Author Topic: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work  (Read 2248 times)

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Offline Deke

  • Posts: 221
Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« on: December 13, 2017, 01:55 PM »
I'm a pretty handy guy, after all I can make furniture :-), but I have a kitchen outside door that is driving me insane. It opens to an unheated mudroom that seems to be a naturally made wind tunnel and refrigerator. It is making our kitchen unlivable in the cold even though we have insulated below it in the basement and other areas  (gee, now I know why the previous owners had a wood stove and little gas stove in the kitchen despite the house having a new 5 ton AC/furnace HVAC unit). I have tried various big box store weather stripping stuff (vinyl bulb on a metal track) and either it works but I can't close the door without slamming it really really hard, or I back off and the leaks persist. Jets of cold air along the door knob side all up and down. The casing is cheap wood with gaps that I caulked, but it still leaks. The casing is also narrow enough (kind of like they used trim) where I can't really attach the foam weather stripping that seems like it might be more effective.

I guess I have two questions. 1) Are there doors that just can't be fixed and it's better to just get a new one with a whole new casing/frame with great weather stripping? 2) Are there any quality weather stripping products beside the stuff they sell at the big box places? If so, what should I try?

Note, I also have other doors with the folded brass strips AND the vinyl bulb tracks AND door sweeps they are leaking as well, though not as bad as this darn kitchen door.

Offline RobBob

  • Posts: 1249
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2017, 02:12 PM »
Get a whole new exterior door factory pre-hung on a new frame.  I like insulated fiberglass with a double pane window.  Check out Therma-Tru doors.

Otherwise, you could install a storm door over the existing door, but it might be an additional hassle in a small space.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2017, 02:14 PM by RobBob »

Offline antss

  • Posts: 1453
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2017, 02:19 PM »
Yup, some doors just can't be fixed.

I'd just start anew like Rob suggested. 

Offline escan

  • Posts: 44
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2017, 02:36 PM »
You could keep the door and rebuild the frame to match the tolerances of the compressed weather stripping.

I have a terrible conduction and convection on my front door, I going to build new one with steped European jams, gaskets and door profile.

If you are handy and could widen the rough opening for the frame, you could add these profiles to the strike and top section of the door and build matching profiles on the jam. If you have a shaper its easier but its pretty much stepped rabbets and two locations to place gaskets.

Offline danbox

  • Posts: 70
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2017, 02:52 PM »
https://www.ironmongerydirect.co.uk/browse/seals-for-doors-and-windows


Just find the right weather seal, have a look at these.

Offline w802h

  • Posts: 214
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2017, 03:50 PM »
I've noticed a "break-in" period for weatherstripping.  Some brands of weatherstripping are thinner on the hinge side to prevent binding.  If the door is "loose" at the strike plate, I would start there.  Somtimes you can bend a little metal tab in the strike plate to get a better seal.  Also, you mention leaky casing.  Perhaps you could remove the casing and insure the door is insulated, preferably with sprayfoam.  If these ideas don't work to your satisfaction, you'll want the rough opening dimensions anyway with the casing off to get a new door anyway.

Offline Deke

  • Posts: 221
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2017, 04:11 PM »
Appreciate all the suggestions on weather stripping, but I'm going with a new door. My wife finally agrees after we just spent the last hour or so trying new weather stripping options with repeated failures.

This is a 120 year old house. The five other all original wood doors are all performing 100% better than this 1970-80s cheapo wood door. Previous owners (the last two at least) were, according to neighbors, not very handy and a bit cheap. The work shows. We also just discovered a jet of cold air coming from the hole in the jam that the latch bolt goes into - it is an endless hole going to nowhere! In addition, the threshold is so low the door is 1/16 or less from the floor when you open it. Yes, I could take the door off, cut a bit off and then add a sweep, but...

Overall (and I should have explained this before) cheap door, shoddy install = dump it. Got a guy coming Friday for a quote. As for woodworking, a door like this is pushing my skills. Instead I am building other nice things for my wife who responds by encouraging me to buy more Festools!  [big grin]

Thanks again!

