Tips on how to be a winter draught dodger

Kya deLongchamps advises do-it-yourself improvements to seal your windows and doors, or call in the experts, but either way you’ll feel the heat.

The north wind doth blow already this month, and if your windows are rattling out a chilly tattoo, there’s little to look forward to come November.

Even where draughts are not whipping around your ears, take a closer look at your glazed units, including glazed panel doors and ensure they are reflecting annual maintenance.

Windows of change

Is your double glazing failing? Condensation on the outside or inside of the window is not at issue here. 

Inside, if the window is trickling or foggy, the mechanical ventilation needs attention to handle the overly humid conditions created even periodically inside the house.

Condensation on the outside of the glass, signals that your windows are doing their job, and simply sloughing off the atmospheric conditions outdoors. 

However, condensation between the glazed panels is a different matter, whether they are air- or gas-filled (argon/krypton) units.

Thermal blinds fitted over or into the window recess and secured at all sides, can insulate the window and backed up by heavy lined curtains will prevent heat loss and cut draughts where your glazed unit is still letting you down. Ensure the curtains reach right to the floor and be generous with the header.
Thermal blinds fitted over or into the window recess and secured at all sides, can insulate the window and backed up by heavy lined curtains will prevent heat loss and cut draughts where your glazed unit is still letting you down. Ensure the curtains reach right to the floor and be generous with the header.

Droplets of moisture or misting signal that the seal has failed somewhere through a leaking edge, hole, chip or crack, and the performance of the window buffering the space with a layer of warm, stable air/gas is compromised. 

The frame, where it is structurally intact is not the problem. 

Certainly, the glass, if you can tolerate the mung, will never look clean again.

It’s time to consider either a: replacing the entire window, frame and glass, or b: (a relatively new option) replacing the sealed glazed unit with a new insulated gas unit.

Firms, including Energlaze claim as much as 50% can be saved by putting in new insulated gas units rather than taking out the whole frame, and obviously ‘making-good’ is less complex and can be completed in a day.

Rationel does a range of high-grade replacement and triple-glazed windows for new builds. View at the new showrooms in North Point Business Park, Cork. www.rationel.ie
Rationel does a range of high-grade replacement and triple-glazed windows for new builds. View at the new showrooms in North Point Business Park, Cork. www.rationel.ie

Ensure you have your timber, PVC or aluminium frames surveyed by the supplier before purchasing new insulated gas units, to make sure they are in good order.

Energlaze also boast a spacia — a revolutionary new glazing product that is no wider than standard single-glazing, yet boasts the thermal performance of double glazing — ideal for sash windows. energlaze.ie.

Window renovation is covered under the wondrous tax break, the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme. For more information go to revenue.ie.

Checking seals

Even triple glazing can provide cold draughts if the sealing between the window unit and the house is inadequate, or the seal between the insulated gas unit and the frame is coming apart. 

You may feel the draught in windy conditions or even hear a high-pitched whistle as the breeze sings through the gap.

Tips on how to be a winter draught dodger

Don’t let the air exchange in your house go through the windows. Now, whether you’re up to this repair or not is down to inner wisdom, but here are the basics. Remember not to physically interfere with the window frame/IGU surfaces, especially if it is under the manufacturer’s guarantee as you can void it by causing damage.

* Windows in kitchens and bathrooms are best left alone unless there’s a brisk draught, as this passive ventilation will clear your atmosphere of potential moisture problems.

* If there’s a significant breakdown between the wall and the frame, this can be sealed with an expanding foam product from outside or in, but otherwise a roll of commercial gunned silicone seal finished with a PVC trim if you like, will do the job.

* Outside, a rubber seal, termed a gasket, bridges the gap between the glass and the frame. These are easily replaced (cut to length with a non-crushing cutter, on an angle and press into position tenderly avoiding scratches to the glass). These gaskets come in a range of sizes, but universal foam filled styles will seal 99% of window types. Suppliers include doorandwindowseals. com.

* Use slender roll or lengths of foam or rubber product to beef up the seal on opening elements of the window and your external doors too. The rubber compression type of gasket is hugged by the door or window closing and can lose its vital bounce. Their replacement is cheap, easy and effective.

* Don’t over-reach your talent span.

Expanding foam sealants lathered under the frame could potentially push a window out of square. If you have doubts- get a registered contractor to check all your windows and to do this fiddly, but relatively easy work.

Challenging heat escape

Polycarbonate/acrylic panels can be fixed to single glazed windows. There are also soft window films available to shroud the opening in total from draughts. 

For a good primer on rigid retro-fit panels try www.365plastics.ie. 

For heritage buildings, Sky Windows in Little Island Cork, offers quality secondary glazing products, skywindows.ie

Correctly tailored thermally performing curtains and blinds are a further investment against draughty, period or single glazed windows. 

Blinds are useful in that they can be set right into or onto the reveal, forming a soft but useful insulating barrier. 

Tuiss blinds for example offer a honeycomb profile in their DuoLight range, which trap air in small pockets warming up the area over the window and stifling draughts. 

ATuiss Blind.
A Tuiss Blind.

The fabric is almost waterproof, making it suited to bathrooms and kitchens where you might prefer to not seamlessly seal up windows. 

The blind has a semi-opaque, diffuse character. Blinds to order from €29.64, made to measure (measure twice as fit is vital with thermal blind types), www.tuiss.ie. 

Look out for other blind products, largely intended to cool rooms over the summer, that can be sealed to the verticals of the reveal and sit with a brush seal onto the window board. 

Some brands a full aluminium ‘cassette’ and engineered side rails that all but zip the reveal shut, but remember the window must be square. 

Try Blind Express, Hillarys, Acme or any reputable independent blind outlet. 

Ensure you specify whether you want the blind at the edge of the recess or in the recess before ordering online. 

Heavy, generous (2x window width) fully lined curtains luffed on the floor, set right against the wall at the header and kept as close to the wall at the sides as possible are great for tall period windows. 

Velcro retaining strips on the wall are a rather Brownies last ditch effort, but worth consideration to keep problematic, larger windows efficiently cloaked.


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