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Window/draft sealing - how much does it help?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by karri0n, Dec 2, 2008.

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  1. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    Centrally located Isle Royale in a 2000 Sq ft 250 year old house. Very little, if any insulation in the walls. 3 Bay windows, 26 regular sized windows. Partially insulated attic.

    I plan on completely sealing the front door, as it's never used and that front foyer is definitely the worst air leak in the house. You can feel the breeze leaving the house through it.

    I currently have enough shrink-wrap style plastic for some of the windows, and 6 mil non-shrink plastic for the rest. I plan on caulking/siliconing the windows that are leaking as well. I have a can of great stuff, but I don't think I have any gaps big enough to warrant its use. I'm wondering just how much do these steps usually help? Will I be disappointed after all the effort I go through with minimal noticeable results, or will it be shockingly toasty after I finish all this? Also, is the shrink style more effective than the non-shrink? I can see why it would be, as it gets a better seal, however, the other stuff I have is thicker, and puts a cushion of air between the window and the plastic, so I would think that also would help insulate. Any responses or other heat saving tips would be appreciated.

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    This can make a huge difference. Windows are notorious radiators of interior heat to the outdoors. If you can seal them up, then reduce the heat loss with plastic or curtains, the difference will be noticeable. As for doors, if there is an 1/8" gap all the way around a standard door, that equals almost a 30 sq in. opening in the wall or about a 3" x 10" hole. Put some wind pressure on that side of the house and it's like having a window open.


    MOD: Moving to the green room.
  3. oconnor

    oconnor Minister of Fire

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    I just ran thru the Canadian Energuide for Houses program. They have a great book called Keeping the Heat in found here http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/keep_heat_in/introduction.cfm.

    The biggest change we felt in running thru our upgrades were when we replaced the basement windows - it wasn't because of the windows, but because we sealed some big leaks in doing so. The humidity went up in the house, and the temp in the basement stayed more constant, 'cause we were no longer allowing outside air to be sucked into the house.

    Last week we had the sill plate sealed (spray foam in the joist cavities where wooden mud sill / top plate meet the concrete). Tightened up the basement again, to the point were the new windows we installed, and thought were sealed well were now allowing air in, as they became the new path of least resistance.

    All of this, plus the wet sprayed cellulose (wet spray allows for a better air penetration resistance than loose fill - think paper mache) installed in the attic and caulking the attic hatch shut, helps reduce stack effect in our 75 year old 2 storey.
  4. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    So, is the shrink wrap plastic better than the regular sheets, or about the same?
  5. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    In that case, I would assume there would be a lot LESS dead air with the sheets that shrink-wrap on.
  6. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    I woundn't necessarily agree with that. Depends on how and where you install them. They both typically would install int he exact same place and would trap the same air volume, its just that the shrink wrap is clearer. Whats most important is that you make sure the plastic has the most airtight seal you can make when you put it in.
  7. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    I was under the impression that the shrink-wrap type basically seals almost directly on the glass, while the thicker stuff I've been using is a good 4" from it.
  8. DaveM195352

    DaveM195352 New Member

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    I just finished adding plastic to my 15 windows and can feel a major difference - both in drafts and in temp around the windows. And these are good 7 year old peachtree windows too.

    Your assumptions about where the plastic is installed is wrong on both counts. Generally, the plastic is installed on the inside of the house. And I'd suggest leaving at least 1" air space between the glass and the plastic. As was stated by other folks above, clearity - being able to see through the window is ussually the most important factor. Use either the shrink or non-shrink. However, if your using regular plastic, say 4-6 mil thick, I think this is way to thick to get a good seal around the window. What is MOST important in the install, is to get a perfect seal all the way around. Trust me, you'll feel the difference if there are any gaps. Lastly, becareful when you shrink the film, not to heat it to much. If it heats up to much, it will pull the 2sided tape off and leave gaps.

    Good luck - use the shrink film - get a perfect seal all around, and you'll be very satisfied.

    Dave from Maine
  9. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    Thanks for all the replies. The shrink costs sooo much money. 5 bucks for 3 windows. I've been using plenty of tape to assure the regular plastic is getting a good seal, and I can tell it's sealed because with temp changes outdoors, it bubbles inward and when I press it, the air stays put. I'm using the shrink stuff on the windows that we would still like to be able to see out of. I'm just worried that all my effort of sealing up the windows isn't going to do much due to our lack of insulation everywhere else. On the other hand, I did feel a major difference just putting the weather tape around the leaky front door/frame in the foyer. I'll work some more on it tonight, and let you know the results.
  10. DaveM195352

    DaveM195352 New Member

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    Karri.... keep working on your project. it WILL save you money.

    Sealing - or stopping the air drafts / air movement is far more important than insulation. It's the first step. When you feel a draft (around a door or window), thats air that is coming into the house. That air has to go somewhere, and what happens is - it finds it way back outside. So in affect, you have cold air coming into the house - that air then heats up to equal the temp in your house - (your paying extra to heat that cold air). and then that air finds ways of getting out of the house (usually, through the attic). That is air you have heated, now leaving the house. I have read where the typical older house has drafts that can equal an entire window being left open.

    At $3-$4 a gallon for oil - $30,40,$50 in good shrink sealing plastic will pay for itself hands down.

    I can't stress enough - take your time doing the install and get a perfect seal all the way around.

