Tom Shafer

Note to self: repair door weatherstripping

January 09, 2012

Winter winds test every window and door in your home. Missing or faulty weatherstripping becomes obvious from the cold air you'll feel blowing in around the frames. Replacing or repairing door weatherstripping takes a little work but can often effectively solve the problem of cold drafts.

Before you can fix weatherstripping, you need to understand how it works. As a door closes, it contacts (closes against) a stop. If you examine your interior doors, you'll see that they close against a stop, but one without weatherstripping. On your exterior doors, however, weatherstripping seals the contact between door and stop.

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Air infiltration around the door is usually the result of torn or missing weatherstripping. Examine your entrance door. Where can you feel the air coming in -- from around the door frame or from under the door? Both have specific repairs and several choices of materials.

Some doors are weatherstripped with a vinyl material encasing sponge-like foam shaped a little like a question mark. The straight part of the question mark fits into a slit in the jamb of the door. As the door closes against it, it compresses and the air is blocked.

There are also several self-adhesive products available. One is a compressible, ½-inch-wide foam tape; however, it tends to absorb water and the water can freeze to the door. The first time the door opens, the foam may be torn off.

Flexible bulb weatherstripping also comes in the form of a tape. Available in different depths, the bulb typically can last through many door closings. Remember before applying any type of foam tape to thoroughly clean the area so the tape adheres firmly.

Older doors may have a metal strip shaped like a "V." This is usually tacked on the frame. Replacements are available.

Weatherstripping the bottom of the door

Weatherstripping on the bottom of the door consists of three or four door sweeps that close against the rise in the threshold (the part on the floor). These flaps tear over time. Replacement sweeps are also readily available, but most require that you remove the door from its hinges and lay it down to work on it.

Your threshold can also present a problem if it's a wood strip with screws. The screws raise and lower the wood depending on which way they are turned. Make sure they're properly adjusted.

With a little work and a minor expenditure of money, your door can be factory-tight again, and your home free from the cold winds of winter.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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