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Sarah
Premium,ExMod 2002-05
join:2001-01-09
Cambridge, MA
kudos:6
Reviews:
·MegaNet Communic..

1 edit

Best way to seal windows against cigarette smoke?

The scenario: I live in an old triple-decker house which was converted into an apartment building. I'm on the first floor, and I rent. The windows and doors are quite drafty but I've always been able to get by OK in terms of heating/cooling. The windows were poorly installed, I think, so there are a lot of gaps between the window jambs/frames. The actual window part seems OK.

The problem: My new neighbors who moved in last month are HEAVY smokers. The good news is that they don't smoke indoors... the bad news is that they sit on the porch and smoke, meaning that they are right next to my drafty first-floor windows and door. Basically every time someone smokes out there, I smell it, and if it's 2-3 smokers, I start getting asthmatic. One night when they had a party and lots of people were in and out of the house smoking on the porch until 3 AM, I was sick for two days and almost had to go to urgent care. In other words: I really need to do something about it.

The question: What can I do (as a renter - meaning no wholesale window replacement or construction type stuff) to make these windows air-tight against cigarette smoke? I don't care if I can open and close the windows since I basically can't open them now anyway because of the smokers. I know you can get stuff like plastic sheeting or weatherstripping tape to help kill drafts, but I'm not sure what will work the best, or if I should use caulk or something like that to fill the gaps instead/in addition to the weather-proofing.
--
My music blog



workablob

join:2004-06-09
Houston, TX
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: Best way to seal windows against cig. smoke?

I used this back when I lived in an old house with leaky windows.

»www.amazon.com/3M-Indoor-Insulat···0002NCJI

Blob
--
I may have been born yesterday. But it wasn't at night.



leibold
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-09
Sunnyvale, CA
kudos:10
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
reply to Sarah

Since you are renting, instead of trying to fix the issue yourself have you tried to see how responsive your landlord is in helping you to solve the problem ?

Making the home completely airtight isn't going to be feasible and therefore part of your solution has to be ensuring that fresh air enters primarily from an area that is smoke free. If you can create positive air pressure inside the home it will prevent smoke from entering the leaky windows (wind directions play a role here too). Something like a bathroom or kitchen exhaust vent installed backwards might work.
--
Got some spare cpu cycles ? Join Team Helix or Team Starfire!



Sarah
Premium,ExMod 2002-05
join:2001-01-09
Cambridge, MA
kudos:6
Reviews:
·MegaNet Communic..
reply to workablob

said by workablob:

I used this back when I lived in an old house with leaky windows.

Do you think that would work OK if the blinds were not flush with the window? For some reason some windows have blinds set into the window (so the plastic would be easy to install) and some of them have blinds in front of the window and the plastic would have to shrinkwrap over it... Or maybe I could put the shrinkwrap under the blinds? Hm.

@leibold: I thought I would see if there was something simple I could do myself before elevating it to the level of talking to the neighbors or landlady. I unfortunately had to complain a couple times already about these same people's loud music (see: party until 3AM etc) so I'm trying not to turn into "the tenant who complains all the time"...
--
My music blog

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
·callwithus

The positive pressure and platic ideas are both good. If you can, put the platic over the windows/door. Then, put a box fan in a window accessing clean outside air, blowing IN to the house. Close all other windows. That should help keep the smoke from drifting in.



02778712

join:2013-07-08
MA
reply to Sarah

They made special air filters designed to remove tobacco smoke called "Smoke eaters".

Something like this:
»www.amazon.com/Hamilton-Beach-Tr···80650823



workablob

join:2004-06-09
Houston, TX
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Comcast
reply to Sarah

said by Sarah:

Or maybe I could put the shrinkwrap under the blinds?

That would be my choice.

Blob
--
I may have been born yesterday. But it wasn't at night.


02778712

join:2013-07-08
MA

said by workablob:

said by Sarah:

Or maybe I could put the shrinkwrap under the blinds?

