Draught Proofing -Overview

Old houses are famous for their draughts. They come from all directions – under the door and through the key hole, through the gaps in the windows, up through the skirting boards and floor boards and even through ceiling-recessed light fittings. As well as causing significant heat losses, draughts also intensify our discomfort. The movement of cold air over our skin in winter is uncomfortable, regardless of the room temperature.

The builders of the Georgian and Victorian eras were well aware of the discomfort produced by draughts. Homes that are draughty today may not have been quite so draughty when first built. The passage of time will open up fine cracks in the fabric of any building. Nonetheless the reliance on open fires for heating required a substantial flow of air into the building to maintain air quality and feed the flames.

Draught-proofing is an invention of the modern, centrally-heated era.

Whether or not you still have an open fire, your home still needs to be properly ventilated. You need ventilation to provide fresh air and remove water vapour and toxins. It is therefore helpful to distinguish between uncontrolled infiltration, which creates the uncomfortable draughts, and controlled ventilation which ideally provides just the right amount of fresh air without the discomfort of draughts. If you are thorough in your draught-proofing, you will dramatically reduce the uncontrolled infiltration of cold air but you may need to improve your controlled ventilation. This might seem a bit perverse but greater control over air movement means lower heat losses and greater comfort. In practice, however, your efforts to draught-proof may still leave plenty of hidden holes for air to get through so extra ventilation may not be needed.