    Let us know how your doing

    Dave fro Maine
  11. Vic99

    Vic99 Minister of Fire

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    For plastic around the windows:

    Plastic sometimes contracts and expands as the outside temperature changes, pulling away from the seal. To reduce the chance of a seal break where the tape holds the plastic, use 2 rows of tape. Think of it as a picture frame around the window and then another picture frame that is an inch wider all the way around. Stretch the plastic tight and try not to use the blow dryer to shrink . . . it can easily be overdone.
  12. dbjc364

    dbjc364 New Member

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    All my windows got different applications-depending on whether I have to look out or not. Two windows are brand new-they get a "Foil-Bubble Foil" piece of radiant barrier at night.Have to remember to take down in the mornings- as the sun will surely melt the hardware.The piece just hides behind the chair.These work fantastic and its nice and cozy at night,which I dont have to see out there at night anyways.Those get stored away to use next year. I buy clear plastic shower curtains- its heavy vinyl and clear to see out on the windows that need that.Less exspensive then the shrink wrap. then the others that I dont need to see but want to let in light get the regular plastic.The north side window with no sun gets more foil-bubble foil,and that stays in place all winter.It doesnt take long to do the windows- I do four one day- then another four the next etc., and it pays off. New construction on the addition and every door and around windows are insulated and chalked.Now insulating the cellar presently,-that'll take another month to be done with that,cost- $450, and a one time application-increasing the warmth of the cellar. In April we're gutting our bedroom and crawl space attic to insulate and remodel.We know that the money spent will be worth it.Knocked 2 registers in our bedroom for heat to go up- and thats already proving to be a good choice. We know it'll be warmer for the next heating season and dollars well spent. A pellet stove installed this year,and hope a wood stove in the near future,discontinuing the use of oil. Mulch hay around the windy side of foundation.Self-building solar applications at present, It doesnt matter that the price for oil is low now-don't be lulled into a trance, it will not always be that low- and will climb again guarenteed-and continue to climb when the ecomony bounces back as surely it will. Will we all be ready for that when it does...?
  13. colebrookman

    colebrookman Minister of Fire

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  14. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    Still working towards completion. Picked up a couple more window shrink wrap kits. The "weather stripping tape" from frost king is NOT holding the thicker, non-shrink plastic on the foyer door or window, nor is it holding on the two windows in my bedroom that I used it for. The tape seems quite inferior even to the cheap double sided that came with the shrink kits. At 7.50 a roll, the stuff is not recommended. I bought some of the thick foam type double sided tape, and will be using this to better secure the thicker plastic. The foyer continues to be my main problem area even though I've got it fully sealed now. will report further results when I apply the new tape. I've caulked a MAJOR problem area I found in the dining room with the wood stove. The edge of the floor under the trim had about a 1/2 inch, 12 foot long gap. After cursing the gap to eternal suffering, I caulked it and replaced the trim.
  15. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    Ooooh! Not good. Probably violates building codes, big time. Exit in case of fire?
  16. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    Plenty of ways out. Plus, a pull on the doorknob will easily remove the tape and plastic from the door.
  17. SE Iowa

    SE Iowa New Member

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    Has anyone tried the commercial-made interior storm window (from any brand)?? I have an extremely tight house (R 44 walls) that seems to magnify the "bad" performance of the windows. We get alot of condensation on the bottoms of the windows in really cold weather. As a side note, this is one "bad" side effect from having radiant floor heat in an extremely tight/efficient home. There is no place for the moisture to go. We try to run our HRV's but we are not there during the days and sllep at night.
  18. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    Yep. Just so long as it's not nailed or glued or caulked or painted shut, etc. Ever try to open a window that has been painted shut? Without smashing it out? You need a razor knife to do it. And time you wouldn't have in the event of a fire.

    I have a downstairs door that leaks some. I seal it with that weather seal tape expressly designed for the job. Just tape over cracks, no plastic sheet. Easy release adhesive type tape. One day in mid- winter, a friend who didn't know better suddenly unlocked and opened that door. It did open, with some repeated effort; also pulled off a lot of trim paint. So the weather seal tape is workable in the event of fire.
  19. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    We have a lot of windows in our house especially in our living room. We installed double row cellular blinds in these large windows and immediately noticed a difference. I've been considering using the shrink plastic on removable frames in other windows throughout the house. I look forward to hearing about the results of your efforts. Good luck.
  20. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    I found the shrink film here in bulk:
    http://www.mcmaster.com/#1014a43/=aruuq

    They call it "shrink-to-fit window covering. This may be cheaper than buyin the kits especially if you don't need the tape.
  21. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    Semipro, thanks for that and for the PM. The tape that comes with the kits is worthless, so I've been using the standard double-sided mounting tape with the "green pattern" backing, if you know what I mean. It hold much better than the cheap stuff that comes with those kits.
  22. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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  23. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Just thought I'd follow-up with a few photos of the frame insert that I built for an opening that leads to a very cold cupola that we rarely enter. I may later buy some Plexiglas to glaze this but for now I'm using the shrink film. I actually burnt through it with my heat gun as I was just finishing up so there is some clear tape covering the hole. I wanted to make sure it worked well before replacing the film. It involves removing about 20 screws and the trim pieces that hold the film in place.

    Immediately after installing this thing I could feel distinctly warm air gathering below it.

    One photo shows it installed in the opening while looking from below. The 2nd shows it uninstalled and laying on the floor of the cupola.

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