Fixing a Drafty Window or Door

Have you started noticing that as you approach your front door during the winter, the air around you feels colder than if you were standing in the middle of a bedroom? This might be because of a gap between the door and the jamb. Window gaps between the pane and sill also let in cold air. When your home was new, it probably didn’t have this issue. Why? The answer may lie with your house’s foundation.

Door and Window Symptoms

A door that is not level across the upper jamb; a door that gaps at the top or bottom; a door that drags across or sticks on the floor; or a door that is hard to shut or latch could be a result of a shifting foundation.
Foundation problems could cause a window to not sit flush on the sill; a window pane to crack; or a window to stick when it slides up or down.

The Root of the Problem

When a foundation shifts or is subject to outside soil and water pressure, it affects the entire house. Waterproofing your basement and foundation — or at least having a professional assess them — should be a priority.

Quick Repairs and Solutions

It’s best to fix foundation problems, but there are several things you can do to doors and windows to address gaps as temporary fixes. When working with windows, never seal shut a window that has been designed to open, as you may need it for emergency evacuation or for ventilation.


After cleaning the area where the gap is, apply a nontoxic, indoor caulk to the gap. Safe places to apply caulk are around the window trim, between the trim and the frame, and at mitered corners. Again, do not seal the window.


Weatherstripping may look like a crafting item or something you would put on the bottom of chairs to keep them from scratching the floor, but it is a handy and fast item to use. Use weatherstripping on windows or doors to create a draft seal. You may apply weatherstripping anywhere as long as you still can open the door or window.

Draft Blockers

Draft blockers come in a variety of types. Fabric removable ones are good for doors and handy for windows with an inside ledge, such as a bay window, where air leaks are at the bottom. Other door draft blockers (also called door sweeps) can be screwed into a door or come with an adhesive on it. Some are trimmable to fit any angle or gap.

Even It Out

If you are handy, trim a thin piece of wood to match the gap of the window or door and glue it in place. This takes a little time as it requires trial and error until you find the right thickness that can be sanded or planed without splitting.

Best Solution

For windows, redoing the frame and trim and replacing the window works. For doors, you need to add wood (as previously mentioned) and/or trim the door as necessary to make it fit the changed jamb. However, if the gap is a consistent width along the edge of the door where the handle sits, you can add wood to the inside of the jamb and replace the latch system.

In addition to addressing the immediate problems, you should consult a specialist to address any waterproofing issues as well as any potential foundation and/or basement wall repairs. If you don’t, the shift will just get worse and whatever repairs or adjustments you’ve done will be moot points.

Acculevel to the Rescue

Luckily, you don’t have to try to figure out this waterproofing thing alone. Acculevel has been the Midwest’s foundation and basement repair specialists since 1996. We are a family owned company dedicated to keeping your basement and foundation dry and level. Our skilled experts will help you get to the root of your drafty doors and windows. To schedule an appointment, contact us at (866) 669-3349 or [email protected].

Related Articles:
How Long Does Basement Waterproofing Last?
Return on Investment of Basement Waterproofing
How to Waterproof a Basement on the Outside
Assessing Drainage Problems
5 Waterproofing Tips for Ohio River Homeowners

Kelly Kater

Over her twenty year career, Kelly has worked in a wide variety of fields: secondary education, nursing, biology, elder care, the postal service, multicultural development, and academia. She has developed a skill for translating industry-specific jargon into everyday language. Her goal is to share the knowledge and experience of the Acculevel team with homeowners, in a way that is both engaging and informative.

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