Repair Your Doors and Windows

Learn how to check, replace and recaulk your windows and doors.

| May 2018

  • If the seal around the panes leaks or is damaged, air and moisture can enter or gas can escape, making the insulation less effective.
    Photo by Pixabay/glynn424
  • Through step-by-step instructions and helpful schematic diagrams, "The Home Owner’s Manual" explores hundreds of frequently asked questions.
    Cover courtesy Quirk Books

The Home Owner’s Manual (Quirk Books, 2006) by Dan Ramsey gives advice on inspecting a new home, moving in, redecorating, emergency maintenance, and much more. With plenty of helpful illustrations to guide you along, The Home Owner’s Manual makes household maintenance a breeze. This section gives directions on how to check, replace and recaulk your windows and doors.

Replacing Damaged or Worn Weather Stripping

Because doors and windows are designed to open and close, the seal between these barriers and their frames are not sufficiently tight to keep out all weather and keep in the home’s conditioned air. Weather stripping fills the gaps. However, with use, weather stripping can be worn or damaged and need replacement. To maintain weather stripping once or twice a year:

  1. Open and close each exterior door or window in the home to identify the type and location of weather stripping. Most types are pressure weather stripping of soft material attached to the door or window; the weather stripping compresses against the door frame when the door is closed.
  2. Inspect the condition of each weather stripping part. If the weather stripping is damaged, measure it, remove a sample, and take it to a hardware store for an exact replacement.
  3. Install the new weather stripping using nails or screws by referring to the old weather stripping.

Recaulking Windows, Doors, and Siding

Joints around non movable exterior components such as windows, doors, and siding can be weatherproofed with silicon caulk, a soft material that quickly hardens but remains pliable to fill gaps and reduce air and water leaks. Caulk is available in small or large tubes depending on the amount needed. Larger tubes require a caulking gun, a pressure device that forces caulk out the tip by squeezing a lever. To recaulk annually:

  1. Visually inspect the seam between siding and doors and windows for condition.
  2. Select the type and color of caulking appropriate to the task. Ask a hardware clerk for recommendations based on the application. Usage instructions are printed on the caulk tube.
  3. Remove any loose or dry caulking and replace with a new bead of caulking. Overlap as needed for a complete seal to ensure that water does not enter through the gaps into the home. Pests, too, can enter through gaps or damaged caulking.

Checking Window Seals

Newer windows have more than one thickness or pane of glass. The area between panes may be airtight or filled with an insulating gas. If the seal around the panes leaks or is damaged, air and moisture can enter or gas can escape, making the insulation less effective. Replacing the seal is a job for a professional window glass service or contractor. However, the homeowner can perform a quick inspection once or twice a year:



  1. Visually inspect each window, looking for condensation (moisture) between the panes.
  2. On a very cold day (if locally available), go outside and touch each windowpane. If one of the panes is warmer than others, it may be allowing heat to exit the home through a poorly sealed pane. Inspect for warped or damaged neoprene seals around the edge of the pane.
  3. As needed, call a glass service or window contractor for a second opinion before buying a replacement pane or window. Most window units will require removal and replacement rather than allow on-site repair.

More from The Home Owner’s Manual:


Excerpted from The Home Owner’s Manual by Dan Ramsey. Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books.






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