Weather-Stripping Tips

Whether you're trying to keep the warm air in and the cold air out — or vice versa — weather stripping is needed in key locations around the home. Check out these DIY basics you should know when it comes to weather stripping.
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deciding if weather stripping would be beneficial

deciding if weather stripping would be beneficial

Figure A

  • To determine if weather stripping is needed around a particular exterior door. Stand outside the door with a flashlight. Have a friend stand inside the closed door. With all lights turned off, shine the flashlight around the perimeter of the door. If you're helper can see light shining through anywhere around the perimeter, weather stripping is needed. (Depending on the placement of the door, this technique may work better at night.)

  • Here's another technique for doors. Try sliding a dollar bill between the door and door-jamb on the locked side. If the dollar bill can fit through, chances are good that weather stripping would be beneficial.

  • To check if weather stripping is needed around windows wet your hand with water, and run your hand around the casing of the window. The moisture on your hand will help you detect any drafts that may be passing through the window perimeter.

  • There are several types of weather stripping. The simplest to use is adhesive-backed foam. Simply follow the manufacturer's instructions for placement around windows and doors to eliminate most drafts. A variation on this style of stripping is a felt nail-on variety, but it's a little harder to use.

  • An upgrade over the foam type is the rubber-gasket variety. The flexible gasket compresses to seal cracks and openings. Some brands have adhesive backing; others can be attached using nails or staples.

  • A door-sweep is a great way of sealing out drafts coming from underneath an exterior door. These attach to the bottom of the door using adhesives or screws.

  • A door threshold also helps to prevent drafts. If your threshold has a rubber gasket that is broken or damaged, you can obtain a replacement at home centers.

  • Shrink-film is an effective technique for sealing windows that won't be opened during the winter. The film is applied over the surface of the window and frame like cellophane. A heat-gun or hair dryer is used to heat the film so that it shrinks taut across the surface.
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