Weatherstripping: Various Types of Weatherstripping
Most home maintenance projects will save you money over time. But, only a few of them will produce an immediate and measurable return. Maintaining your home’s energy envelope is one such project. The floors, walls, ceilings, exterior doors and windows of your home combine to make up its energy envelope. When the energy envelope is properly maintained your personal comfort level will reap the benefits. Finite control of heat and cold is achieved with insulation in walls, ceilings and floors and with infiltration control (sealing air leaks and making all exterior surfaces airtight.
Chances are your home is already well insulated. However, if it isn’t don’t waste another second. Do it now. Incredibly expensive winter fuel bills are on their way. Insulated or not, sealing gaps at windows and doors is an annual “must do task” that will help to provide the comfort level we just mentioned.
Weatherstripping comes in many of the following forms or in several combinations thereof:
It doesn’t take a workshop full of tools to install most types of weatherstripping. All you will normally need, for a top-notch professional looking job, are a screwdriver, a razor knife and possibly a hacksaw. Depending on usage and financial limitations you can select from several weatherstripping configurations.
- Metal V-strip
- Vinyl V-strip
- Integral Vinyl V-strip
- Adhesive Backed Foam (for doors and windows that don’t get much use)
- Hollow Rubber Beading on a Metal Flange
- Interlocking Metal (should be professionally installed)
Metal v-strip weatherstripping is durable, long lasting and easy to install. It comes with a pressure sensitive adhesive backing that, except for cutting to length, allows for a tool-free installation. The v-strip is mounted on the doorframe at the location where it comes into contact with the face of the door when the door is in the closed position. The v-strip is flattened when the door is closed. Be that as it may, the built-in spring tension that causes the v-shape closes the gap between the door and the frame keeping air from passing.
V-stripping also is available in vinyl which we think is every bit as good at the metal type. To top it off, vinyl v-stripping is also available in a type that is built directly the door frame. Here, the weatherstripping snaps into a groove in the doorframe. Press to lock it in place – no adhesive needed. When the weather stripping wears out you simply pull out the old and replace with new.
Adhesive backed foam is installed in the same way and in the same location as v-style weatherstripping. Although adhesive backed foam is inexpensive (costs about $1 per opening) it isn’t very durable. Thus, you won’t be able to count on it to last an entire winter if you install it on a frequently used door.
Interlocking metal weatherstripping is the most expensive and the type that works the best. Small metal flashings placed at the door and frame. When the door is closed the metal flashings “interlock”. Interlocking weatherstripping is usually only installed at doors and casement windows (the kind of window that operates like a door). Both door and frame must be notched with a router. The special tools and the associated “tedious” installation make interlocking metal a number one candidate for an installation by someone who installs weatherstripping for a living. Interlocking weatherstripping is installed completely around the perimeter of the door – top, sides and bottom. A special threshold is installed which interlocks with the metal flashing at the bottom of the door.
With the other types of weatherstripping that we mentioned a door shoe is used at the bottom of the door. Here, the shoe is adjusted to close snugly against the threshold. In some cases rubber weatherstripping is mounted on the door shoe and in some cases the weatherstripping is mounted on the threshold. We like it when the rubber is on the door bottom. Mounted on the threshold, it tends to wear out more quickly as a result of foot traffic.
Regardless of which type of weatherstripping you use you will want to check every opening to determine whether a problem exists. The amount of air that passes through walls, ceilings and floors is simply amazing. Fortunately, there are easy ways of test for leaks. They are:
- The Candle or Incense Method
- The Wet Finger Method
- The Flashlight Method
These tests are really easy to perform and will make you feel like a bonafide accomplished person when you’re done. Use them around:
- Light Switches
- Electric Plugs
- Drain Pipes
- Water Pipes
- Heat Registers
- Wall & Ceiling Light Fixtures
- Smoke & CO Detectors
- Floor Plugs
- Door Bell Chimes
- Around Doors
- Around Windows
The Candle or Incense Method
This is our favorite method. It works every time. All you have to do is light a candle or some incense and hold it next to suspect leak point. If a leak exists the flame will flicker. If it is a calm day turn on all of the exhaust fans in your home (i.e. bathroom, range hood, laundry, etc.). The negative pressure created will draw air in through gaps causing flame and smoke to flicker.
The Finger Method
No, you don’t have to light your finger to make this test. But you will have to wet it. This one is actually called “The Wet Finger Method” Fact #1: when air passes over water it causes the water to evaporate. Fact #2: water cools as it evaporates. Fact #3: a wet finger will get cold when placed near a flow of air. To test our method, blow on your finger. Now wet it and blow again. Notice the difference?
The Flashlight Method
If you are a nocturnal animal you will definitely like this one. That’s because the flashlight method is only used at night. You’ll need a friend to help. One person outside, and the other inside. A light is shined onto exterior walls, windows and doors. The person on the other side of the wall looks for traces of light passing through. Where there’s light there’s leaks. It may not be good English, but we bet you get the point. And, good luck!
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