Shut down drafts to conserve a home’s comfort

By: Eric Czarnik | Metro | Published October 10, 2023

  Cameron Hunsberger, from Renewal by Andersen, caulks a door at the Howell Nature Center.

Cameron Hunsberger, from Renewal by Andersen, caulks a door at the Howell Nature Center.

Photo provided by Renewal by Andersen


METRO DETROIT — You don’t have to look out the window to know that the seasons are changing. But as the days gradually grow darker and colder, sometimes it’s easy to feel that change if chilly drafts sneak through a home’s doors and windows.

Shlome BenEzra, vice president of WeatherGard, said drafts can cause several problems to a home. While they can affect a resident’s comfort level, they also can open a path for bugs or even small rodents to enter. And then there is the energy inefficiency.

“It definitely has a pretty drastic effect on heating costs,” BenEzra added.

According to WeatherGard, drafts can happen when there is an imbalance of pressure in the home. And a key entryway for drafts is faulty windows.

BenEzra said improper window installation can create drafts, and he added that “certain builder-grade windows warp after five to 10 years.” The solution to fixing an old, deteriorating window is typically replacement, he said.

Amy Pilarski, Detroit-area general manager from Renewal by Andersen, explained that window drafts can have multiple causes. For instance, she said, a draft may result from a window track getting clogged with debris, which means that it won’t shut or lock properly.

“I think one of the biggest things that we see is that people don’t clean their windows on a regular basis,” she said. “Oftentimes if the lock won’t line up, they just need to clean out the track debris.”

Some window frame types or materials, such as vinyl, are also more draft-prone, Pilarski said.

“Vinyl is going to expand and contract with the seasons in Michigan,” she said. “When it’s hot and it’s cold, a lot of time, the vinyl will get warped.”

Pilarski said most window companies, including hers, will come out and do a free inspection of a customer’s windows. But she said homeowners can also do their part to examine windows for drafts by checking for colder air, condensation, whistling noises, or by looking at the outside of the windows for signs.

“If they see any kind of gap where the caulking will go, that might indicate water leakage or shrinkage of the window,” she said. “Or there will be gaps in the window, so it’ll start to sag. You’ll actually see a smile effect. That’s called the ‘vinyl smile.’”

Pilarski said wood and fiberglass window frames need to be painted every couple of years in order to prevent rot. In terms of more long-term solutions, she said Renewal by Andersen offers a composite window frame material made of thermoplastic polymer and wood fiber that resists seasonal wear and tear.

“When you mix those two products together, the wood can’t rot,” she said. “The polymer can expand or retract with the seasons.”

Pilarski added that there are lots of choices out there in terms of energy-efficient windows, from double panes to triple panes and coatings.

“Now a lot of the windows out there come with some kind of coating on the inside that will help reflect or deflect heat,” she explained. “Glass has come a long way in the last 10 years.”

Pilarski said preventing door drafts is, in many ways, going to involve the same issues. The age of the door comes into play, as both solid and hollow doors tend to warp over time, especially with Michigan’s seasonal weather, she said.

“Depending on what it is, some things can start going bad after seven to 10 years,” she said. “It’s mostly due to the seasons here because we have such extremes. One minute, it’s hot; the next minute, it’s cold.”

Other possible fixes for door drafts include adjusting the door so that it hinges properly, as well as fixing the caulking or weather stripping around the door if necessary, she said.

“After time, the weather stripping can really start to show wear and tear,” Pilarski said.

BenEzra also said the wood components of doors can be prone to rot and swelling over time.

“The door doesn’t shut properly. The weather strips don’t hit exactly where they’re supposed to,” he said. “Sometimes you can repair a door depending on the condition it’s in with new weather strips. But more often than not, if it’s deteriorated, it’s time to replace the door.”

Find out more about WeatherGard in Farmington by visiting or by calling (800) 377-8886. Learn more about Renewal by Andersen of Detroit, in Wixom, by visiting or by calling (586) 352-3527.