For those that are fortunate enough to have newer technology windows (insulated glass), window maintenance prior to winter is relatively straightforward. Ensuring that windows are truly aligned and latched properly will prevent air and/or moisture intrusion. It is not uncommon, over the seasons, that window sashes are left in a partially open and unlocked condition, resulting in air/moisture leaks. Additionally, ensuring that rubber seals have not been damaged or torn is also important. Simple cleaning of the bottom part of the track will help ensure that the windows will not only seal properly to the sash, but also prevent air, moisture and snow and/or ice accumulation.
For those with older style windows that are single pane glass, including most commonly; wood frames, steel frames, aluminum frames and some vinyl frames, ensure that the windows are sealed and latched properly and that sashes are tight and sealed. Additional measures regarding heat loss would include those windows that are facilitated with storm windows. Storm windows should be also closed and latched and made tight. For homes that are not facilitated with storm windows, the installation of a homeowner applied, shrink plastic will help in mitigating air intrusion in those areas. It is also important to know that these windows cannot be opened and closed with the shrink plastic applied.
The most commonly overlooked windows are those in basement. Most basement windows are less efficient and on many occasions, these are left unattended and in some circumstances, are cracked and broken. As always, make sure that any cracked and broken glass panes are replaced, in the interest of safety, as well as to prevent heat loss and air intrusion. Unused basement windows can be sealed with different measures if natural light is not an issue. Covering the windows with a blanket of insulation or other insulation material, secured and fastened in place and made air tight will also help during the winter months. The lack of daylight will significantly impact the aesthetics and free light in the basement, so this method should be carefully considered. As with all wood framed windows, ensure that the window sash paint is in good repair and many older windows have glazing putty, which is typically cracked, broken and deteriorated, again allowing moisture intrusion. As always with working around windows, we recommend you exercise precaution to prevent damage to windows and personal injury as a result of cracked or broken glass.
Doors are similar in type and usage. Modern doors at the exterior are typically insulated doors, with insulated glass. Ensure that the seals are in good condition and have not shrunk or torn over time, and the same for the threshold at the bottom of the door. If you see any damage, these should be replaced. Older wooden doors have issues similar to that at older, wood framed windows. However, sealing these doors permanently is not practical. Ensuring that the doors are sealed to the door frame is recommended. Most older doors use spring metal to seal the doors. Over time, that spring metal may tend to become torn or damaged or, in many cases, missing. The installation of a self-adhesive expandable foam at the perimeter of the door casing/frame will help mitigate air intrusion. A by-product of sealing of this type is that it helps prevent insect and rodent intrusion. Older, walk-out doors at basements are typically significantly neglected and, it has been our past experience, that most of those older doors do not have thresholds, which does allow for small rodents, such as mice, to gain access during the winter months. The installation of a threshold or seal at these exterior doors would help mitigate that concern, as well as prevent air intrusion. As always, the installation of properly installed storm doors, even with newer doors, greatly reduces heat loss and cold air intrusion. Inasmuch as doors are a higher usage during the winter months, ensuring that those installations are done properly, and in many cases by professionals or those with carpentry experience, is recommended. Also make sure that any newer, add-on doors, such as storm doors, does not affect the traffic flow and the swing of the door is in the appropriate direction to prevent possible wind damage.
When performing maintenance, always consider your safety first:
- Use caution on ladders, and always wear protective eye wear and clothing.