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Adding weatherstripping reduces drafts.

Q: I live in an older house--more than a century old, to be precise--and most of the windows and frames are original. While they have an antique charm, some of them are a bit drafty as the wood frames have warped and are not airtight. Weatherstripping would help, but I don't think they make any that would fit these window frames. Any suggestions?

--Philip P., Somerville, Mass.

A: You might be surprised--weatherstripping comes in a variety of widths and types, and even if you can't get an exact fit from the store, you can either improvise with a few types of weatherstripping or custom-order the size needed.

Of course, the ideal solution to drafty old windows is to replace them with custom-made, modern frames and windows that seal nice and tight. But that's an expensive proposition. So, weatherstripping, along with a few other tricks, is the way to go in reducing drafts.

Your old windows are probably double-hung, so close each window and fasten the sash lock, watching to see if the lock pulls the top and bottom halves of the window snugly together. If any gap exists, place a strip of vinyl foam tape between the halves. The foam will compress as the sash lock draws the halves together, creating an airtight seal.

Cracks around the window sash can be sealed with transparent weatherstripping tape, or with caulking cord/rope caulk. (Rope caulk lasts much longer, is flexible and--if you live in an apartment--you can remove it without damaging the surface).


Use caulking compound to seal cracks in the sash or frame on the outside of the house, as it's resistant to drastic temperature changes. You can also use it to seal cracks indoors and out, or to close gaps between old wooden floorboards.

Improve energy efficiency further by hanging heavy (insulated), floor-length curtains. Open them during the day so the sun warms the room, and close them at night. Place area rugs on bare floors or even over existing carpet. Run a humidifier in frequently used rooms, as damp air can feel warmer. Reverse the direction of the blades on ceiling fans (a switch can typically be found on the unit near the blades) to move warmer air near the ceiling into the room. Place a draft barrier at the base of all exterior doors.

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Title Annotation:HANDYMAN CORNER
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2005
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