could be much bigger than that. A gap is a gap though, and it will gently bleed heat out of the home all through winter, especially when it is windy.

It works for any type of window, and any type of door whether UPVC, composite or wooden.


And then on to fixing those draughts

The good news is that there is a very broad range of simple products that with some basic DIY skills and experimentation can be used to fix almost any draught on any type of window or door.

In my opinion there are almost no draughts that aren't fixable with patience and sometimes a little ingenuity.

DIY stores like B&Q have several a number of different draught foams, rubbers, and brushes, but the best source is to look online including eBay.

This is too diverse an area to cover in detail in this post now so here are some tips for now:

General tips on draught proofing

  • Don't assume your UPVC window or door seals were EVER properly sealed. I have seen numerous windows and doors, some recently fitted that had not been adjusted or fitted well from new...and had air leaks.

  • Most UPVC doors can be adjusted with simple tools though this isn't guaranteed to work. It is more likely they will need some sort of self-adhesive foam seals to completely draught proof them.

  • Don't forget doors leading from a home into a garage. Garages have to be treated as 'outdoors' as they are never heated and always loose a lot of heat through the main outer door.

  • There are a plenty of YouTube videos out there on draught proofing windows and doors. This includes this very good one which shows you how to adjust the catches to improve how tightly a UPVC closes for winter months.

  • For wooden doors I've done a very simple specific YouTube video showing how I draught proofed my own front door.

  • If using a self-adhesive foam or sponge draught proofing product don't get to ambitious on thickness. - If you go for something too thick it will make the door or window harder to close and pretty soon the seal will come adrift and fail. - If you find what you have is too thin, it might be possible double up with two layers. -Always make sure any surfaces you stick self-adhesive products to are clean. Using a kitchen cream cleaner is very effective - These products will all say in the product information how much they will happily squeeze down to. The very common product shown in this picture here is 4mm high as you can see, but the manufacturer guideline is that it will fill gaps and 'squeeze happily down' to between 1.5 and 3mm. - Most products like this are available in both light and dark colours.

  • UPVC windows SOMETIMES have adjustable catches, but there is no guarantee that adjusting it will fix a draught issue. In general, if they have a draughty seal you will have to either use a self-adhesive foam product or replace the seals.

  • Replacing UPVC door and window seals is very easy. Again, there are lots of YouTube videos on this.

  • Sometimes gaps in UPVC window seals are caused by loose or worn hinges. See my other article here specifically on this subject.

  • There are companies online (especially eBay) selling samples of UPVC door and window seals that enable you to easily identify which ones are the right ones for you should you want to do that.

  • Once you have done what you need to, the piece of paper test can obviously be used to see if you have been successful!

This is all much easier and cheaper than renewing windows or doors.

Do checkout my other article on an often neglected dead simple and quick UPVC window maintenance job that will extend the life of your windows and keep them draught free.


Info for fellow geeks

UPVC windows and doors have two seals. An inner and an outer. I think it is fair to assume that if there is a gap between the INNER seal and the frame then there is also a gap between the OUTER seal and the frame. I'm not suggesting both inner AND outer need to be fixed. Fixing the outside one is much less practical and even just concentrating on the inner one will give most of the benefit.


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Mark Thompson

Get Energy Savvy - simple practical home energy efficiency information

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