Draughts are usually caused by small openings in building fabric. When cold air enters internal spaces via these openings it increases load on the heating system, therefore increasing the amount of fuel required to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Draughts are often worse in winter because materials tend to contract when temperatures drop. Eliminating draughts is one of the cheapest ways to reduce heating costs. Areas that tend to create draughts are:

  • Poorly sealed door frames
  • Poorly sealed window frames
  • Base of walls, below skirting boards
  • Behind kitchen units, particularly around service pipework as it penetrates through the external wall
  • Chimneys

It is important to understand that some areas require ventilation. Areas such as bathrooms and kitchens require ventilation to remove water vapour before it condenses on internal surfaces. Extract fans in both areas should meet specific performance criteria in accordance with Approved Document F.

Draughts can become more noticeable during colder and windier spells. However, it is often useful to take this opportunity to identify the source of draughts. QLON manufacture a range of foam seals, which are designed to prevent draughts entering via windows and doors.

If your property already has QLON seals, or an equivalent foam seal, but there is a draught entering via the fitting, perform an adjustment check on the fitting first. In some instances, the door and/ or window can be adjusted via its hinges to achieve a tighter seal around the perimeter. Consult the manufacturer’s product information and maintenances documentation for each fitting.

Retrofitting seals into older, timber frames is also possible. This requires specialist tools which rout a special channel into the frame and accommodate the seal. There are many aftermarket options available and it is worth specifying the correct method of draught prevention for each fitting.

It is often an ideal time to address draughts while undertaking other works, such as replacing bathrooms and kitchens. After the old fittings have been removed, spend some time addressing any penetrations through the backing wall. There are proprietary foam sealants which expand as they set. They can be cut back after they have fully cured. Care should be taken with these products around pipework and other service installations. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Such products can also be used to eliminate draughts at the base of walls, where the plasterboard does not meet the floor leaving a small gap between the base of the skirting board and the cavity behind the plasterboard.

Chimneys are a common source of problems in older properties. If a chimney is no longer in use it may be wise to seal it. If the chimney is in use, ensure that appliances are correctly maintained by a professional installer. Chimneys can often cause problems and so considering their removal might also avoid future problems concerning leaks and draughts.

Further guidance is available on the Energy Saving Trust’s website.

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