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6 tips for keeping out the drafts this winter

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May 13, 2011

Other than the slow but steady increase of your utility bills, you might not notice drafty doors during the summertime. But when the winter wind comes calling, those drafts can suddenly make your home feel like the dark side of Siberia.

6 tips for blocking the draft

Remedy the drafts with these simple solutions. They are quite affordable, can be done in a day or two, and can keep your home much cozier in the months to come.

  1. Start by understanding your weatherstripping options. You can choose inexpensive foam that can last through a season, or you can go more permanent with a silicon seal and sweep. There are products in between the two extremes, such as custom-cut vinyl weatherstripping, that do the job just as well.
  2. Next, look at the door itself. Is one side particularly drafty? The door might not be perfectly square, and that can cause serious draft issues. Take steps to correct a misaligned door by inspecting the hinges--the most common culprit is a loose screw or a damaged door jamb.
  3. Before you purchase weatherstripping, measure the gaps in the door. Remember, a gap as small as 1/8-inch can mean serious draft problems, so your weatherstripping should fill the gaps firmly, leaving no space for air to infiltrate. Purchase weatherstripping that is just slightly larger than your measurements.
  4. Apply the strips carefully according to the manufacturer's directions. One of the easiest goofs to make it stretching the weatherstripping as you install it. When you do this, the weatherstripping eventually goes back to its original thickness, leaving gaps on the ends. Avoid stretching the material by starting in the middle of a section and working your way out to the edges.
  5. The bottom of the door often has serious draft problems. A door sweep, or a small piece of plastic that touches the threshold, is an ideal way to keep the cold air out. Some doors come equipped with sweeps, while others must be installed. If your door requires a sweep installed, pay close attention to the directions that come with the sweep. Is the gap too big for a sweep to work well? Call a contractor who can help you remedy the problem.
  6. If you're looking for a quick and cheap solution while you work on making a more permanent fix, foam weatherstripping is your best bet. "Draft dodgers" are heavy, sand-filled strips that fit against the bottom of your door as a temporary stop for the lower-edge drafts.

Seal out the cold in a matter of hours, and enjoy your cozy home--not to mention the lower utility costs.

About the Author:

Shannon Dauphin is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. Her current home was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her necessary hobbies.

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