The windows in my first home, a 1968 townhouse, leaked water like a sieve. It was then that I learned the importance of sealing windows and doors before winter, not after. Over the years I've kept ahead of the curve, never letting my window frames or doors become damaged through neglect. Here are a few techniques I've picked up for sealing around the house to protect windows and doors and cut heating bills.
Seal French windows
Mullioned windows, in which glass panes are dissected with strips of wood, aluminum, or vinyl, require sealing as they age. For a universal product that works both indoors and out, as well as on wood, vinyl, and aluminum, use outdoor silicone caulk in clear or white, depending on the color of your window frame. Be sure to cut the tip of your caulk tube at a 45-degree angle, which will allow you to seal hard-to-reach corners. Older French windows may need to be sealed on both the inside and the outside. And using a caulk gun will make even distribution a breeze.
Seal exterior doors in three ways
The cracks around your front, back, or porch doors can let in as much cold or hot air as a partially opened window. To seal the bottom of your door, use a weatherproof door strip equal in length to the width of your door. The easiest seal to install fits over the bottom lip of your door, while the hair-brush bottom sweeps beneath it.
To seal the door-knob side of your door (where the crack is typically larger), use a porch door wood strip that comes with a vinyl clad foam seal running along its side. Cut the wood to fit the length of your door, then fit it over the edge with the seal hanging over the gap between the door and door jamb. Be sure to prime and paint the wood and seal to match the color of your door.
Finally, seal the door jamb all around using self-adhesive foam seal. Once a year, it's a good idea to replace this seal as it flattens. Simply peel it off and replace it immediately with a fresh seal, which will adhere to the sticky residue left from the old one.
Seal electrical outlets
Electrical outlets set in exterior-facing walls can let in hot or cold air and should be insulated. Simply seal such outlets using polyethylene foam gaskets, which easily fit under the plastic outlet cover. In addition, seal unused outlets with child safety caps that look like clear covers for the socket.
Seal old wooden windows
Old window frames, especially wooden ones, may degrade or even rot if they are neglected over the years. Before sealing damaged window frames, first inspect their integrity. Use wood putty to fill in small rotten gaps, or replace the wooden strip altogether if water damage is heavy. Use outdoor silicone caulk to seal around the window, then prime the wood before painting it. The primer will protect the repaired wooden frame from further weather damage.
You'll find all the seals mentioned in this article at your local home improvement store.