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Most homeowners experience drafts in their houses during the freezing months every winter. The severity of drafts may vary from one property to another and the sheer discomfort and the frequency of cold waves may vary. A house or a room may be drafty for a number of different reasons. It is quite possible there is only one cause. However, multiple causes coexisting simultaneously are also common. Whenever you experience drafts, you should try and figure out the actual cause. Unless you identify the root issue, there is no remedy. Also, you should not wait till your house feels too drafty. Respond immediately when you feel cold waves and nominal discomfort despite the heater working fine.
Common Causes of Draft in Winter
The most common causes of a drafty house are the doors and windows. Both doors and windows are the gateways to the world beyond a room. In case of the main door, it is the gateway for the entire property. All doors and windows can be the cause of draftiness. It does not matter what type of doors and windows you have. Windows that don’t open and are hence completely sealed or self contained will surely be more airtight than windows that open. However, sealed units can also have leaks. The primary reason why a room feels drafty is because there is some source of cold air. You would not experience drafts simply because your heater is set at a lower temperature or the thermostat is broken. You would feel the temperature reducing slowly. Drafts are sudden bursts of cold air and they tend to make a room feel chillier, uncomfortable and at times moist due to the constant fluctuations in temperature that directly impacts humidity.
If you have old doors and windows, if they have been damaged or if they are in dire conditions, then you must contemplate changing them or fixing them. Most drafts are caused or facilitated by doors and windows. It is usually the windows, more than the doors. The latter is much easier to inspect and homeowners usually get to know when they don’t operate properly. Windows are not operated during winters. They remain closed and are expected to stand the test of time and freezing temperature. Old, damaged or worn out windows will not pass such a test. There may be gaps, cracks, holes or other forms of inlets that are allowing cold air to seep into your room.
It is not always the doors and windows though. Any type of fixture installed in the wall, floor or ceiling, from appliances to lights, can compromise the insulation in a room. The room will effectively fail to remain airtight. The fireplace that is supposed to keep you warm and comfortable may also be the cause of draft. If the damper of the chimney is open when the fireplace is not in use, then your house will be too drafty. The other major cause of drafts is the attic. If your attic is not properly insulated, then your house would be too drafty. Unfortunately, many homeowners do not realize this until they check everything else.
Most attics have insufficient insulation. If the attic is indeed the problem, then your entire house may be drafty, not just one room. However, it is quite possible only some rooms will feel excessively drafty and others may seem fine. This often leads homeowners to believe that the attic insulation is not the issue. You must have a professional inspection done to gauge if your attic is under insulated or if there is some other problem. A simple way to know if your attic is under insulated is to observe how fast the snow melts on your roof. If it melts sooner than what is normal, then your attic has insufficient insulation. The snow on your roof will melt before the snow melts on your neighbors’ roofs only when your attic allows the leak of warm air from inside your house.
Be Proactive to Avert Drafts
This may seem to be a little obvious but you can prevent drafty indoors during winter by being proactive during the summer and through fall. If your doors or windows are worn out, if there are significant gaps or leaps, cracks or holes, if your drywall is damaged or if the attic has poor insulation, then this will reflect in your energy bills. Also, your cooling and ventilation units will not seem to be as efficient as earlier. Some of the symptoms may be a little hard to determine or observe but you can be proactive and cautious to identify the early signs. You can then respond in time and resolve the issues even before the mercury plummets below frost point.