As winter approaches, it is important to take a look at your windows and doors. Windows and doors that are not properly insulated, weatherstripped, sealed, or installed can end up costing you big money in energy bills through the cold season. Meanwhile, cracks, broken locks, and condensation buildup can result in expensive damages. Here are five ways to prepare your windows and doors for winter, as well as some common warning signs to look for as the seasons change.
Five Ways to Prepare Your Windows and Doors for Winter
1. Check Frames for Structural Integrity
One of the first things to do as a homeowner is examine the strength, integrity, and efficiency of your frames. Ultimately, the frame can be just as essential as the window or door itself. Look for cracks, bowing, or warping. It’s also important to ensure there is no gap between your frame and the wall. A good way to test this is to try and slip a piece of paper into the opening. If the paper fits, cold air can get in, which will increase the amount of energy needed to keep a home warm. If more than one piece of paper can slip in or damage is visible, then normal weatherstripping and caulk won’t fix the issue. It’s time to call in a professional and invest in new windows. SoftLite’s Elements and Imperial Elite windows boast some of the best NFRC and air infiltration ratings in the industry to help homeowners save on energy costs.
2. Install Storm Windows and Doors
Storm windows and doors mount to the outside of a main window or door. They are made from any number of materials, including vinyl, aluminum, or glass, and are built to withstand intense wind and snow. Storm windows and doors provide an additional layer of insulation and help trap excess heat that leaks out. For storm doors that offer optimal performance, check out SoftLite’s Arrival series.
3. Weatherstrip your Windows & Doors
Weatherstripping is a crucial, often overlooked, aspect of preparing for winter. To ensure proper weatherstripping, it is best to have a professional team that will check for visible gaps, spaces, and cracks, then use a stripping made from advanced materials to ensure efficiency. A professional can ensure the weatherstripping is installed correctly the first time, with airtight seals.
4. Apply Caulk to Seal off Drafts
If you notice drafts or intermittent cold spots intruding from pockets around your doors and windows, then cracks and gaps are likely the culprits. Apply caulk around the outside of your windows and doors to improve insulation and seal off any gaps where cold air can get in. If you have previously caulked, and there is still a draft, the window may be beyond help.
5. Repair Broken Windows and Doors.
As the seasons change, it’s crucial that you evaluate the existing condition of your windows and doors. However, there are aspects of window and door efficiencies that cannot be detected by the naked eye, such as high energy bills, subtle drafts, interior rot, or small leaks that can fly the radar until it’s too late. If energy bills have been high or insulation is a concern, these issues could exacerbate in the winter months, and heating units will guzzle up electricity to keep pace. Having a professional inspect your windows and doors is the only sure way to prepare when heading into the winter months.
Signs You Need New Windows
There could be several factors that impact quality of life that stem directly from inefficient windows. For example, windows that block exterior light from entering a home can not only contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the winter but can contribute to higher energy bills as more electricity is needed to raise lighting. If you’ve noticed corrosion or rust accumulation, that could also be a sign that the window will need to be replaced as the weather grows colder.
Another sign that it may be time to replace your windows is the lack of security. A window with worn, outdated, or rusted/broken locks will not be as effective in home break-ins and storm damage.
If you live in an area that is prone to winter storms, not only should a homeowner consider locks to be crucial, but they should even consider upgrading to impact windows to protect a home from strong gusts of icy wind. When a window breaks during a storm, the glass can shatter, which not only creates an immediate hazard but can also result in flooding and debris. Also, if wind gusts seem particularly loud and can be heard clearly from inside your home, it might be time to install windows with a tighter seal and thicker glass, which can not only help provide a quieter home but improve insulation as well.
Truly, the biggest warning signs that new windows are needed are high energy bills. Outdated or inefficient windows will allow more air to enter and exit a home, raising the energy required to maintain the internal temperature. If you feel you’re leaning too heavily on your home temperature units, installing new, energy-efficient windows can improve home insulation and lower your reliance on energy for temperature control.
Signs You Need New Doors
Just like with your windows, be sure to examine your entry doors. Search for noticeable cracks as cracked doors are susceptible to allowing wind or rain to enter during a storm. Visible damage such as indentations, warped wood, or faded color can all indicate it may be time for a change as well. While examining your doors, check for bowing or warping, and run your hand over the frame to feel for moisture buildup as well.
The last thing a homeowner needs this winter is cold spots. If you notice a specific cold spot near your patio or entry doors, there could be a crack. Doors that have cracks or have begun to lose their tight seal can contribute to air leakage. The same can be said for consistent drafts, which also indicate a poor seal.
New Windows and Doors for Winter
This winter, invest in your comfort, security, and lower energy bills. SoftLite Windows and Doors are ENERGY STAR® certified, have a Gold Label Certification from the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), and feature excellent National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) ratings, demonstrating our commitment to creating efficient products. We're proud to continue our tradition of excellence year after year and strive to provide the highest quality windows and doors on the market. For more information on how to prepare your home this winter, head to our blog, or find a SoftLite dealer in your area today.