3 Steps for Quickly Making Your Home's Old Windows Airtight before a Severe Cold Snap

11 January 2016
 Categories: , Articles


When a cold snap hits your area during winter, you want to do everything possible to keep your family warm without driving up your energy bill. However, if you have old leaky windows with cracks and gaps, they could add an additional 10 to 25% to your energy costs. If you need to quickly make your windows airtight before a looming cold snap, use the steps below.

Step 1:  Fill Cracks in the Glass with Super Glue

The first step involves filling in any cracks in the glass with super glue. While the glue will not permanently adhere to the glass, it will seal the cracks temporarily and long enough for you to ride out the cold weather.

If you do not have any super glue on hand and the temperatures are dropping rapidly, you can substitute clear acrylic nail polish. It won't last as long as the super glue, but it should remain in the cracks for a few days until you can get what you need.

To fill in a crack, start about a half of an inch past one end. Apply the glue in a thick layer until you have reached the other end, ending a half of an inch past it. Repeat for each crack you see, then let the glue dry according to the product instructions.

Once the glue has dried, check for any gaps caused by shrinkage. Apply a dollop anywhere you see a gap. Once the second treatment has dried, you can opt to cover the cracks with two-inch wide clear packing tape. This not only keeps the glue in place, but it also supplies an extra layer of protection against the cold air.

Step 2:  Seal Gaps in the Frame or Sash with Caulk

Once you have filled the cracks in the glass, the next step involves sealing any gaps on or around the window. These gaps could be found where the glass meets the frame, between the frame and sash, or in the sash itself. For this step, you will need a caulking gun, a tube of silicone caulk, and a two-inch wide putty knife.

After loading the tube into the caulking gun, point the tip a half of an inch from one end of a gap, just as you did with the cracks in step one. Then, slowly pull the gun along the gap, filling in the hole completely with caulk. When you reach the other side of the gap, pull the caulk a half of an inch past it.

Before the caulk dries, hold your putty knife at a 45-degree angle and place it firmly at one end of the caulk line. Gently pull the knife along the line, smoothing it out. This helps push the caulk deeper into the gap to provide a complete seal. Repeat the process with all gaps you find.

Step 3:  Cover the Windows with Newspaper or a Thick Blanket

Now that you have filled in all the cracks and gaps, it is time to completely cover the window to add one final protective layer against the cold air. If you have enough thick blankets to spare, you can simply tack them up over the window.

However, if you do not have any extra ones, newspaper can be used to cover the windows. You will need enough newspaper for two layers and a roll of two-inch packing tape. Starting at the top, tape the top of the first piece of newspaper across the window frame. Then, tape additional pieces to the bottom of each paper until you reach the bottom.

Use the tape to seal up any openings between the newspaper and frame. Then, repeat the process for a second layer.

While the above measures can keep your house warmer and your energy bill down temporarily, they are not meant as permanent solutions. Once the weather breaks, you may want to consider speaking with a home window installation contractor about your options for having new energy-efficient windows installed.