5 Solutions for Fixing Drafty Windows


When you buy a home, you go into it knowing there will be some upkeep involved in the ownership. A shingle roof will typically only last 20 years, and AC units have a shorter lifespan. Homeowners expect that these things will come up and can plan around them.

Something that proves harder to gauge upfront is the overall efficiency of the home. More than one home buyer ends up asking themselves about how to save on home energy costs.

One of the simpler options is for you to deal with drafty windows. Not sure how to go about checking or how to seal drafty windows? Keep reading for a quick overview of the problem and some key solutions.

Spotting Drafty Windows

Before you can deal with the problem of how to fix drafty windows, you need a strategy to identify drafty windows. In some cases, you can simply feel the draft coming from a window. In other cases, though, you know there is a draft in a room but not necessarily where it comes from.

If you find yourself in that second situation, the easiest way of figuring out which windows have a draft is the flame test. You can use a candle, a lighter, or even matches. You light the candle, match, or lighter and slowly move it around the edges of the window.

If you see the flame dance a bit or even go out, you’ve found the source of at least one draft.

Why Sealing Windows Matters

Sealing windows might seem trivial during nicer weather, but drafty windows can prove costly during deep winter and high summer. As temperatures plummet or skyrocket, those drafts put extra stress on your HVAC system to maintain comfortable temperatures.

That additional strain shows up in the form of higher utility bills for electricity, natural gas, or propane. Spread out over the entire time you own a home, you can end up spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on extra utility costs.

With the how of finding drafts and the why you need to seal them out of the way, let’s look at some fixes for the problem.

  1. Re-Glaze Window Panes

If the windows in your home have panes, the draft can come in around the panes themselves. Why? A putty essentially seals and holds the panes in place in the window.

While effective when new, the glazing putty used on windows panes will eventually deteriorate. Once that happens, the seal breaks down and can let air in or out.

You can remove the old glaze around the panes with a putty knife, just watch out for the push points that help secure the window in place. Once you clean up the old putty, you can press the new putty into place along the pane edges. A putty knife will help you smooth and clean up the putty.

  1. Plastic Film

If you’re just looking for a fix for this year with a mind toward something more permanent down the road, plastic shrink film is the way to go. You use double-sided tape to help you affix and hold the plastic in place.

Once you get the plastic in place around the window, a standard hair dryer will let you shrink the plastic and create a seal around the window. While it doesn’t fix the source of the draft itself, the plastic does add another barrier. The additional barrier helps keep the cold or warm air out of the inside of your home.

  1. Layers

Another method you can use is putting layers around your windows. For example, you may have Venetian blinds. You can put up light curtains over those. That gives you two layers of protection that can help contain cold or warm air.

If you want to take it up a level, you can add heavy drapes. This is particularly effective during the winter months as cold air seeps in. While the air behind the drapes may end up quite cold, it helps separate the cold and warm air in the room.

  1. Caulking

Sometimes, the problem isn’t the window, but the window frame. As your home settles over time, small gaps or cracks can appear around the window and create drafts.

You can use silicone caulking to fill in those gaps and cracks around the window frame and shut down the drafts. When choosing your caulking, make sure you pay attention to whether it’s interior or exterior-grade caulk.

Some homeowners seal around windows both inside and outside. You’ll want to make sure you get exterior-grade caulk for exterior sealing. The exterior caulk holds up better against things like water, heat, and freezing.

For larger cracks or gaps, caulk won’t always do the job. You can use expanding foam for those bigger gaps. A bread knife will help you trim the foam.

  1. New Windows

If your old windows are just more trouble than they are worth, you can go with the nuclear option of full window replacements. Replacing your windows lets you get more energy-efficient windows. For example, if you have single-pane windows, you can upgrade to double-pane windows.

Plus, the new installation should mean no gaps or cracks around the windows.

You get a less drafty home and reap the energy efficiency benefits. If you want to help ensure your privacy, you can also look into the best home window tint. Tinting lets you worry a little less about closing the blinds all the time.

Drafty Windows and Your Home

Drafty windows are more than just an inconvenience that leaves your home feeling hotter or colder than necessary. They’re an ongoing strain for your HVAC system that adds to your monthly utility costs.

You have several options that can resolve the problem. Plastic film and layers around the window are effective short-term options. Re-glazing window panes lets you fix drafts caused by loose panes.

You can caulk around windows frames or even replace windows entirely.