If your windows or doors are a source
of chilly drafts all winter long, the
problem could be worn-out seals,
weather stripping or thresholds. Then
again, sloppy installation might be to
blame. When cold weather arrives, hold
the back of your hand near the edges of
windows or doors to track down the
source of leaks. If you feel cold air flowing
out from behind the trim, chances are the
spaces around the window and door
jambs weren't properly sealed.
Plugging these leaks is a time-consuming
job: You have to pull off the interior
trim, seal around the jambs and then
reinstall the trim. But if your doors and
windows are otherwise fairly airtight, the
payoff can be big too. Stopping drafts not
only makes your home more comfortable
but also cuts energy bills (air leaks are a
major source of heat loss in most homes).
Remove trim and examine insulation
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Photo 1: Slice through paint with sharp blade
Slice through paint where the trim meets the wall and jamb. Put a new blade in
your utility knife and make several passes over heavy paint buildup.
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Photo 2: Gently pry trim off evenly
Pry away the trim gently with a flat
pry bar. Protect walls with a shim or a
scrap of wood as you gradually work the
trim away from the wall.
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Photo 3: Pull nails out through back of trim
Pull nails out through the back side of
trim with nippers or pliers. Also
write the location of each piece of trim
on the back side.
First investigate further: Remove one
piece of trim from a window or a door. To
prevent chipping or tearing paint, cut
through the paint first (Photo 1).
Slip a stiff putty knife under the trim and
lift it enough to insert a flat pry bar. Don't
simply force up one end of the piece.
Instead, work along the length of the
piece, moving your pry bar and lifting the
trim off gradually (Photo 2). At mitered
corners, watch for nails driven through
the joint. To prevent these nails from splitting
mitered ends, pry up both mitered
pieces together. Then pull them apart.
When you're removing nails from the
trim, pull them through the back side to
avoid damaging the face of the trim
With one piece removed, examine the
space between the jamb and the wall
framing. If the drywall covers the space,
trim it back with a utility knife. If you see
only a few loose wads of fiberglass insulation
or no insulation at all between the
jamb and framing, it's likely that all your
windows and doors are poorly sealed.
Inject foam sealant to seal gaps
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Photo 4: Fill gaps with foam sealant
Pull insulation from between the
jamb and the wall framing. Seal the
gap around the jamb with foam sealant.
To seal the gap, remove the remaining
trim and inject foam sealant (Photo 4).
Some sealants will push jambs inward as
they expand, so be sure to use one that's
intended for windows and doors (check
the label). We chose DAP Tex Plus
because it's easy to clean up with a damp
rag. Most expanding foams are nearly
impossible to clean up before they harden.
Let the foam harden and trim off any
excess foam with a knife before you reinstall
Reinstall trim in original positions
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Photo 5: Reinstall the trim
Tack each section of trim exactly in its original position with a couple of nails.
Ridges in the wall paint can help you align each piece perfectly. Make sure
the parts fit together tightly at the corners before you add more nails.
Position each piece exactly
as it was originally and tack each one up
with only two nails (Photo 5). When all
the pieces are in place, check their fit. With
only a couple of nails in each piece, you
can make small adjustments by holding a
block against the trim and tapping it with
a hammer. Then add more nails.
If your trim has a clear finish, fill the
nail holes with a matching colored filler
such as Color Putty or DAP Finishing
Putty. With painted trim, it's best to
fill the holes with spackle and repaint.
Lead paint chips are hazardous. If your
home was built before 1978, call your local
health department for information on
testing and handling lead paint safely.