Draughty homes

Kiwi homes can be really draughty.  When the wind blows outside, so do the curtains inside!  This is how it used to be in our house, a 1960's brick house with timber joinery.  I love our timber joinery because this has a much higher thermal resistance than aluminium which means a slower transfer of temperature (put your hand on aluminium joinery on a cold day and feel how icy it is, timber won't feel so cold).  But that is another topic for another time.

Both timber and aluminium windows can be notoriously draughty, especially when they get a bit older. The problem with this is twofold.  A gap around our windows means cold air can enter, but it also means warm air, that we pay for with our heating source will escape. Warm air will always find the quickest route out, it's attracted to cold. Draughts are the weak points in our house.

Other common areas for draughts are keyholes, doors, cat doors, chimneys (especially those old open fires), skylights, downlights, yep downlights.  Older downlight units can cause significant draughts and heat loss because not all units are sealed and as heat rises...well, there it goes, up into your ceiling space, not doing you a lot of good.  If you are looking at replacing downlights, look for units that are IC4 rated which means they are sealed and can be insulated over.


So what can we do about draughts? There are lots of cheap DIY options which are really easy to do.

  • cat doors - repair or replace so they at least shut and have no cracks (ok so this one might need a professional, but it's worth it, for you and your furball).
  • chimneys - if the open fireplace is unused (make sure everyone in the house knows it's out of action), fill a bag with screwed up newspaper to block it and then cover the opening with a nice picture (I've seen really great examples of this, get creative!)
  • windows - there is a really great product available from most hardware stores which is excellent for stopping draughts/gaps of up to 8mm!  It's only suitable for wooden joinery, check it out and have a go, it's called -  'VSeal'
  • doors - you can use brush strips that fix to the bottom of your doors or, you could use a draught sausage or a door snake, you can also use VSeal on wooden doors.  If you use foam or rubber strips (on doors or windows), make sure these are not sized too big for the gap you want to fill...the risk is these strips can put too much pressure on the timber which can cause it to warp, Vseal is much more forgiving (up to 8mm gaps)
  • key holes - you can actually buy key hole covers!

What about fixing draughts on aluminium joinery?  This can be done, but often needs professional attention to fix catches and rubbers etc.  Other more extensive jobs include replacing downlights with sealed units (the good news is you can then insulate over top of IC4 units).

We draught stopped our entire house (we don't have downlights!) and the difference was remarkable.  No more blowing curtains and we keep toasty because the heat we generate has less places to escape, so it has no choice but to keep us warm.  See what you can do to plug up those draughts!

If you or you know of anyone who specialises in repairing wooden or aluminium joinery, cat doors or skylights etc who might want to be a part of Tradebank, please make contact with Jo at jo.wills@so.org.nz or on 021 2777 042.