Maintenance Tips: Weatherstripping 101
Most people can remember the winter chill of walking barefoot to a doorway needing weatherstripping. Brr! Similarly, in the summer, if you have the A/C running and the weatherstripping is not sufficient, you’re paying to pump cold air out of your house, and creating gobs of unnecessary carbon emissions at the same time.
Install new weatherstripping on the sides and threshold of doors and windows and the feeling of warmth seems remarkable. You will find one of the parts of a house affecting energy efficiency can be found in how good the weatherstripping is for doors and windows. And it is not that expensive to buy or difficult to replace.
Begin this simple task by looking closely at all exterior door thresholds. Weatherstripping is generally made with rubberized components attached to aluminum or plastic stabilizers. After a few years, water, weather wear from freezing and thawing, and foot traffic will wear down. If wear can be seen, changing the weatherstripping is called for. Always check the weatherstripping on door jambs, as this is an obvious place where frigid air can creep inside.
You are looking for tears or breaks in the rubberized elements. If all you see are signs of wear or traffic, the weatherstripping is likely okay (though if you can feel cold or hot air moving from one side to the other, well…). On windows, you will be looking for areas where the strip has pulled loose or is torn.
Types of weatherstripping
Most weatherstripping weather-sealing options are available at hardware stores or lumber yards. Look carefully at the parts you wish to replace; if possible, loosen them and take them with you when you search for replacement items.
Some weatherstripping comes in rolls that can be easily cut with scissors. In the case of door thresholds, inspect what you have. Sometimes, if budget allows, it makes more sense to replace the entire threshold rather than just switching out the weatherstripping. This is true for two reasons: door thresholds, especially those on the front or back door, can get pretty worn out from foot traffic.
Below are various M-D weatherstrips:
- M-D Building Products 1-in x 8-ft Brown Vinyl Clad Foam Door Weatherstrip
- M-D Building Products 0.5-in x 10-ft Gray Closed-Cell Foam Window Weatherstrip
- M-D Building Products 1.88-in x 3-ft White Vinyl Door Weatherstrip
- M-D Building Products 1-in x 6.75-ft Brown Vinyl Clad Foam Door Weatherstrip
- M-D Building Products 2.062-in x 3-ft White Aluminum/Vinyl Door Weatherstrip
- Garage door weatherstrip
Look at how much air leaks in during the winter, even with outside storm windows in place. Plan on an hour’s installation time for each window and door.
Tools you will need
- Tape measure
- Utility knife
- Small putty knife
EPA Procedures for changing weatherstripping on double-hung windows
- Clean each edge that will be weatherstripped.
Clean the inside edges of the window frame and the bottom of the sash with soap and water. Make sure to let everything dry completely before moving on to the next step.
- Before cutting any material, measure each side of the window – then cut.
Cut the V-strip material into two strips the length of the sash, plus an extra inch for each side. You’ll also need to cut strips for the bottom of the inner sash and the top of the outer sash.
- Open up the window as far as you can.
- Peel the backing off the V-strip (except for the extra 2 inches you left at the end).
Press the adhesive side of the strip to the inside of the window frame, in the groove that the sash fits into. Then fold the material over, and stick the extra inch (the part you left the backing on) up under the sash. Drive finish nails through the weather stripping into the jamb to hold it securely. Test the sash to ensure it doesn’t catch on the nails.
- Do the same on the opposite side of the jamb, and close the window.
- Now that the window is closed, remove the backing from the extra inch of weatherstripping that should be sticking out above the
Press the adhesive in place.
- Lower the outer sash as far as it will go.
Install the weatherstripping the same way you did on the inside sash – again on both sides of the window. Apply the weatherstripping to the top of the outer sash, as well.
- Put the outer sash back in place. Open the lower sash once more, and install the weatherstripping on the bottom edge.
The V should open facing up so the material condenses when the window is closed.
When do you use caulk for weatherstripping purposes?
Ideally, you will never have to use caulk as a weatherstripping agent. However, there are times when the house structure has shifted enough for cracks or fissures to appear. If so, a latex painter’s grade caulk may be used, or silicone. Just remember, these are more permanent solutions and should be treated as such. If you use latex caulk, you can ensure a smooth-looking edge by moistening a sponge, gently wiping down the caulk trail, then cleaning the sponge. Do not wipe too many times.
No solvent dissolves silicone caulk, so you won’t find a chemical agent in the hardware store that will allow you to wipe away the caulk after brushing it on. Mineral spirits will soften it, but you’ll probably have to accomplish the bulk of the removal by cutting the caulk with a sharp knife and pulling it off with pliers. The process will leave small patches of material clinging to the substrate.