Reducing Heat Loss Around Doors, Windows and Floors
If your room feels cold or draughty it could be down to draughts coming in through gaps in flooring, windows, doors or elsewhere and there are many practical steps that you can take in order to ‘draught proof’ your home.
Draughts are caused by cold air getting in or warm air getting out of your home and so dealing with the draughts will mean a reduction in your heating bills. Your house will feel warmer and more comfortable and temperature fluctuations will be reduced.
Building regulations require all doors and windows in new build properties to be draught proofed and ideally all other properties should be upgraded to the same standard.
If you wish to undertake this work yourself, you will find a range of draught excluding materials at Wickes with FREE next day delivery on many orders!
The following information explains how you can draught proof your own home. You can get professionals to do this for you or you can do it yourself, which will save you money. It is simple to do and will normally pay for itself within one year in terms of energy savings.
Flexible sealant cartridge and skeleton gun
For filling gaps such as between skirting and floorboards. A flexible sealant will last for many years when used in this way. Silicone based products are more expensive but are generally less prone to deterioration.
Self-adhesive foam strip
For sealing around windows and doors. It is available in different colours. Damages easily.
Self-adhesive rubber strip
For sealing around windows and doors. It is available in different colours and is tougher and more hard-wearing than foam strips.
For surfaces moving against each other, such as patio doors and sash windows and on the back
of the bottom of interior and exterior wooden doors to provide a movable seal between the door and
Screw-on external door kits
These are perhaps the most effective method of draught proofing an external door.
Compression Threshold Strips
These are fitted to the floor under external doors to prevent draughts and are extremely effective.
Rooms can often feel cold due to draughts rising up through gaps between floorboards or gaps between skirting and flooring. This can be eradicated quickly and cheaply using a silicon sealant cartridge, available from your local DIY store.
These cartridges fit into a dispenser also known as a ‘skeleton gun’ which allows the user to squeeze the sealant from the cartridge in a consistent bead. The cartridge itself is supplied with a nozzle that screws on to the cartridge body and is tapered so that it can be cut to provide a sealant bead of the required diameter.
All you would need to do is vacuum carefully around the gaps to be sealed and then apply the sealant directly into the gaps. If you have not used a sealant cartridge before (and even if you have) it may be wise to mask either side of the join before applying the sealant – the tape should be removed immediately after application as it will be extremely difficult and messy to remove one the sealant has cured. Care should be taken to ensure that air bricks and vents are not affected by sealant as floorboards will rot if air does not circulate freely around the under floor void.
In many cases these sealants will give off a smell similar to that of vinegar while they cure and the fumes can act as a respiratory irritant – open windows or doors to allow affected areas to vent.
There are many different products that can be used to draught proof internal and external doors and the choice will depend to a large degree on the type of doors that you have fitted.
A weather bar can be fitted to external doors where water ingress is a problem or where there is an excessive gap between the bottom of the door and the ground. Other options include a ‘brush’ fitted to the back of the bottom edge of the door to reduce draughts.
An external door seal kit is the best method of draughtproofing the sides and top of an external door. It contains several sections of a seal made from durable EPDM rubber bonded to an anodised aluminium strip which is screwed to the external section of the door frame so that the the door butts firmly against the seal when closed. Because this system effectively forms a second seal around the door and sits on top of the frame rather then between the seal and door, it will not interfere with the normal operation of the door. These kits are available in different metallic finishes so that the metal strip will match your door furniture and they are also available in white and brown so that they can blend into white painted doors and frames as well as those that have been finished using a woodstain. EPDM rubber us extremely hardwearing and will last for many years.
Compression threshold strips are draught excluders fitted to the bottom of the door are the most effective way of stopping draughts from this area. They are made from an extruded aluminum section fitted with an EPDM rubber seal. When the door is closed, a seal is formed between the underside of the door and the floor that is impenetrable to draughts. For further protection it is wise to put a bead of silicone sealant under these during fitting – this prevents water from entering under the device during periods of heavy rain.
If you can feel cold air within the proximity of your window frames then it is likely that you have warm air escaping at around this point – this can be dealt with by fitting a suitable draught-proofing measure such as a self adhesive foam rubber in the case of outward opening windows. This sticks to the frame of the window where the window would sit on top of it when closed and compresses to create a seal. Care must be taken to ensure that the seal is not too thick as this may make it difficult or impossible to close the window.
Modern double glazing units are fitted with an integral rubber seal and so additional or replacement seals would not be required unless the original factory fitted seal is damaged. In this case it would be better to consult with a suitable double glazing installer as a replacement seal is likely to me a more effective route to take than the installation of aftermarket seals that were not specifically designed to work for your window units.
If you have single glazed units in your house then one of the best ways that you can make your house more energy efficient is to fit double glazing. Modern uPVC (sometimes called PVCu) frames are almost totally maintenance free, only needing the occasional wipe down – something that a window cleaner can do for you on request – it also means no more sanding and painting wooden frames every few years. Of course, wooden frames are still available though only the hardwood frames will offer any real durability and they are usually considerably more expensive than uPVC. uPVC is available in a number of wood-effect finishes as well as the more common white finish.
A trip to your local DIY superstore will reveal a range of products and their packaging should give you a guide of which are suitable for your type of glazing installation. One of the options available is a secondary glazing film, which is applied with self adhesive tape and then made to shrink to size with a hairdryer. This provides a basic form of double glazing that does work to a degree, though nothing like proper double glazing. It is also extremely easy to damage once in place and is probably best suited to short term use, being replaced by double glazed units in the longer term.
Secondary glazing is also effective, though nowhere near as effective as double glazing. It is considerably cheaper and will still save you money on your energy bills.
It is important that window frames are sealed correctly from the outside, whether with cement or a silicone frame sealant and if this is not done correctly draughts can penetrate the gaps between the frame and surrounding masonry. If this is the case, rain water can also penetrate the gaps and this can lead to damage to internal plaster work furnishings, and the rotting of wood window frames.
For more information on window units please see our dedicated ‘Double Glazing’ section.
A mortice lock requires a hole that goes right through the door and this can be a common source of draughts. A number of products are available that fit over the external hole to prevent draughts when the lock is not in use. These normally pivot at the top and are simply swung out of the way when the lock is used and swung back afterwards. They can also be fitted to the inside of the door in addition and are typically brass finished to match the rest of your door furniture, though chrome and other variants are now becoming available as lock manufacturers have started to offer their products in a variety of finishes.
An ill-fitting or damaged cat flap is guaranteed to produce a draught – you should obtain a good quality cat flap with a close-fitting flap and strong return mechanism to ensure proper closure. Many types are available and some models come with a coded transponder that is fitted to your cat’s collar so that only your cat can enter your house and prevents strays or neighbours cats from entering and spraying your property.
A letterbox is a sizeable hole in the exterior of your property and if the flap does not close properly you will soon notice the resulting draught. It is important to purchase a good quality flap with a strong return mechanism to ensure that it closes properly after it has been used. An additional interior flap or a brush unit can be fitted to further reduce draughts and to tidy up the opening.
Where to buy draughtproofing materials
If you wish to undertake this work yourself, you will find a range of draught excluding materials at Wickes with FREE delivery on many orders! Click here to view available draught exclusion products.
Draught proofing is an easy DIY job but the organisations below may be able to assist you if you cannot or do not with to do the work yourself.
The National Insulation Association Ltd can provide you with the details of an Association member in your area who can give you more information or a quotation.
Your local Energy Efficiency Advice Centre (0800 512 012) can assist you with further advice regarding all aspects of home insulation and heating.