That would be my choice.

Blob

I use the shrink wrap stuff myself but it doesn't last long. I might get 3-5 months before the tape gives and it leaks. It's a great SHORT TERM solution for a problem but it's not a viable long term solution.


workablob

join:2004-06-09
Houston, TX
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Comcast

Yeah, the tape needs some work to last more than a season but it can be done.

Another thought for the OP would be Indoor Air Purifier.

OP, Google that.

Blob
--
I may have been born yesterday. But it wasn't at night.



Sarah
Premium,ExMod 2002-05
join:2001-01-09
Cambridge, MA
kudos:6
Reviews:
·MegaNet Communic..

1 recommendation

I'm not sure how fast the air purifiers work - sometimes my asthma is triggered in just 3-5 minutes after I start smelling it. Can they clean the air faster than that?

The shrink wrap has the added benefit of saving me money on my heating bills so I wouldn't mind giving it a shot...
--
My music blog



workablob

join:2004-06-09
Houston, TX
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Comcast

Not sure about the purifiers speed at cleaning the air. I would imagine you would have to leave it running.

I say, try the plastic and go from there if needed.

Blob
--
I may have been born yesterday. But it wasn't at night.



Pacrat
Old and Cranky
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-10
Cortland, OH
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

1 edit
reply to Sarah

This may be oversimplification, but... I would try clamly calmly explaining your health situation to them, with regard to the asthma trigger, and politely ask that they refrain from smoking near the front of the house. You may be surprised. If you approach it from the crazy lunatic quarter, you'll get nowhere, but if you ask nicely, explaining why it's a problem for you, they may just surprise you and work with you. Then again, they might not, but it's worth the effort to try. I don't think anyone can force them to quit smoking outside, so if they will co-operate with your situation, you're miles ahead of trying passive measures in sealing yourself in. I would definitely look into a home/room air purifier though. I have seen some that worked quite well and quite fast in clearing a room of smoke.
--
Keep your eye on the ball, your shoulder to the wheel, your nose to the grindstone, and your ear to the ground. Now, try to work in that position!!!



StillLearn
Premium
join:2002-03-21
Streamwood, IL
reply to Sarah

Lots of good ideas on this thread. I would start with the caulk and weatherstripping. And yes, the landlord may be glad to help with that.



z aXis
Premium
join:2003-01-23
Arlington Heights, IL
reply to Sarah

As was said caulk and weatherstripping go a long way. Then plastic to back it up.



Sarah
Premium,ExMod 2002-05
join:2001-01-09
Cambridge, MA
kudos:6
Reviews:
·MegaNet Communic..
reply to Pacrat

said by Pacrat:

This may be oversimplification, but... I would try clamly explaining your health situation to them, with regard to the asthma trigger, and politely ask that they refrain from smoking near the front of the house.

I did mention it one time when it triggered a bad asthma attack, and I was afraid of what would happen if they had another round or two of cigarettes outside my window before bed. That night, they moved a few feet further away. But ever since then they have been right back on the porch smoking. I don't know what kind of people would continue to smoke somewhere when they'd been told it was making someone sick... but... that's the kind of people my neighbors are.

They also litter constantly and make a ton of noise (loud music, parties, slamming doors, etc.) so I think in general they're just obnoxious human beings... really a shame they moved in here, I've been here for 10 years and only ever had a problem with one neighbor before now.
--
My music blog


MsTerra
Callipygian
Premium
join:2002-08-20
Nerdvana
kudos:1
reply to Sarah

The upstairs apartments in your building don't have rear balconies? I know that's the case in a lot of triple-deckers around here, and if that were the case with yours, you could ask if they'd smoke outside their own apartment instead. If not, I guess I'm not really clear on why they always have to smoke outside.

Caulking will probably help some. I agree with the others about the window film. My experience with that stuff is that it is difficult to get the tape to stick properly, and if you get a lot of wind blowing against the house, the tape may not be equal to it. If the windows are really leaky, I'd do caulk and then plastic.

