Tag Archives: Windows

Where ladybugs go to die

Last night, in a fit of spring energy mixed with winter disgust, I mopped the floors and pulled down some of the window plastic. Everything seems much brighter. The tile is a much cheerier sandy orange. Though I’ve gotten pretty good at shrinkwrapping my windows so you can’t really tell, the film is indeed a film. Now that it’s gone, the whole room seems brighter.

I was as careful as I could be removing the plastic. Even, so, I accidentally peeled up a couple chunks of windowsill paint in my bedroom. Fortunately, they’re windowsills I painted when I moved in (and removed the baseball wallpaper), so I have plenty of spare paint. It should be a relatively quick touchup some dreary day.

However, I was amazed – shocked, nearly – at the volume of dead ladybugs trapped between the window glass and the film! Most windows had at least three or four beetle bodies, but some – namely the upstairs hallway and bathroom – had a dozen, easy. In the fall, when they start coming in to the house, Collette has a field day chasing them, trapping them under her paws, and crunching them as they try to fly away. She didn’t seem too interested in the long-dead carcases, though.

I wonder how they got there, though. My seals were pretty tight, so they must have wriggled in through both the storm window and the glass. The storm windows wouldn’t surprise me, since they’re old and don’t really fit snugly. The glass itself is a bit concerning, though. Both those windows are on my list to replace sooner rather than later, and they’re exactly the same size and age – big and old.

I can just imagine a whole line of them seeking shelter from the cold October nights, crawling towards the house, hurtling the storm window, and glass before getting trapped by the film.

Unless, of course, I’ve disproved Redi and Pasteur. Maybe there really is spontaneous generation and my house should be a research site!

The Fallacy of Rope Caulk

Every year, I spend a lot of time trying to weatherproof my leaky windows. This stretches back to the apartment days, when my ancient bedroom windows would rattle back and forth with the slightest breeze.

When I can find it, I like removable caulk. It goes on like normal caulk, but dries to the consistency of rubber cement. Come spring, it’s pretty simple to just peel it off, as long as you have enough patience to take your time and not accidentally remove the varnish or paint around the windows. Even so, it’s relatively pricey – especially when you consider how many old, drafty windows I have! – and can be hard to find. I found some very early in the season at Wal-Mart, but despite hunting, I didn’t find another tube until nearly Christmas at an Ace.

For the best possible weatherproofing, I use removable caulk, let it set, and then shrink wrap the windows. This combination works really well, and I use it in areas that it makes a huge difference – namely the living room and my office. In the very few rooms with new windows, I either don’t bother (kitchen, since the time I spend in there is often over a hot stove), or I only shrink wrap (my bedroom).

However, one of the biggest energy losers in the house is my lovely porch, or three-season room. With eleven windows, all of them old and drafty (and one cracked – on my spring project list), it leaks like a sieve. And the giant window between the porch and the living room allows a ton of this frigid air through, despite sealing that window. But it’s not worth the immense time and effort it would take to shrink wrap the whole room. So this year, I tried rope caulk. I’d used it before to middling success in my old apartment, so I bought a roll and spent a November morning wrangling it into place. It presses into place pretty easily- I used my fingers and a putty knife. But I’ve found it doesn’t stay put. Every time I go onto the porch to get my mail, there seems to be another piece of rope caulk on the ground, having fallen from its home. At first, I’d diligently search for its origin and lovingly replace it. But now, I don’t bother – and it seems fully half of what I originally installed has fallen. The cat is delighted – she sees the pieces, usually at least 6-8 inches long, as toys for her stealthy forays onto the porch.

It may be user error on the part of the installer – was it too cold that morning? – or maybe it’s just an inferior product. Ideally, I’d replace all eleven windows, but my limited window funds will be spent on rooms I spend more time in – namely the living room. But either way, I doubt I’ll use rope caulk again.

Stop the Rattling!

It’s still snowing. When I woke up (and decided to go back to sleep for two hours before working from home), there was snow mixed with sleet. The sleet slapped itself against the side of the house, pinging the aluminum siding. I looked out, saw cars sliding their way down the hill, and decided to stay put.

So I’ve been working in my home office all day. It’s a pleasant corner room – lots of daylight, cozy armchair for the cat, three big bookcases overflowing with books. It has two tall windows on separate walls. One had a fitting storm window. The other does not.

When I moved in, the taller of the two windows was sheathed in plastic. It kind of made sense, as I bought in April and the house was still winterized to an extent. One of my first activities (other than removing the baseball wallpaper from the master bedroom) was playing the great screen-window match game. They’ve replaced windows over the years, but apparently never thrown out any of the old storm windows or screens that don’t quite fit any window. I spent a long Saturday running up and down stairs, back and forth to the garage, trying to find the best fits. I went through the reverse process my first fall in the house house, searching for the right storm windows. This past spring, when making the switch again, I had the foresight to write the rooms on some windows (ie, “Guest room” or “upstairs bath”), but found I had nothing labeled for the taller office window.

As a result, despite my best efforts, I didn’t find one that fit very well. Sure, it blocks some of the wind, especially when coupled by the awesome removable caulk I used to seal it up. But today, as the wind howls, it rattles. Loudly. And often. I want to tape it into place to stop the rattling, but don’t want to break my perfect caulk seal. Nor can I really reach it from outside, not without a ladder, which isn’t happening in the driving snow.

My vow for next winter: don’t bother with a storm window. Caulk, shrinkwrap and call it a day.