Even well insulated homes can be hard to heat if draughts constantly replace hot air with cold air. Blocking up draughts is usually cheap and relatively easy to do. There are simple tricks for finding draughts - on a windy day look for curtain movement, or use a candle to trace the source of your draughts.
Common sources of draughts and simple solutions
Doors and windows
- Check hinges and catches or latches - if they’re loose, tighten them up. If they don't fit in their frames snugly, find out how to repair them.
- Add weather stripping - to seal gaps around most doors or windows. Check your hardware store for the right types to use.
- Seal door or window trims - with clear or paintable sealant.
- Fit draught excluders - for gaps under doors. Use brush strip types for internal doors, and spring loaded automatic seals for external doors.
- Replace damaged rubber seals - around aluminium joinery.
Chimneys and fireplaces
- Close gaps around the chimney - where it goes up through the ceiling - using a non-combustible sealant.
- Block the chimney of unused fireplaces - a rubbish bag filled with shredded newspapers works well. Make sure the bag is very obvious so no one tries to light the fire with a blocked chimney.
Ceilings and floors
- Make sure the ceiling hatch is correctly fitted - and use weather stripping to seal it.
- Insulate to help seal gaps between floorboards - install bulk underfloor insulation hard up against the floorboards to help reduce draughts coming in through the gaps. It will also reduce heat loss through the floor in general.
- Seal skirting boards and cornices - use flexible silicon-based or latex sealants to seal the top and bottom, or remove them and foam the gap where the floor and wall or the ceiling and wall meet.
Appliances and lighting
- Seal gaps around electrical wiring and plumbing passages - use silicone sealants (for smaller gaps) or polyurethane foam (for bigger gaps). These passages are often hidden, so don't forget to look behind kitchen and bathroom cabinetry as well as inside wardrobes and hot water cupboards.
- Check extractor fans and rangehoods - models with backdraught shutters help prevent draughts. If you have them, make sure the shutter is working properly.
Check recessed downlights for air leakage
This can be a real problem with older style downlights installed before mid-2012. We recommend replacing these older downlights with surface-mounted or suspended light fittings, or modern IC or IC-F rated LED downlights that are better sealed and can be covered with insulation.
Choosing and fitting weather stripping
You can seal gaps around openable wooden windows and doors with weather stripping - it's cheap to buy and easy to install. Common DIY weather stripping products available from selected hardware and online stores include:
- Self-adhesive foam draught seals - quick and easy to install, but become less effective over time due to permanent set (memory). They’re available in varying thicknesses to suit different gap sizes.
- Self-adhesive V-seal - made from a plastic strip folded into a V-shape which moulds itself to the gap. It’s very versatile as it fits a wide range of gap thicknesses, is effective for uneven gaps and can be used for both hinged and sliding doors, and windows.
- Self-adhesive soft rubber seals - provide durable compression seals and come in varying shapes and sizes to suit different applications and gap sizes.
- Self-adhesive soft woven pile draught seals - suitable for sliding door and window applications.
Make sure you choose the right product for the job, and the right thickness. Measure the size of the gap by opening the door or window and seeing how many pages of a notepad, magazine or book you can fit into the gap. Then measure their thickness. Clean the paint surface before installing self-adhesive seals or the strip won't stick.
Traditional single or double-hung windows can be difficult to seal. You can seal any that you no longer need to open with a suitable flexible silicon-based or latex sealant.
Blower door test
For a thorough and accurate assessment of air leakage in your home, you can hire a qualified technician to conduct a blower door test. This test is usually only worth considering if you’re building new or undertaking a major retrofit project so that you can actually seal any identified leaks effectively.