The recent harsh, plunging polar vortex temperatures, particularly in Chicago, can’t help but expose a home’s weaknesses in keeping out the cold weather. How’s your home faring?
Subzero, windy weather is the perfect time to check all your windows and doors and see how they are performing. Some signs will be completely visible; others you will only be able to feel. But while many problems can be temporarily remedied, remember that any sign indicates that you should think about replacement windows or a new door in the future.
Here are some of the things to look for in this cold weather and what do about it!
Drafts. Run your hand around every crack and edge of your doors and windows. Do you feel drafts? Those are the places where your windows and doors are no longer keeping out the elements. If the draft is between the glass and the window frame, the seal of the pane may be jeopardized or the pane or seal in the window may need to be replaced. If the draft is around the window frame, the fit of the window may be off or the frame materials may be compromised. To conserve energy and keep your home comfortable, be sure to put the replacement of these items at the top of your home improvement list!
Frost. It may be pleasing to the eye, but frost on a window, especially inside, is never a good thing. Frost occurs when cold air on the outside reaches moist, warm air on the inside. The moisture in the warm room is drawn to the cold surface turning the water vapor into a liquid that freezes into ice crystals. Usually, homeowners see the frost stemming from a corner of the window but sometimes we even see it on the frames if the window’s fit is off or the frame itself is weakened. Besides indicating a problem, the biggest problem with frost is that it melts. Then it can discolor and stain paint and varnish and even damage wood or cause mold.
Cracking. Cracking sounds are an indication of building materials expanding and contracting because of the cold air. Sometimes the sounds are followed by physical evidence of a crack in your house frame, rooftop or floorboards. Pay attention to these sounds. If you heard cracking in the top of the house, be sure to schedule a roof inspection in the spring.
While these signs may indicate it’s time to think about some home improvement, there are several, relatively inexpensive things you can do right now to keep that polar vortex air out of your house:
- Seal the Gaps. Visible gaps causing drafts can be sealed with caulk or products such as products such as rubber weatherstripping, which can be cut to shape and placed over seams and gaps where you feel cold air. Just be careful because the adhesive can damage paint or leave a sticky residue upon removal.
- Insulate Windows. Cover windows with clear window insultation films for an extra layer of protection against the elements. Apply carefully to avoid wrinkles or other application imperfections that can interfere with your view.
- Draft snakes are long, soft, snake-shaped, fiber-filled tube that can be placed along the bottom of drafty doors. A rolled up towel will work as well to block that cold air from entering the house. While it doesn’t solve the problem, it provides temporary draft relief until you can install a new front door.
- Invest in double pane replacement windows. Single panes are necessarily more susceptible to frost. Double pane windows capture a cushion of dead air between panes which slows the transfer of heat and old between outside and inside. Replacing single pane windows can prepare you better for the next polar vortex.
- Window Treatments. Cellular shades and heavy drapes can keep the polar vortex winds from reaching you on the couch but will not seal out the cold air. However, in a pinch, they are better than nothing.
- Reduce Frost. Other things you can do to prevent frost on your windows is to run a dehumidifier to reduce moisture in the air that causes frost and to keep your home warm enough at night to keep frost from forming.
The polar vortex cold and winds can’t last forever. Spring is right around the corner and don’t forget that winter exterior home improvement projects are possible too! At Pro-Home Services, we can help safeguard your home from the elements with new roofing, siding, windows and doors. Contact us at 630-790-0800 to discuss your next exterior home improvement.