Drafty Doors 101: Tips to Fixing and Preventing Them

It never ceases to fail. Your home can be hundreds of years old, or brand new yet drafts still find a way inside. Drafts are troublesome for homeowners that want to maximize energy efficiency and have quality soundproofing.

Thankfully there are some tips for fixing and preventing drafty doors. The gaps in the construction of the door, regardless of the age of the structure, contribute to unwanted air flow just like the ones that travel in from windows, pipes, attic hatches, and ceiling-to-wall joints.

drafty doors

What are Drafts?

Drafts are created when the warm air in a home leaks out and gets replaced, or pushed out by cold air. There are two primary causes for air drafts in a home.

First, when cold air blows up against the side of a building it creates a pressure difference between the interior and exterior air. The pressure leads to a suction effect where the cold air seeks to pull the warm air. Small gaps in the construction of an exterior door are a natural magnet for cool air seeking to enter the building.

Secondly, warm air rises while cold air does not. So while the warm air provided from an indoor heating source like a hot water furnace or fireplace eventually rises up the walls and to the ceiling of the home, the effect subsequently vacuums cooler air to the lower levels which is probably where you spend a lot of time.

Negative Effects of Drafty Doors

There are many reasons why you should address a drafty exterior door as soon as possible, these include:

  • Personal comfort. Your home should be a haven for your relaxation, yet how can you get cozy when unwanted cool air is replacing warm air, especially during the heart of the winter.
  • Higher energy costs. Your heating bill will rise with drafty doors, and sometimes the extra costs are significant. Many are shocked to see how much their monthly bill lowers when they take a few simple measures to eliminate air drafts from doors.
  • Allows a passage for moisture. Mold and mildew like moisture so it’s little surprise that homes with drafty doors have more of it. You not only want to trap out cool air but moisture which is damaging to walls and wood, like on a baseboard or door frame.
  • Allows a passage for critters. You would be hard pressed to find many homeowners that welcome pests like ants, mice, and cockroaches. However, having gaps that are unsealed by doors are basically direct invitations to let them into your home.

Drafty Doors 101: Prevention 

If you just purchased an older home, chances are that you inherited drafty doors. It’s a common problem and many homeowners don’t take many steps to address the issue. Therefore, before winter begins to set in you should get to work on making the new house more energy efficient.

Also, don’t be surprised if you buy a new home and start to notice a draft coming from an exterior door the first winter. It’s not necessarily faulty construction, but just that drafts are difficult to completely eliminate (even with new structures) and a little customization is necessary to help insulate the place.

How to Find a Door Draft

It is not so much a question of discovering that the door is drafty, but rather where the airflow is especially being drawn in from.

When you begin to winterize your home you can try a couple of different tests on exterior doors to gauge not only if a draft is penetrating the area, but where specifically the infrastructure is exposed.

The first step is known as a “flame test”. It is a very simple method to finding drafts. All you need is a match or lighter. First, make a flame then move it along the crease of where the frame meets the door. Check the area where the door slab meets the frame as well.

When the flame begins to flicker, that is a direct indication of not only a draft but the precise location of the compromised position. Please note it’s possible to discover multiple points of exposure on a single door. It happens, and is repairable.

The “paper test” works very much in the same manner yet without the use of a flame if you would rather avoid lighting fire inside the interior of your beloved home. When the paper waves as you move it around the door, air is getting in from that specific point.

Causes of Door Drafts 

There are a number of factors that contribute to a drafty door. In older homes, drafty doors are most commonly a result of worn down weatherstripping where the draft penetrates the interior from underneath the door. Thankfully, there is an easy remedy to replacing old weatherstripping.

Sometimes it’s not so much a problem of the frame or weatherstripping, but the actual door. It is important to keep in mind that while you might think all doors serve the same purpose and have the same qualities, some types of exterior doors are far more energy efficient than others. Wood doors, for example, are not foam insulated and much more prone to being drafty. Fiberglass and steel doors are insulated and much better at keeping out drafts.

Another problem with doors and frames is that they warp and rot. If you inherited an older home chances are some of the wood has been abused after years of letting in unwelcomed drafts. Therefore, you need to create ways to block gaps between the slab and frame to block outside air.

old drafty door opened

Fixing a Drafty Door

There are some simple tips to hopefully solve your drafty door(s). It should be noted that some doors are beyond saving and often it requires a new door and/or remodeling of the actual frame.

The hope is it hasn’t already got to that point and that the problem can get addressed with a more simple remedy. Here are some easy ways to draft-proof your doors:

  • Add new weatherstripping
  • Install new door sweeps
  • Use foam tape
  • Use a door snake
  • Re-caulk the door frame

Weatherstripping & Door Sweeps

A lot of homeowners hope to fix a draft with new weatherstripping and for good reason. It is inexpensive and extremely easy to install. If that seems to help but not fully fix the problem, you may also need new sweeps.

Door sweeps can make a world of a difference. In order to ensure a proper fit, close the door and measure the length of it, then cut the size you need. Also, consider investing in a heavy-duty or drip-cap sweep.

You can also paint or stain a wood sweep to match the flooring or walls so that they do not stand out too much. Before getting too deep in the repairs, try new sweeps and weatherstripping to see how much that helps with the dilemma.

Other Solutions

The sticky foam door tape is a good alternative to warped doors that are not seeing much improvement by simply adding new weatherstripping and sweeps. The foam tape works well in larger gaps on the structure.

Door snakes also work really well in older homes. They are placed at the bottom of the door and the weighted fabric tubes help block out unwanted air. Lastly, you can also reconsider re-caulking the exterior side of the door to help with insulation.

If these simple solutions are not sufficient it may become time to consider realigning the door or replacing it altogether.

Best Solution to Drafty Doors

The best solution to drafty doors is to get a replacement with Feldco. Now with Feldco, you can replace your door with a wide variety of entry doors, storm doors and patio doors. Keeping your drafty door will only cost you more money on energy costs and efficiency.

Let’s assume that you try to fix the problem but you figure out that you’re only putting a bandage on a broken door. At Feldco Chicago, we’ve helped over 350,000 customers with drafty door replacement and they are happier than ever with the outcome. Now’s your chance to save money on energy costs and efficiency, speak to a product specialist and get a free quote today.

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