Maybe later I will post on protecting the finish of our pretty wood original door.

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 3288
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2017, 04:25 PM »
Got a guy... good solution, you want that to happen as fast as possible.

Offline Bob D.

  • Posts: 782
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2017, 04:29 PM »
Sounds like there is little or no insulation around the door, or maybe just some big gaps.
They're worth fixing while you're replacing the door as they (missing or minimal insulation)
are big energy hogs as well as contributors to the comfort level in the room.

In Nov. 1982 I bought a 27 room house built in 1905 that had ZERO insulation. That first
winter we spent over $1500 on heating oil. That Spring insulation was #1 on the to do list.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline Dane

  • Posts: 335
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2017, 09:16 PM »
I generally agree with the comments about trying a new door to really get a tight fit- but that is also just treating the symptom of a larger problem.  The reason that air is rushing in through all your doors is that you have some significant leakage at the attic level of your house.  Hot air rises and exits the house through leaks at the highest living level- this creates a vacuum down low that needs to be filled and draws in cold air from lower in the building.  It's called the stack effect and is basically the same way a chimney works.  My primary business is building performance and we address this every day. If you take some time to airseal your attic, you will significantly reduce the infiltration of air at the main level through things like door seals.  So, get a new door, but also think about addressing the systemic issue to really address the issue.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 4330
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2017, 02:17 AM »
Ya I’ve been known at times to try to keep a dying/dead patient on life support. Only to find out that a new door and jamb was the real solution.

It’s important to also purchase the jamb as that’s where the weather seals reside.

The door and jamb come as a set with seals that compliment each other. Install the jamb and use low expanding spray foam to seal it. Install the door and you’re good to go.

Offline Bob D.

  • Posts: 782
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2017, 05:22 AM »
Reinforce the strike plate area too for security. On the last door I replaced I slipped a piece of sheet metal behind the door jamb and filled any void to the rough framing with plywood for about 8 to 10 inches above/below the deadbolt using 3 inch screws. A deadbolt with a one inch throw will engage the sheet metal when locked. You can kick on it and maybe break the door itself but you'll have a tough time kicking out the door jamb with that 16 or 18 Ga. sheet metal in there.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline Deke

  • Posts: 221
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2017, 06:02 AM »
I generally agree with the comments about trying a new door to really get a tight fit- but that is also just treating the symptom of a larger problem.  The reason that air is rushing in through all your doors is that you have some significant leakage at the attic level of your house.  Hot air rises and exits the house through leaks at the highest living level- this creates a vacuum down low that needs to be filled and draws in cold air from lower in the building.  It's called the stack effect and is basically the same way a chimney works.  My primary business is building performance and we address this every day. If you take some time to airseal your attic, you will significantly reduce the infiltration of air at the main level through things like door seals.  So, get a new door, but also think about addressing the systemic issue to really address the issue.

Thanks, this makes a lot of sense, thanks! Seriously, a real epiphany here for me. I knew the real experts here would help. Even though yesterday we had 50 mph winds for 24 hours, it is still a constant issue.

Previous owners had the attic insulated (3 story house), but like I said, they did everything on the cheap. Of course insulation won't fill cracks. Meanwhile the basement has tons of places with air coming in too - having a spray foam insulation guy here tomorrow for that. I will check out the attic again this weekend. Right off the bat it has a HUGE no longer used attic fan so that has to be contributing.

Thanks again! Not one HVAC, insulation or door/window person mentioned this.
You probably made a house we otherwise love, livable!
« Last Edit: December 14, 2017, 06:08 AM by Deke »

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 4330
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2017, 10:16 AM »
On the last door I replaced I slipped a piece of sheet metal behind the door jamb... A deadbolt with a one inch throw will engage the sheet metal when locked. You can kick on it and maybe break the door itself but you'll have a tough time kicking out the door jamb with that 16 or 18 Ga. sheet metal in there.

