We all know that windows are drafty. But how does that happen? And how can we fix it?
A draft is created when air can move freely from the room, against the cold window surface, and back into the room. You may think that double glazed windows are fool proof, but glass will always be the Achilles Heel of your home’s thermal performance. Adding a curtain is thought to reduce this problem, but many curtain arrangements can actually amplify it. The most common type of curtain track is suspended on brackets, and holds the curtain 2 inches from the wall. This creates a long gap between the top of the curtain and the wall or head of the window frame. Any gap at the top or bottom of a curtain can cause a cold draft.
The illustration above shows this problem. A free-hanging curtain, that is uncovered, will create a channel for warm air to be cooled against the window. As it cools, heat is radiating out the window, and the cool air sinks to the floor. The falling air creates negative pressure (a vacuum), pulling warm air from the ceiling to fill the void in the channel. It is now a current of cold air.
Step 2: The DIY Fix
A common way to close the gap is to install closed-top curtains called “face-fix” – because they are fixed with screws directly to the face of a wall or window frame, instead of using brackets that suspend the curtain from the wall. This option would not significantly change the look or style of your curtains – but it will close the gap at the top.
A more cost effective DIY approach is shown step-by-step in the illustration below.
1. First, take the curtain down, laying it on a bed or sofa, or somewhere where you can easily access the hooks. Reverse the hooks.
2. Next, pop the curtain track off the brackets and remove the brackets from the wall. Save the screws for step four.
3. Lay the curtain track on blocks on the floor. Drill holes through the track at the same intervals at which the brackets were hung.
4. Using the saved screws, fix the curtain track directly to the wall, but flipped 180 degrees from its former orientation on the bracket. You want the inside of the track to open to the room.
5. With the reversed curtain hooks, you can re-hang the curtain on your new DIY face-fix track!
This article was written by Nelson Lebo, PhD, Environmental Educator