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How To Replace Weatherstripping

Each exterior door in your home has the potential to leak air around all four sides. If each door had a gap of just 1/8th of an inch around it, that would be equal to an opening of about 29 square inches. Put in other terms, it would be like leaving a large window cracked open more than an inch. For every exterior door, it is like leaving open another window. Unsealed doors are wasteful of energy and money. We'll show you how to properly weatherstrip your doors - an easy DIY task.

There are many different types of weatherstripping. Some doors have integral weatherstripping built-in while others have it added on. Most doors use more than one type of weatherstripping. If your door already has weatherstripping, it is probably designed to allow easy removal for periodic replacement as the seals age.

The bottom of the door may have compressive weatherstripping that seals the gap between the door and threshold or a sweep on the exterior side of the door that seals against the side of the threshold. In either case, the old weatherstripping often can be slipped out of its holder and a new piece slips back into the same channel. Otherwise the entire piece can be removed and entirely replaced.

There are several types of weatherstripping that can be used around the sides of a door. While home improvement centers offer a variety of peel and stick compression foam seal, other varieties include interlocking metal strips, springy folded metal or plastic and the most common integral seal - tubular rubber gasket.

If your door already has weather stripping, but it is not sealing tightly, there are a couple possible causes. If the weatherstripping has paint on it, it will lose its flexibility and will not perform well. Either clean off the paint or replace the weatherstripping.

If the door has shifted as a result of seasonal changes or because of settling of your home, the door might need to be realigned. Sometimes this can be accomplished simply by tightening the screws in all the hinges. Another solution is to place thin shims behind one or more of the shims. Roofing felt or similar dense material that can be easily cut can be used to make shims. Doubling the material allows you to adjust to achieve the needed thickness.

Another possibility is that the material has lost its "springiness" and needs to be replaced. Usually replacement is easiest when you replace old weatherstripping with the same kind of material. Switching to a different type is fine, but it might be more work. We recommend removing some of the weatherstripping and take it with you when you shop for replacement material.

Replacement usually involves either slipping old gasket style material out of a channel or peeling off old adhesive style. The new material should install by pressing it into place.

Occasionally the new material may make closing the door difficult. This is not unusual, and the fit should improve over a period of a week or so as the material molds to the new shape.

Keeping your doors well sealed to the elements will cut energy bills and help to prevent water and insect damage. It is easy to do and well worth the time. Don't forget to inspect the seals about once a year to make sure they are still working effectively. Don't forget to maintain window weatherstripping too.

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