If you feel a draft around your front door, chances are you're wasting energy and throwing money away through leaks around the perimeter. To keep an airtight seal around the door, you may need to replace its old, worn-out weather stripping. Or if your door is very old, it may never have had weather stripping in the first place, and you'll need to add it to stop the drafts. In either case, here's what you'll need to do to solve the problem.
1. Start by checking for loose hinges: Lift the door by the doorknob -- if it moves upward easily, tighten the screws of the top door hinge. If the door is so worn that the hinge screws no longer bite, remove the screws, glue wooden plugs into the holes, and drive the screws back into place.
2. Check for drafts: Run your hand around the perimeter of the door when it's closed. If you feel a draft and the door includes integral weather stripping, then the weather stripping has likely cracked or warped and needs replacement. If there is no weather stripping, you'll need to add some.
3. Replace old weather stripping: To replace it, open the door and slide out the old weather stripping. Purchase a replacement kit with vinyl or foam that matches the existing weather stripping and slide new weather stripping into the grooves in the door or the surrounding frame. To find new weather stripping that exactly matches in profile, try to identify the door manufacturer or vendor by checking the door and frame for a label, and contact either to see if they can provide replacement stripping. Alternatively, you can find replacement weather strip products at your local home improvement center.
4. Alternatively, purchase new weather strip for a door that doesn't have it: If you have an old door without weather stripping, or a door that you can't find matching weather stripping for, you can add or replace it using a weather stripping kit that's readily available at most home centers. These kits include various types of weather stripping, including bronze, wood or metal flanges wrapped with foam, and metal flanges lined with vinyl or silicone bulbs. The kits contain two side strips, a top strip, and fasteners. Consult with the store experts before choosing. They may refer you to a catalog to order the type that you'll need.
5. Measure the new weather strip: After you've purchased the appropriate kit, close the door and measure the top of the exterior frame from side to side. Measure and mark the length on the short section of the weather stripping and cut the foam or vinyl part of the strip with a utility knife or scissors and the metal or wood with a hacksaw.
6. Install the new weather strip: Starting at the top, place the stripping along the exterior of the door against the jamb with the foam or vinyl against the door, compressing slightly but not too much or the door won't latch when you close it. Then nail or screw in place, positioning the nails or screws about 2 inches in from each end (to avoid splitting), and spacing the others about 12 inches apart.
7. Next, insert the side strips: Measure and cut the side strips with coped cuts (where one piece is cut square and the other piece is cut to fit over it) at one end of each to make a clean, tight joint at the top. Use a scrap to trace the line. Cut the foam with a scissors, and cut the metal or wood section of the profile with a coping saw. Make the coped cut first, leaving extra length for the bottom cut. Then cut the bottoms. File or sand the cuts for a smooth fit. Make sure that the weather stripping fits snugly all around and that the door shuts and latches easily before you drive the nails in. For small adjustments, pull the nails and start them in a new spot. If you're using metal weather stripping, loosen the screws to adjust. If you use a wooden flange, paint or stain it to match the door.
8. Determine if you can add a door sweep: You'll also want to add a door sweep if possible. To determine if you need one, close the door and look for light coming through or feel for a draft. If you see a lot of light or feel a draft, install a new door sweep. If you see light or feel a draft, you should add a sweep. If the floor or carpet is even with or higher than your threshold, you can't add a sweep.
9. Install the door sweep: If you can add a sweep, consider an easy-to-install face-mount door sweep with a flexible vinyl flap. Measure the width of the door from inside and mark the length on the sweep and cut it, using a scissors or utility knife for the vinyl and a hacksaw for the metal part. Hold the sweep in place allowing the flexible portion to lightly touch the threshold. Mark the screw positions, drill pilot holes with a 3/32-inch drill bit, and then screw in place onto the inside face of the door.
Jean Nayar is a licensed real estate agent and design journalist who's authored nine books on decorating and design, including Green Living by Design, the best-selling Staged to Sell (or Keep) and The Happy Home Project: A Practical Guide to Adding Style and Substance to Your Home. The former editor in chief of Kitchens & Baths, Easy Decorating and Remodeling & Makeovers blogs at TheHappyHomeWorkshop.com about living with style, sustainability and substance.
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