Good idea...I like that. [big grin]

The low expansion foam also does a great job in supporting the jamb as it adheres tenaciously to the wood and helps prevent jam blowout.

Offline Dane

  • Posts: 335
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2017, 11:00 AM »
Happy to help.  I'm always gratified to pass on the gospel of building performance.  If you have an old whole house fan that hasn't been properly sealed, that is what is causing 75 percent of your discomfort.  Unfortunately, traditional HVAC and insulation contractors still haven't gotten on board with the actual science of making a home comfortable and affordable.  An average sized American home has air leakage that is the equivalent of a 2 square foot window being open 24/7.  As you note, insulation alone does little to stop the movement of air.  Heat moves via convection (air movement) far more efficiently than it does through conduction (the movement of heat through a material).  As you note-traditional insulation, like fiberglass and cellulose, does nothing to stop air movement- and therefore very little to stop the movement of heat out of your house.  What should happen, is that the entire surface of the attic should be airsealed first- i.e., all the cracks and holes from lighting fixtures, plumbing and wiring chases, fans, and, if your house is old, possibly huge bypasses created by balloon framing.  After the attic plane is tight, then insulation is put down to slow conductive heat loss.  The airsealing side of the equation doesn't happen 90 percent of the time.  As you can imagine, all of that hot air escaping through the cracks in the building envelope also carries with it significant amounts of moisture.  This causes a number of problems- it reduces the humidity in your house, making it very uncomfortable and it also can cause serious issues when moist air migrates into cold attics and walls.  It can condense on the cold surfaces, causing rot, and it is also the number one cause of ice dams and roof failures. 

Lots to consider. 
I would suggest an excellent book:
https://www.amazon.com/Insulate-Weatherize-Energy-Efficiency-Tauntons/dp/1561585548
and also point you to a great website:
https://buildingscience.com/  look under the "Guidance" tab.

I would also suggest that if you are going to hire a contractor for airsealing and insulation as well as HVAC work in the future, you look for one that is affiliated with the Building Performance Institute: bpi.org .  You may pay a little more up front, but they will actually get to the root cause of your issues and not send you down an endless path of paying for new furnaces, insulation etc and not being satisfied with the work.

Good luck, feel free to IM me if you need any advice.

Offline antss

  • Posts: 1453
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2017, 11:20 AM »
I'd have the fella look into foaming the attic before the basement !

That's where you'll see more return.   Have him seal the band / rim joists down there though.

Your eyes will bulge when you get the quote , so be prepared.

Offline Deke

  • Posts: 221
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2017, 04:18 AM »
Thanks again Dane! Low humidity is yet another symptom backing up your diagnosis - the house is very dry despite a new HVAC system with humidifier. I'm checking that old attic fan tomorrow. It is huge (4x4 or more?). It's as if they took it off a Cessna or something. Pulling it out would be a huge mess, but that is going to happen some day. It also clicked in that our back mud room has a little bump out roof with no insulation and voids galore creating yet another mini stack effect. I am going to study up on this (thanks for book link) so I can find the right contractors to work with and also do as much as I can myself.

Antss, I know what you are saying, but you would not believe the basement. It was finished by the previous owners, but virtually no insulation between the new walls framed within the old stone walls and a bilco door letting in massive amounts of airplus rim joists leaking air like you would not believe. The kitchen over this part was freezing cold. The quick spray job on a section below the kitchen plus my putting up some R30 in a few places (3-4 hours of work) has already made a huge improvement. I can't believe multiple previous owners suffered for 30+ years in this cold kitchen (as evidence by a wood stove and gas wall stove in the kitchen) vs a little insulation. Insane.

P.S. Our house isn't a dump, actually a very unique old house with a lot of positives, but this is one area nobody ever addressed. On the positive side, the basement is all mine as my wood shop and is fantastic. I even have a "walk in closet" that is about 14 deep by 8 wide with floor to ceiling shelves on both sides. My only complaint? Baby blue walls in my new shop. Doesn't go with Festool green at all.