Given that their smoking on the porch is endangering your health, I don't think saying something to your landlord if your neighbors continue to be unresponsive puts you in the "cranky tenant" category. This is not in the same league as someone walking around in high heels on a hardwood floor over your head, or something like that.

I'd say it might be time to move, but I know what the vacancy rates and rents are like. You're in a tight spot there. I hope the situation improves after the weather gets cold, at least.
--
"Strive to change the world in such a way that there's no further need to be a dissident." Lawrence Ferlinghetti



StillLearn
Premium
join:2002-03-21
Streamwood, IL
Reviews:
·AT&T Midwest
reply to Sarah

said by Sarah:

They also litter constantly and make a ton of noise (loud music, parties, slamming doors, etc.) so I think in general they're just obnoxious human beings... really a shame they moved in here, I've been here for 10 years and only ever had a problem with one neighbor before now.

Even more reason to talk to the landlord about caulk, weatherstripping, and such. Maybe he will be less tolerant of late rent from your neighbor than he would have been, or at least he might raise the rent for the next lease period.

Also, look at zillow.com, and see if anything inspires you.

laserfan

join:2005-01-14
Texas
reply to Sarah

I'm not getting why, if the renters are on floor 2 or 3, that they somehow come-out and sit on the porch of floor 1? Your porch?

Cigarette smoke kills--talk to your landlord. In the alternative, I see "no way" that sealing doors/windows will work completely, or even acceptably--there's more to leakage than just those things.

Your best bet is to rig-up some sort of positive pressure in your living space, fed from a place outside that has only fresh air. Maybe impossible given wind conditions.

I wish you luck but this sounds just awful to me, a lifelong hater of smoke, having grown-up with it...



Sarah
Premium,ExMod 2002-05
join:2001-01-09
Cambridge, MA
kudos:6
Reviews:
·MegaNet Communic..
reply to MsTerra

@MsTerra: No, we don't have rear balconies, that would be great. We also just signed new leases as of September 1st, so we'll likely be living together for a while.

@laserfan: The porch is a shared space, both of our front doors exit to that porch (it sounds a bit weird if you're not familiar with the local architecture - lots of the triple deckers have four "front doors" exiting to two little porches, two doors per porch).

In general I feel like asking people to vacate a space they should in theory have equal access to is a last resort.
--
My music blog



Anonymous_
Anonymous
Premium
join:2004-06-21
127.0.0.1
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
reply to Sarah

said by Sarah:

The scenario: I live in an old triple-decker house which was converted into an apartment building. I'm on the first floor, and I rent. The windows and doors are quite drafty but I've always been able to get by OK in terms of heating/cooling. The windows were poorly installed, I think, so there are a lot of gaps between the window jambs/frames. The actual window part seems OK.

The problem: My new neighbors who moved in last month are HEAVY smokers. The good news is that they don't smoke indoors... the bad news is that they sit on the porch and smoke, meaning that they are right next to my drafty first-floor windows and door. Basically every time someone smokes out there, I smell it, and if it's 2-3 smokers, I start getting asthmatic. One night when they had a party and lots of people were in and out of the house smoking on the porch until 3 AM, I was sick for two days and almost had to go to urgent care. In other words: I really need to do something about it.

The question: What can I do (as a renter - meaning no wholesale window replacement or construction type stuff) to make these windows air-tight against cigarette smoke? I don't care if I can open and close the windows since I basically can't open them now anyway because of the smokers. I know you can get stuff like plastic sheeting or weatherstripping tape to help kill drafts, but I'm not sure what will work the best, or if I should use caulk or something like that to fill the gaps instead/in addition to the weather-proofing.

cease and desist letter..

check you local state laws some even ban out door near building entrance


TheTechGuru

join:2004-03-25
TEXAS
kudos:2
Reviews:
·HughesNet Satell..
·WesTex Connect
reply to Sarah

Lots and lots of GE Clear or White Silicone II to seal them up.






