Doors are undoubtedly very important to a home. They serve as the barrier between the outside world and your controlled home interior. Thus, it is a necessity for all the doors in your house.
If even just some of the doors in your home aren’t properly sealed, then your home won’t be able to effectively keep the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Here is a brief list of the problems that come with improper door sealing:
– Improper Temperature Control: A lack of a proper door seal renders your central heating and cooling system almost useless, as these doors will ‘leak’ — letting in the cold when it’s supposed to be warm inside, and vice versa. This will cost you a lot of unnecessary expenses as your heating and cooling system works harder than it should.
– Infestation: A poorly installed door can invite insects and other pests, which can easily slip through any cracks and small openings. This can lead to a possible infestation in your home, and cause you a lot of hardship.
– Security Issues: Poorly sealed doors can also invite the other kind of intruders — the human kind. If a door isn’t fitted properly, it is a huge security risk to your home. Poorly sealed doors are much more easily broken into, as the small cracks that exist in between the door frame can allow for tools to slip in and compromise the locking system and security of your door.
– Lack of Functionality: Improperly installed and/or sealed doors simply don’t function very well and is an immediate and obvious sign that something is wrong. These doors might rub against the frame and make it hard to open. They might slam shut unintentionally when closed and become a safety hazard. They become an obstacle to entry, instead of an enabler to one.
– Leakage and Flooding: A door’s seal is meant to keep the outside world out — the weather, temperature, insects and other humans. Improperly sealed doors fail to do this. Water from rainstorms and flooding will easily leak underneath improperly sealed doors, damaging your flooring and walls.
Fortunately, if your doors are properly installed and insulated (as well as your windows), these issues can be mitigated. In order to ensure that your door’s seals and insulation are working properly, you’ll need to have it installed correctly. But if your door has already been installed, you might want to consider having the door and its frame inspected for the possibility of repair and re-installation.
Inspecting Your Door Seals For Defects
To determine if your door has been properly installed and that its seals are working, you’ll need to inspect each door at every entrance in your home. To properly inspect your home, you need to perform these steps.
– Perform a Visual Inspection: On the interior and exterior frames on each door at each entrance, you will want to visually inspect them for certain defects. If you find any of them, you can be certain that the door’s frame needs to be either repaired or refitted. These defects are:
– Old Or Faulty Caulking: Caulking is a white paste-like material that binds and seals the door frame to the wall. If this caulking is too old or has failed, it will fail to maintain this seal and thus allow the outside elements to leak into your home. It will need to be re-applied if this is the case.
– Light Infiltration: You can either do this in broad daylight or with a bright flashlight. With the door closed, inspect the outer perimeter of the door for any signs of light leaking through the cracks. If any light comes through, then your door isn’t properly sealed.
– Faulty Weather Stripping: Weather stripping is strips of rubber or metal used to keep the elements out, and can be found on both the frame of the door and the door itself. Clean this stripping if it is dirty, then inspect it for any signs of wear and tear. If you find any, replace the stripping.
– Cleanliness: Speaking of cleaning, a significant amount of dirt, mold, fungus, or dust buildup can impair a perfectly fine door seal. Regularly inspect and clean any dirt and obstructions to prevent this. If you have coat hangers near your doors, make sure that the ends of any coats or clothing don’t catch in the door crack as it closes.
– Tighten The Hinges: The small issue of loose hinges can be enough of an issue that it can interfere with a door’s function and snugness within its frame.
If you can grab the doorknob and lift the door up, then the hinges aren’t secure enough. Tighten any loose hinges to ensure that the door can function properly and create a tight seal.
– Feel For Drafts: A simple test, and one that is more effective the windier and colder it is outside. Make sure your house is at least room temperature. Simply feel around the edges of the door or frame for any air passing through.
– Cold air is easier to feel than warm air at the bottom of the door, and warm air is easier to feel at the top, though you’ll notice colder air faster than warmer air.
– Use a “Smoke Test”: An excellent way to test the seal of a door is to use a smoke test. This test measures the ambient smoke flow of a lit stick of incense to detect any leaks in your door seal. To perform this test, you will need to prepare by:
- Closing all windows and doors in your home.
2. Turning off any combustion appliances, such as stoves, furnaces, and water heaters.
3. Turning on your kitchen and bathroom exhaust vents.
Doing so will create negative atmospheric pressure inside your home that will suck outside air in, allowing the smoke test to function.
4. Making sure it isn’t windy outside.
Of course, the wind will interfere with the test.
Once this is done, light an incense stick and hold it near the edges of the door — far back enough so that smoke can flow adjacent to the frame and crack.
Then, look for any noticeable changes in smoke flow. If there is, smoke will waiver and be drawn through any cracks by the negative pressure inside your home. If there is no change in smoke flow, you can be sure that there are no leaks near that door.
– Use An Infrared Camera: As mentioned, one of the functions of a properly sealed door is to keep outside temperatures outside. Therefore, if your door’s seals are not properly working, you can measure any temperature leaks through an infrared camera or thermometer.
In areas where warmer air is leaking through a door when it shouldn’t be (and vice versa), you will be able to spot warmer readings around the areas where the door is leaking than the rest of the door. Infrared imagery is color-coded, making it easy to understand and use.
– Call In A Professional: Finally, if you have neither the time nor desire to test your home for leakage yourself, you can call in a professional energy auditor to test your home for energy leakage. They will conduct a special “blower-door” test.
This test is essentially the same as the smoke test from earlier. Its results are the same and the test itself is usually very cheap, if not free in many areas and municipalities.
After All This
If you have determined that there is a leak in one or more of your exterior doors, you might have to reinstall, repair, or replace the door — depending on the nature of the leak. All of these options can be done yourself, but you might consider professional help if the issue proves to be too extreme to be convenient for you.
– If the caulking around the frame of the door is faulty and needs to be replaced, then the frame of the door will need to be torn off and resealed with fresh caulk.
This will involve removing the (heavy) door off of the frame as well. If you aren’t a very handy person or don’t have any extra help on hand, this is best handled by professionals. In most cases, it is simply a matter of installing fresh caulk in the door frame and re-seating the door. It is relatively quick.
– If the issue is simply worn or faulty weather-stripping, it is a simple matter to buy and install replacement stripping — be it rubber or metal.
– If the door’s seal is compromised due to an incorrect install, aged door, or a damaged door (which could be due to water damage, weather, etc.), then you will need to buy a brand new door and have it installed.
In the case of weather damage, you may also need to inspect the surrounding frame and wall in case this also needs to be tended to.
Door Repair/Installation Services: What To Look For
Let us assume for the sake of this article that you want professional servicing, should you need it. You will want to select a reputable door installation/repair service that is affordable for your budget and understands the situations that a door will need to be able to withstand.
You will want a company that produces highly insulated doors, for example, because of Canada’s infamous winters. Such an option would also be very cost effective and will help you conserve energy, which is another thing you should consider besides quality.
Look for a company that has flexible hours of operation and can handle your specific needs and problems. You will want, for example, a company that handles garage door maintenance.
If you own or operate a public site or company, you will want a company that offers after hour service so as to not inconvenience clients and customers.
If you have automatic door systems, your company of choice will need to be able to maintain them properly. As you can see, it is best to carefully think about the needs of your property — commercial or private – before proceeding.