Reducing Window Drafts in a Historic Building
LESLIE: Belinda in Kansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BELINDA: I live in this apartment. It’s a senior complex. It was an old school at one time. It’s three stories. It was completely gutted. Everything’s new on the inside. New double-pane windows. But I’m – it’s in the northeast-corner building and I’m having an awful lot of problems with drafts and then cold air coming from the walls, underneath the windows. Because it’s brick and stone on the outside and so there’s the air pocket and the inside wall. And so, at night it’s like living inside a refrigerator and try – really, really. And trying to …
TOM: That does not sound very pleasant.
BELINDA: It’s not. It’s not. I lay in bed at night and I don’t sleep. It’s because I’m just listening – and it’s the heat pump, too, they put in these. And so it’s going all night long; it never shuts off. And so I’m just wondering if they would – or they probably could, if they would. Because the National Historic Association is also in on this, being it’s an old building.
TOM: So you’re essentially wondering, Belinda, what you can do because you’re a tenant, right? So you don’t own the building.
TOM: You can’t replace the windows. So what are your options? So you have a couple of options.
So, first of all, if you wanted to spend some money, you could order and install interior storm windows. But of course, your – it’d have to be custom-made to fit the windows and they may be pricey. If you want an inexpensive option, there’s two ways to go. One thing is you could use shrink film, which is basically a window film that gets, essentially, double face-taped to the inside trim and then you use a hair dryer to shrink it so it’s taut and clear.
And the other thing that you can use is weatherstripping – caulk weatherstripping. Basically, it’s a temporary caulk product and it’s clear, like a silicone, but it’s not silicone. And you essentially caulk your windows shut with this temporary caulk. And then in the spring, you can peel it right off. It comes off like in a rubbery strip.
Now, the only thing bad about using the temporary caulk is that you will not be able to open or close the window once it’s done, because it’s pretty much sealed shut. So you don’t want to do this to your bedroom window where you may have to use it to get out in the event of an emergency.
BELINDA: Actually, they pretty much tried all that. See, the problem is the National Historic Association won’t let them do a lot of stuff. And they hadn’t caulked around the cracks, where the frame of the windows meet the window sill and along the walls. So they came up, they did that.
TOM: So let me say that again, Belinda. We’re not talking about caulking outside the window; we’re talking about applying temporary caulk inside the window. So, basically, right around the sash, where the sash meets the sill, where the sash meets the jamb, those are the areas that you typically would not caulk, you would never caulk. But if you use the temporary weatherstripping caulk, you can caulk right over those seams where all of the air gets in. And then, again, in the spring, you grab a little end of it and you peel it and it comes off in one – usually one – solid piece.
It works quite well. You may have to order it if you don’t find it on your store shelves. I know Red Devil makes one. So you could look at – look up that brand.