Combating Draughts in Cold Climates
Stopping Those Air Draughts
Stop air draughts by closing gaps around doors and windows and keep out the cold. The average Australian home has numerous gaps, cracks and unsealed fixtures and fittings (such as doors and stove smoke extractors), that combined, are equivalent to one open window per house. The culprits of such drafts include cracks in floor boards, doors that don’t fit snuggly to door frames, window frames that may have become loose due to slight house movement, vents that are permanently open such as old and unused chimney’s and in some instances cracks or gaps in walls.
Self-adhesive door and window seals are cheap, easy to install and removable. Door snakes make great removable draught seals for rental properties. For owners, you can install permanent draught stoppers and seals around doors and windows for best effect.
Finding Where the Heat is Escaping
Firstly it is necessary to consider how cold air gets in, creating draughts and allowing heat to escape. Possible places to look are:
- Windows, doors and electrical outlets
- Exhaust fans, vents, light fixtures and fireplaces
- Doors and hatches into unheated spaces
- Around plumbing pipes and ductwork entering the home from unheated spaces
- Corners where two outside walls meet or where the walls meet the ceiling and floor
- Floor drains
A good method for finding air leaks is to use incense sticks to create smoke, which is susceptible to air movement. Large leaks will cause the smoke to dissipate and the tip of the incense to glow while slower leaks will cause the smoke to trail away or move toward the leak. Hold two or three sticks together for easier draft detection.
An infrared thermometer can also help you find where draughts are coming from. You can borrow one through the Save Power Kit, available free of charge from many local libraries in New South Wales.
Self-Adhesive Door and Window Seals
A cheap and easy way to stop many drafts is using a foam strip sealer. Many hardware stores sell boxes of fixed length or reels that you can buy by the meter. One side of the foam strip sealer is sticky and the other being malleable to accommodate blocking the air flow between a sealed door and the door frame.
Often this foam comes in a variety of colours and widths so it can be matched to your door or window frames at home. When colour matched, it is hardly noticeable that you have draft proofed your door and/or windows.
It is quite common to find that doors will fit snuggly against the frame in some spots and considerable sized gaps will occur in other parts. Usually doors will fit most snuggly at the hinges and where the handle meets the frame to close. To accommodate for this you might need to stop the foam early or cut it a little thinner in these spots.
Using simple things as door snakes or installing metal door stoppers along the bottom of doors can prevent heat escaping out from beneath doors, particularly when floor surfaces change between rooms for example tile to carpet.
It is worth checking to see if old and unused chimney’s are sealed and of not, getting them sealed.
Many heat and smoke extractors above stoves have permanently open vents which obviously result in heat constantly escaping and cold air entering. Heat exchange will constantly occur even if the exhaust is not turned on and the stove is not even in use.
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