Online RKA

  • Posts: 1027
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2017, 05:43 AM »
One point of clarification, most attics are designed to “breath”, so air comes in under the soffits and is exhausted through gable vents, vents on the roof deck, attic fan, ridge vents, etc.  An attic fan in this scenario is fine.  What Dane was pointing out is a whole house fan installed between the ceiling of your living space and attic.  Those can be leaky and you want to stop any leak between that living space and attic. 
-Raj

Offline Deke

  • Posts: 221
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2017, 07:23 AM »
One point of clarification, most attics are designed to “breath”, so air comes in under the soffits and is exhausted through gable vents, vents on the roof deck, attic fan, ridge vents, etc.  An attic fan in this scenario is fine.  What Dane was pointing out is a whole house fan installed between the ceiling of your living space and attic.  Those can be leaky and you want to stop any leak between that living space and attic.

Thanks. Understood. I just did a quick inspection from below and it is a problem for sure.

Offline Deke

  • Posts: 221
Re: Weather stripping a door - nothing seems to work
« Reply #19 on: December 24, 2017, 10:15 AM »
Happy to help.  I'm always gratified to pass on the gospel of building performance.  If you have an old whole house fan that hasn't been properly sealed, that is what is causing 75 percent of your discomfort.  Unfortunately, traditional HVAC and insulation contractors still haven't gotten on board with the actual science of making a home comfortable and affordable.  An average sized American home has air leakage that is the equivalent of a 2 square foot window being open 24/7.  As you note, insulation alone does little to stop the movement of air.  Heat moves via convection (air movement) far more efficiently than it does through conduction (the movement of heat through a material).  As you note-traditional insulation, like fiberglass and cellulose, does nothing to stop air movement- and therefore very little to stop the movement of heat out of your house.  What should happen, is that the entire surface of the attic should be airsealed first- i.e., all the cracks and holes from lighting fixtures, plumbing and wiring chases, fans, and, if your house is old, possibly huge bypasses created by balloon framing.  After the attic plane is tight, then insulation is put down to slow conductive heat loss.  The airsealing side of the equation doesn't happen 90 percent of the time.  As you can imagine, all of that hot air escaping through the cracks in the building envelope also carries with it significant amounts of moisture.  This causes a number of problems- it reduces the humidity in your house, making it very uncomfortable and it also can cause serious issues when moist air migrates into cold attics and walls.  It can condense on the cold surfaces, causing rot, and it is also the number one cause of ice dams and roof failures. 

Lots to consider. 
I would suggest an excellent book:
https://www.amazon.com/Insulate-Weatherize-Energy-Efficiency-Tauntons/dp/1561585548
and also point you to a great website:
https://buildingscience.com/  look under the "Guidance" tab.

I would also suggest that if you are going to hire a contractor for airsealing and insulation as well as HVAC work in the future, you look for one that is affiliated with the Building Performance Institute: bpi.org .  You may pay a little more up front, but they will actually get to the root cause of your issues and not send you down an endless path of paying for new furnaces, insulation etc and not being satisfied with the work.

Good luck, feel free to IM me if you need any advice.

Hey, want to offer another sincere thank you for this and all the other posters too. I bought and read the book cover to cover. Well worth every penny. Though it may have been seen as a waste of $, I hired an energy auditor/inspector with great reviews on Angies List. I thought I knew enough, but he really helped me learn more, discover additional issues, but also in prioritizing a long list of issues (#1 that attic fan).  His report will include some contractor recommendations, but I will certainly look for the bpi affiliation.  So, I have gone from pretty much total ignorance to having a much better handle on what to do and how it needs to be done. We love our new old house, but I was getting depressed about this. Now I know we can solve these problems. Hope you all have a great (and warm) holiday and happy new year too!