--
CompTIA Network+ Certified


tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:5

Can you take a few pics of the windows in question? In particular, the gaps in the areas between the window and the framing? Some high-res pics of the outside of the porch would help too, to see if you have any obvious cracks in the exterior.

If the windows themselves arent leaking, some cheap caulk saver will get you a long way, and is super easy to install, way easier than caulk, is available in many diameters, and could be taken with you if you move.
»www.homedepot.com/p/Frost-King-E···00067266

-j
--
if it aint broke, tweak it!!
currently on FiOS (kick aZZ!)



Sarah
Premium,ExMod 2002-05
join:2001-01-09
Cambridge, MA
kudos:6
Reviews:
·MegaNet Communic..

Click for full size
Sure, here is a pic of the gap. There are parts that are better or worse but this is pretty much how they look all the way around. As I said in the original post, I think they were installed poorly. The door is much better, I think there are just some little gaps around the old deadbolt.

Outdoor pics aren't really possible at the moment since it's nighttime and I'm already in my jammies I probably can't get a really good close-up of the outside of the window facing the porch, because it's behind a fence and some shrubs... I can't get very close to it. I wonder if the exterior looks as bad as the interior.
--
My music blog


BKayrac
Premium
join:2001-09-29
Madison, WI
reply to Sarah

Go with the plastic on the windows, it'll be your best bet, and is super simple to do.

Not much your landlord can do probably, hell, the landlord will probably be happy they are smoking outside instead of in his/her apartment.



TheTechGuru

join:2004-03-25
TEXAS
kudos:2

How tacky. Hope it's not a HOA, that'd be a violation.

Fix it properly with silicone caulk and spray foam for the really big cracks.
--
CompTIA Network+ Certified



02778712

join:2013-07-08
MA

said by TheTechGuru:

How tacky. Hope it's not a HOA, that'd be a violation.

Fix it properly with silicone caulk and spray foam for the really big cracks.

What HoA has control over the INSIDE of your property? If they do RUN FOREST RUN!!!!!!!


TheTechGuru

join:2004-03-25
TEXAS
kudos:2
Reviews:
·HughesNet Satell..
·WesTex Connect

said by 02778712:

What HoA has control over the INSIDE of your property?

Well I was thinking outside but if inside better have blinds blocking the view from outside.

Might as well just put some foil tape over the cracks.
--
CompTIA Network+ Certified


02778712

join:2013-07-08
MA

said by TheTechGuru:

said by 02778712:

What HoA has control over the INSIDE of your property?

Well I was thinking outside but if inside better have blinds blocking the view from outside.

Might as well just put some foil tape over the cracks.

All my properties with HoA they maintain the outside so if there's an issue they are responsible to fix it.


02778712

join:2013-07-08
MA
reply to Sarah

I doubt caulk would fix the problem. You really need to remove the inside window casing which is normally just some screws then insulate and caulk as needed. Then you can put the window casing back on and it doesn't matter how it looks. It's air sealed property behind the scenes!

How do I know this stuff? I live 20-25 minutes from the OP in a house that needed the same work around a similar age property. I tried caulk on the trim and it didn't work at all. Air just leaking in through the other joints of the window. It should be a pretty simple and cheap solution. I'd guess maybe 10-15 minutes a window and maybe $1 to 3 in materials per window.



Jackorama

join:2008-05-23
Kingston, ON

1 edit
reply to Sarah

Is there a "Quiet and rightful enjoyment of said premises" clause in your lease? This is something you should look into since it is impeding your right to enjoy your living space.

The city I live in the landlord has to provide a fix for cigarette smoke entering an apartment from another apartment (or like smoke coming in a window from someone smoking on the property grounds/porch) when there is a complaint about it. I'm lucky I live in a non-smoking apartment building and that includes the grounds.
--
"Whenever they invent something that's moron proof, someone comes by and invents a better moron."

"Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?"

"Those of you who think you know everything are annoying those of us who do."