Doors leak twice as much air as windows. This is a fact we often take for granted during the hot and cold months. Additionally, doors are used way more often than windows are (in terms of opening and closing them), so you can see why making sure they are properly sealed is a must if you live in places that have harsh climates and temperatures. Let’s take a look at how to inspect weather-stripping and seals on your house’s doors, and how to address fixing and installing new seals to stop air leaks.
Check weather-stripping and gaskets on doors
If you feel air moving around your door or just suspect it is due to high heating or cooling bills (or a thermostat turning your furnace or air conditioning on and off too often) here’s what to do. First check for crimped, flattened or missing weather stripping at the top and sides of doors. You might be able to adjust spring metal seals by prying lightly on the spring section. Other types probably will have to be replaced. Feel along the threshold. Air infiltration means you need one of the bottom-door sealing products mentioned below. Be sure to check the door itself. Is it warping at any place of is the door frame itself out of square? Also, keep in mind that even the tightest weather stripping seal won’t matter if you have deteriorated caulking around the edges of the framing. Examine storm doors as well. Some metal types have a bulbous gasket along their lower edges, while others use a sweep. Realize that both types need to be replaced periodically.
Be sure to check any interior doors that open to an attic, garage, basement, or other unheated space. Builders often don’t bother to seal these doors, even though they are responsible for a great amount of conditioned air loss in your home. Observe the thickness or quality of these types of doors. Construction costs are sometimes cut at these places, when hollow-core doors are used instead of solid core doors that have a much higher insulation value. Depending on your conditions, it may be worth investing in a solid-or foam-core door to increase your thermal efficiency.
Install weather-stripping on doors
Foam tape is used a lot and is very efficient if installed carefully and replaced at first signs of deterioration. It’s easy to put on. Simply measure widths and heights of your door at the door stops and cut to those sizes using a tape measure and utility knife or scissors. Be careful not to stretch or pull tape as you adhere it to the inside of the stops. Just lay it in normally and press to secure the adhesive. If the surface you’re sticking too isn’t clean, the stick may not last. Clean and dry thoroughly for a better installation. If your door won’t close after installing weather stripping, try to push on it with a little force so that it will latch. After being compressed for a day or two, it should let you close the door more easily. But remember, your goal is to get a tight seal, so don’t worry if your door gets a little snug. You can also always adjust the position of the strike plate to gain some room.
Nail rolled-vinyl stripping to door stop faces. Align so the bulbous edge projects, or comes out over the edge of the stop slightly. You want the door to compress this hanging over portion. Spring-metal weather stripping can also be nailed or screwed. Do this at the jamb inside the stop, fitting it carefully around the latch and lock mechanisms. For double-doors or french doors, use insulated molding to seal the gap between the two doors. Screw or nail to the face of the door that is usually closed.
How to seal underneath doors
A door’s bottom edge poses two weather-stripping problems. First, the threshold has to withstand lots of foot traffic and can wear out quickly. Second, any seal attached to the door must clear carpeting or other raised or uneven floor surfaces with the arc that the door is swinging when opened. The following door seal products solve these challenges to a degree, with no one being absolutely perfect. If your door has a badly worn threshold, consider replacing it with a metal one or even a hard wood version.
A door sweep works well if the floor is even. Simply attach it so the sweep (rubber or brush portion) seals against the threshold–just at the point it does so; no need to go too low at the risk of excessive dragging. You can buy an automatic sweep that uses a spring to raise itself as you open and close the door, then drops again as you close it. Pretty smart door seal if there ever was one!
Another type of door seal for the bottom is a shoe, which makes a more durable seal for your door against air leaks. This requires removing the door to install, since you have to mount it at the physical bottom of the door. A “bulb” threshold seal works like a shoe, except the bottom of the door just needs to be beveled so you have room for the bulbous portion of this type of threshold insulated seal.
If water seeps under your door and into the house, nail a drip cap to its outside face. This is just a thin rubber seal attached to a metal strip that is easily nailed or screwed to the door surface.