How to Locate and Fix Drafty Areas in the Home

Cold weather is all right outdoors, but not when it invades your home. Before those cold winter winds blow, it is important to winter proof your home. Not only will you stay warmer, but the cost to heat your home goes down.

Find the Leaks

There are several different ways that you can find drafty areas in your home and many of these items are free, or found around the home. Best of all, you can do this yourself and save more money.

Walk around your home for some tell-tale signs. Inspect the door and window areas. Light coming in, or moving window curtains are signs of drafts. When the wind is blowing outside, listen for rattles or whistling sounds around windows and doors. Use your hand to feel around doors, windows, vents, chimneys. If you have a window air conditioner, feel around that, or if your air conditioner is an exterior unit, check the vents where the duct-work enters your home.

Unless you have a good memory, you might want to write down the location of the drafts on paper. If you want an easy reference, draw a diagram of your home with each window, door and vent marked. You can also mark those areas on your house with a pencil.

Filling in Cracks or Gaps

Now that you’ve located the leak or leaks, it is time to fix them. To seal cracks and gaps around windows, doors and vents, use a silicone or latex based fillers. The type of sealant you use depends on where the gap or crack is located. Silicone is used to fix areas exposed to the weather. If you have an overly large gap or crack to fill, you do not need to use an entire tube of silicone to fill it. Use expandable polyurethane filler. This filler when dry can be cut flush and painted to match the color of the area being fixed. Always make sure that the surface you are applying the fillers to is clean or the filler will not stick.


Apply weather-stripping around drafty doors or windows. There are many different types of weather stripping to choose. If you do not know what would work the best for your home, talk to the professional at the home improvement store for advice. You could even take a picture of your home and the areas you want to fix. They will help you make the best decision to fix your home and tell you how each type of weather stripping is applied.

Drafts Around Vents

If the drafts are around a vent or skylight, you can either block it off, or install a sheet of clear plastic at the base of the skylight shaft.

Fixed wall vents that are drafty can be fixed by applying plaster or caulk around the outside perimeter. There is one caution in eliminating drafts around fixed wall vents. If your home is heated with an unflued gas heater, a level of fixed ventilation is required. Do not seal these vents.

Outside Air Conditioners

Outlets from ducted cooling symptoms should also be caulked to prevent your warm air from escaping during the winter. You can also cover roof mounted coolers or window installed air conditioners. Special covers are sold in most home improvement stores, or you can make your own cover.

Exhaust Fans

Check the exhaust fans to make sure the automatic shutters or dampers are installed and working properly. If your house has a chimney that is not in use, block it off. Open chimneys suck the warm air out of the house.

Plant a Wind Break

After you have fixed these problems, there are other ways to help conserve energy during cold winter months. Plant a living fence to serve as a wind break. Evergreens are wonderful trees to plant as a windbreak. They do not drop their needles, and they stay green all year long. Evergreens also provide berries for the birds to eat.

Cover Windows and Unused Doors

Cover your windows with special clear plastic. If there are doorways leading upstairs or outside and you do not use them, cover them with plastic. Or if you do use these doors and they are inside your house, like a door leading to the upstairs, affix some insulation on a sheet of plywood that fits just inside the doorway. You will need to secure it so it does not fall on you when you open the door. One way is to attach it with several hooks and eye latches. Screw the latch or eye part onto the door and the other piece to the door frame. When you want to go through that door, simply unhook the plywood piece and remove it from the doorway. That is what we have on the door leading upstairs.

Attic Insulation

Attics are a major source of heat a loss, so it is important to make sure that your attic has adequate insulation. To determine whether you need to add more, go up to the attic. If you can see the ceiling joists, you will need more insulation. According to Danny Lipford, if you need to buy more, do not get the kind with the paper backing because it can create a moisture trap.

By taking time to draft proof your home, you can experience a more comfortable winter indoors. The right products will last a long time and save you money.


Family Handyman: Weather Stripping Doors

Danny Lipford: How to Find Out if You Have Enough Insulation in Your Attic

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