What to Do with Drafty Doors

Its time.  You can’t avoid it anymore.  The cold weather is setting in once again and you are unable to ignore that annoying cold draft every time you walk by that front door.  In the past you might have tried a few DIY tricks to keep the cold out, but none of them seemed to be very good and they certainly didn’t last more than one season.  They also looked unappealing!  It’s time to take it more seriously and find a solution that will fix the problem once and for all.

The first step to finding a solution is to assess the potential cause of the draft.

1.    Check the door knob and hardware around it.  Is it loose?  Is the keyhole an old-fashioned skeleton key?  If so, it is an opening to the outside with no protection.

2.    Does your door have single pane glass?  Again this is a definite heat loss area.

3.    When you look at the door frame, do you see light from the outside leaking in the sides, bottom or top?  If light can get in, so can the wind.

4.    Take a closer look at the top corner of your door and push on it – if it moves easily without you actually opening the door, this would indicate it has separated from the weather stripping, or has warped.

5.    When you look along the door in relation to the edge of the door jam, if it is not parallel, then this is another sign that your door is out of alignment and has separated from its weather stripping.

6.    The most telling test is if you can slide a dollar bill under the door from the outside – if it slides through easily – you know the cold air is getting in just as easily there.

Ok – you figured out the issues causing your door to be drafty.  What is the next step?  You need to select a contractor who specializes in doors to assess whether the existing door can be repaired or whether the best option is to completely replace it with a professionally installed new door.

Before contacting a contractor, be sure to think about what it is you want – do you want to preserve the existing door because it is a hand carved solid wood antique and beautiful to look at?  Or do you want to simply replace it with an updated new door.  Are there new security features you want to add to it while you are getting the work done? (such as a peephole, steel kick plate or extra deadbolt lock).   Everyone has their own preferences and it is best to sort these out in your mind before beginning the conversation with a contractor.

There are a few general rules of thumb to follow when you choose a contractor:

1.    Always get at least three quotes from three separate contractors.  No matter how good your first quote seems, be sure to get at least two others.  This will either make you feel great about picking the first one, or open your eyes to the real price range.

2.    Check the contractor’s references. Nothing tells you more about a contractor’s reliability than talking to a few of his satisfied past clients.  If he doesn’t provide you with references, then you should move on.

3.    Confirm the contractor is fully insured. Even if fixing a door is not as dangerous as dealing with a roof, accidents do happen. You need to legally protect yourself while he is on your property.

4.    Set clear job parameters – be clear about your required timeline and budget.  Keep it straightforward for both of you by writing it down in a job deal memo so that any issues around timing and prices can be discussed before the work begins.

Though it might be time consuming, just remember how getting your drafty door fixed now will give you enjoyment of a warm cozy home for many years to come.