My daughter’s apartment windows were in bad shape due to age, deterioration, and misuse by previous tenants. I could literally sit next to the window and feel air coming in. If you have a similar issue, I’ve got the solution. Tried and proven.
Drafty windows in apartment? Here’s what to do:
- Air seal around the inside window frame with caulk.
- Air seal around the exterior window frame with silicone.
- Apply a window insulation film
- Hang insulated curtains to enhance the insulation effectiveness
These approaches may seem overly simplified but the bottom line is they are effective.
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Why Is My Apartment Window Drafty?
The reason for a drafty window is a break in the thermal envelope of the apartment. What does that mean? It means that there is somewhere around the window where air is actively able to leak.
The result of this is that conditioned air can leak out and unconditioned air can leak in. Either way, your apartment is less comfortable and it’s costing you unnecessary expenses on your energy bills.
Whenever my daughter moves to a new apartment, I get the job of handyman. One of the first things I’ve learned to look at after checking the appliances and mechanical systems is the condition of the window and door air sealing.
It’s ridiculous how much energy tenants loose through ineffective air sealing. Many times the company or individual renting out the apartment don’t worry about this because the energy costs are the burden of the tenant.
If you don’t address drafty windows in your apartment, you are throwing money away. Or maybe a better way of saying it is you are letting money fly out of your window!
How To Properly Air Seal An Apartment Window
The first place to check for air leakage in a window is around the framing in the inside of the apartment. This is where the window meets the sheetrock or wood. When two different materials meet there is an opportunity for air leaks.
Examine the area to ensure that there is caulk sealing the space between the frame and the wall. If sealing is needed, apply a paintable caulk. You can run a bead down the edge and then slide your finger along it to press it into the crack and make it almost unnoticeable.
You also want to look for cracks or air leaks between the glass and the frame. This is another common area for windows to allow drafts. Caulk can be applied here as well but i prefer to use a clear silicone. Either will be fine depending on your aesthetic preferences. The point here is to ensure that there are no cracks or seams where air can leak in or out.
Apply Window Insulation Film
Next, we need to address the window itself. Depending on whether the window is single or double paned, there will be very little insulating value in the glass. We can increase the insulation value quickly and easily by using a window insulation kit. This is a thin layer of clear film that you can cut to size and adhere to the window using heat.
The common way to do this is with a hairdryer. As you apply heat and press it into place, the film covers the glass and provides an extra layer of insulation between your conditioned air and the outdoor temperatures. It’s inexpensive, quick, and can increase the insulation R-value of a window by up to 90%!
Make Certain The Window Fully Closes
Probably the biggest source of air loss through an old window comes from the window not closing properly. This could be because there is something in the way that prevents it from closing all the way. Often, however, the issue is that the building structure has settled and the window is no longer square.
Whatever the cause, you want to make sure that you are able to completely stop air from leaking underneath the window. If only a small crack exists when you close it, you may be able to apply a foam seal strip to the bottom of the window. This will compress when you close the window to prevent drafts.
Curtains Are More Than Just Decor
Finally, consider hanging some thermal insulated curtains. These can make a big difference if you feel a hot or cold area when passing the windows. These are the same type that I use in my home. According to the Department of Energy, during the summertime thermal curtains with white interior backings can reduce heat coming into the home through windows by up to 33%. Here’s a link to these type curtains on Amazon.
Solving Drafty Windows From The Outside
With the inside of the apartment windows sealed up, it’s still important to examine the exterior for air leak opportunities. We can be sure that we have done everything possible to prevent drafts in the apartment if we take the time to do this.
Look again at where the window frame meets the exterior (wood, brick, etc.). If there is no caulk or silicone, or if it is deteriorated, then remove it, clean the area.
I recommend silicone for the exterior. I made the mistake of using caulk on the exterior of a couple of my windows and it mildewed. Yuk! I also failed to remove it from areas where I got it outside of the seam because it was white and I didn’t think it would show up. What a mistake!!!
You can buy silicone clear or colored. I purchased a white mold-free silicone when I was ready to remove the mildewed caulk and reseal.
The last area to examine is where the glass meets the frame, just as we did inside. Again, a silicone that is the same or complimentary color of your window frame is fine or you can just use clear. The point is, seal these seams!
This is an excellent video on caulking around the exterior of windows. It’s focused on selling caulk but there is some great information for you on both the caulk and how to use it.
You can buy this silicone off of Amazon at this link.
Broken Windows? Don’t Let That Stand!
If any of your windows are cracked or broken, insist on them being repaired. Your landlord needs to address this issue. Not only are you losing money in energy costs due to air leaking of heated or cooled air, but your apartment is also at risk of condensation, mildew, and mold issues if it is not addressed.
Read this response on FindLaw regarding a landlord’s responsibility in repairing a broken window.
By investing just a small amount of time, effort, and money, you can significantly reduce the waste of money caused by drafty windows. Your apartment is your home. Make sure that the money you are spending to heat and cool it every month is not being wasted.
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