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I live in an apartment complex with a dedicated maintenance crew. I noticed that one of our bedrooms is a lot colder than the rest of the apartment, and of course when inspecting the sliding windows, I found that there is a noticeable air leak.

The leak is coming through the groove of the sliding window. I'm not sure I understand how air is coming through this groove, but it's very clearly a problem, as I can easily feel the air leaking in from outside.

I called maintenance, and the man they sent says that it's a problem that can't be fixed with weatherstripping, and the only solution is to replace the windows. Apparently they are aluminum windows and that's a common complaint they've been receiving. Instead, he offered to cover the window in the plastic insulation that you can get at any Home Depot or Lowe's.

Either way, it's no cost to me, but I find it hard to believe that this is just an accepted problem of aluminum windows. Is there really no solution to this problem other than replacing the windows?

air leaking through top of window, via groove

bottom of the window, also leaking air

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I ran into the same issue with my building's aluminum windows.

To fix it, I removed the window from the track and tightened the screws on the latching mechanism. This made a tiny bit of difference as it allowed the window to sit better on the track, and allowed the latch to pull the window closer to a full 'locking' position. While the window's out, you should clean out the track as well, since any kind of dirt in the channel will cause the window to sit off-line and cause air to leak through.

The other thing to check and/or replace is the pile weatherstripping on the exterior facing side of the slider, but make sure you get one with a fin strip (that's a bit of rubber running down the middle of the pile) since that blocks airflow more effectively. If your building is willing to replace the windows, great, if not, you can also press rope caulk into the leaky areas. I would advise against the plastic sheeting you mentioned, though, since it leaves a terrible residue on your sills and often removes the paint along with it come spring (though they are effective if nothing else works).

  • + for replacing the fin seal, this is usually the cause of the leak. – Ed Beal Jan 29 '19 at 15:29

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