Q: I own a home that's about 65 years old. The exterior walls are not insulated and we have sash-weight windows. The exterior siding is vinyl with foam backing, but the house remains extremely drafty. Short of ripping down drywall and replacing windows, what can we do to fix this problem? – Scott, Blue Point, New York

A: Richard Trethewey replies: When I hear of a drafty house, my first thought is of the windows. Sash-weight windows are notorious for infiltration.

You have a couple of choices. One is to install weather stripping to tighten up the window as it goes up and down. Pay close attention to the area where the top and bottom sash meet, and add a good lock that pulls those two sash together tightly.

You could replace the sash weights and ropes with spring balances. These ingenious devices allow you to insulate where the sash weights were and make the windows tight in their openings. If you are reusing the sash, there may be modifications to the width of the sash stock needed. If the windows are 65 years old, they are also single pane and you need a storm window as well.

Lastly, you can change the window sash to thermopane with spring balances. I did it in my house and it made a huge difference.
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