Reducing Drafts: Things to Check and How to Remedy
The temperature difference between the inside and outside of your home is generally 10-20' in the summer, but more like 40-50' in the winter. When temperatures are similar, there is less exchange between the air outside and the air inside. Air moves from high-pressure areas to low-pressure areas. Cold air is dense, so it's tendency is to move to warm, low-pressure areas. In the summer, that means some of the colder inside air might escape to the outdoors, but it shouldn't be too noticeable since the pressure difference is less extreme. In the winter, your cozy home is a low-pressure zone and the cold outdoor air will try to rush in with great force.
Check your doors
Make sure there aren't gaps between your door and the frame. Think about it like this: A typical 36' entry door with a quarter inch gap on one edge can leak as much as a nine-square-inch hole in the wall. Therma-Tru recommends a maximum of 3/32' between the door and the frame.
How to tell if your door is 'leaky'
On a windy day, take a candle and move it along the edges of your door. Wherever the candle flickers, air is entering.
Look for bright light coming through
Try to slide a piece of paper under the door.
What causes gaps
Loose Hardware: If one of the hinges is loose, your door may not be square with the frame.
A lock that was not installed properly or is of low quality. High-quality brass or brushed steel locks are recommended.
Old weatherstripping: Weatherstripping can compress over time. Make sure yours is not flat or cracked.
Problems with your sill: Over time, your sill may have settled. You can level it with shims. The bottom of the door is prone to drafts. A door sweep can help prevent air from infiltrating.
Inappropriate door threshold
Installing weatherstripping and door sweeps can help eliminate drafts. Weatherstripping is used to seal gaps around doors and windows. Some doors come with weatherstripping, like Therma Tru Entry Door Systems, but your door may not have any weatherstripping at all, or it may need to be replaced. Therma Tru's website helps you figure out what kind of replacement weatherstripping you need.
Weatherstripping comes in a variety of styles and materials.
Types of material
Felt, adhesive backed-foam, and rubber tapes are inexpensive and very easy to apply, but they are less energy efficient than other options, they only last a couple of years, and you can't really hide them. This type of weatherstripping is okay for doors that don't get a whole lot of use.
Custom-cut vinyl weatherstripping is a bit more expensive, but it does a better job and it is more durable. It is a good option for homes in CT because it resists moisture.
Metals, like bronze, aluminum, copper, or stainless steel, are built to last. This is a good option for older homes in CT, on which vinyl might not match the existing materials.
A V-Shape made of vinyl or metal is recommended for the top and sides of doors. The 'v' is springy and creates a tension seal. These also come with a peel and stick backing for easier installation.
Reinforced Foam attached to wood or metal strips can be used along the bottom of the door. Foam is pressure sensitive, so it also minimizes the sound of the door slamming.
Tapes (rubber or foam) are the best solution for corners or irregular cracks. Just remember that they are not durable, so replace them every year or two.
Interlocking metal weather stripping includes a piece on each edge: one on the door, and one on the jamb. One part fits inside the other to create a seal. This is a very effective type of weather stripping, but you probably need a professional to install it because it requires routing rabbets.
Gaskets are tubes. They can be made of flexible vinyl, and can be filled with foam.Tubular gaskets conform to uneven places, and the foam-filled types offer extra insulation and are able to hold their shape longer.
Door sweeps are strips of aluminum or stainless steel with a 'brush' of plastic, vinyl, sponge or felt. They are applied to the bottom of a door, on the interior if the door swings in, or on the exterior if the door swings out.
When you apply weatherstripping, start in the middle. If you stretch it, it will eventually shrink back to its original size and leave gaps. If you start in the middle and work your way out you will be less inclined to tug on it.
Measure the lengths of the gaps you want to seal before you order weatherstripping material. Weatherstripping should completely fill gaps, so order about 10-15% more than what you need to account for waste from cutting or measurement errors.
Weatherstripping is an excellent, relatively easy way to seal your door, but it can't solve all problems. If you have checked out your hardware, the door threshold, and tried weatherstripping without success, you may need a new door. At this point, you should get in touch with a local contractor to identify the problem. In the event that you do need a new door, the following blog posts and articles will help you learn about selecting doors, and what the cost is.Comparison of Wood, Steel, and Fiberglass Doors
Types of Exterior Doors
Therma-Tru Steel Entry Doors
Therma-Tru Entry Doors
Fiderio and Sons reccomends the following Fiberglass door systems. Fiberglass doors insulate five times better than wood, the weatherstripping is already integrated and optimized for the door you choose, and fiberglass does not warp.
A new door will pay for itself in no time through reduced energy costs.