Weatherstrip Exterior Doors
Nearly every year as winds begin to pickup and as cold weather begins to set itself upon us we try to remember to dedicate at least one article to winterizing and weather-protecting the home against chilly Mother Nature. And this year is no exception.
With the technology that’s available today you don’t have to be an experienced construction worker to guarantee yourself and your family a more than reasonable degree of comfort without paying an arm and a leg. Remember – winterizing your home is gobs cheaper than what you will pay in heating costs if you live in a leaky place.
Did you know that even the tightest closing exterior door may be letting in enough air to freeze you out of house and home? Looked underneath your front door lately? How about the one to the back yard? Did you know that the door to your garage (in most cases) is an exterior door? OK, the weather-stripping around the rest of the door is just as important as the seal at the bottom. But the bottom of the door and how well it is sealed isn’t as obvious as the rest. Check all weather-stripping at all exterior openings, but be sure not to forget the bottom of each exterior door.
As a house moves it causes everything connected to it to shift position. You know what we mean if you’ve ever had a door that rubs at the top or has such a large gap that you can put a fist through it. Well, when this happens to windows and exterior doors leaks occur. By the way, a door doesn’t have to look like it has shifted to be leaking. An eighth-inch gap at the bottom of a door is all it takes. Why do we keep referring to the bottom of the door you ask? It’s because that’s where most exterior doors leak the most. And in fact, that is exactly why most door bottoms are fitted with adjustable weather-stripping. Granted, there are all kinds of combinations of weather-stripping devices that can be fitted to the bottom of the door, but the kind we like the best are the ones that can be adjusted. And the reason is simple – houses move as seasons change. And when what keeps the air out is adjustable – then the house can move all it wants to. When the weather begins to get a little cold all you have to do is loosen a few screws, adjust the shoe on the bottom of the door to lay snugly along the threshold and simply retighten the screws. Ten minutes per door on 2 or 3 doors and you have saved yourself and your family big energy dollars and tons of discomfort.
Some thresholds incorporate a flexible rubber strip that acts to seal the underside of the door when it closes. We think these are bad. They can’t be adjusted. And if there is any truth about a house it is that it continually moves. Devices that don’t respond to this kind of activity are as useless as can be. Our recommendation is to have any such threshold replaced with the type we suggest. OK, your house doesn’t move. It’s on sand and there is no leak. OK, OK, if that’s the case then keep what you’ve got. But don’t forget to change the gasket when it begins to wear out.
Some time, one day, someone somewhere will tell you that the very best kind of weather-stripping is the interlocking type. And we have to agree. It is the very best. But it also is the very most expensive. The bad thing about interlocking weather-stripping is that it relies on a quarter-inch wide groove all the way around the door. Naturally, a shift of an eighth of an inch or more and the door no longer operates properly and in some instances simply won’t close while out of adjustment. What does this mean to you – a headache making adjustments more often than you’d like.
Do yourself a favor. Use only weather-stripping that snaps, screws or nails into place. The stick-on kind doesn’t last and is a mess to remove when new needs to be added. Wouldn’t you rather make minor adjustments once in awhile rather than making a major alteration every cold season?
To test weather your door bottom is leaking have someone go outside with a flashlight at night. Have them shine the light through the bottom of the door. If you can see the light your door-bottom weather-stripping needs adjustment. Also, don’t forget the old candle trick. Hold it next to the door edge on a windy day. Blow out the flame and hold the smoking candle next to the gap all round the door – and watch the smoke. And, that’s all there is to it.