Weather-Stripping Doors for Your Passive Solar House
The easiest way to weather-strip a door is to close it off altogether for the winter months and caulk it with a removable caulk for the heating season. If you are able to do this with one of your doors, and you also have a storm door that fits this door, you can fill the space between the two doors with a batt-type insulation. If you don’t have this option, you might still insulate a closed off door from the inside with an insulated panel. The panel would need to be sealed around the edges in such a manner that it could be removed come spring time.
Exterior doors which must remain in use must be carefully sealed since even a well hung door with only a 1/8 inch gap around the door provides the same amount of air escape route as a 6 inch round opening through the wall. Remember, an attic hatch opening needs to be as well sealed as any door does.
The top and the sides of a door can be sealed in the same manner that a window is sealed. Flexible “V” shaped plastic weather-stripping, or adhesive foam attached to the door frame where the door rests up against it work well if they permit a tight fit. The gap beneath the bottom of a door requires a more substantial form of weather-stripping.
Weather-Stripping the Bottom of The Door (A bit trickier)
There are four main ways that doors are sealed on the bottom. These are: door sweeps, door shoes, gasketted thresholds and interlocking thresholds.
Door sweeps are fastened to the bottom of the door They may be attached to the inside or to the outside of the door. A sturdy mounting strip is attached to the bottom of the door and a brush or plastic strip touches the floor, or buts against the threshold. You don’t have to remove a door from its hinges in order to install a door sweep. An uneven floor surface or gap could make installing a floor sweep difficult. A door sweep may have to be replaced every couple of years in some cases due to wear and tear. So, if you do have a door sweep, make sure to check it every year at least to see if it needs replacement.
Door shoes are foam or vinyl gaskets which are applied to the bottom edge of a door by nailing or screwing the shoe in place. Door shoes tend to last longer than sweeps do, they have a five year life expectancy. However they require that the door be removed from its hinges in order to install them.
A gasketted threshold is applied not to the door, but rather, it is applied to the threshold. The gasketted threshold provides a vinyl hump at the threshold which is compressed when the door closes thus creating a good seal. You must measure carefully before installing so that you may be sure that the gasket makes good contact with the door, and provides a tight seal. An even space beneath the door would be needed.
An interlocking threshold combines a door shoe (applied to the door) and a metal attachment (applied at the threshold and which increases the effectiveness of the door shoe). This is weather-stripping technique requires the most skill in installing.
The Sand-Bag Method of Weather-Stripping The Threshold
If one is unable to install weather stripping to the bottom of a door, as described above, at simple alternative is to sew a fabric tube that is the width of the base of the door and then to fill this tube with sand. The tube would then be laid snugly against the bottom of the door when in use. This flexible door stopper would conform to any un-even gaps beneath the door. It could be used at least as a stop gap measure if house settling, or timber shrinkage causes previously weather-stripped doors to open up new gaps beneath them.
The tube would need to be lifted up and put in place every time the door would be opened and closed. That would be inconvenient, but until a more user friendly alternative became available it would still be a helpful option. At the very least, if you were trying to close off some of the rooms in your house during winter months a fabric door stopper would be of great assistance in isolating the closed off room from the rest of the house without requiring much installation effort.
Anderson, Bruce and Malcolm Wells.(1994) Passive Solar Energy Second Edition, The Homeowner's Guide to Natural heating and Cooling. Brick House Publishing Company, Amherst, New Hampshire,
Bossong, Ken and Jan Pilarski.(1982) Passive Solar Retrofit for Homeowners and Apartment Dwellers. Citizens' Energy Project, Wash D.C. report series no.137" Home owner's Guide to Passive Solar: An Overview"
This post is part of the series: Passive Heating and Cooling
- Passive Heating And Cooling
- How Does a Passive Solar Heating System Work? Direct, Indirect & Isolated Gain
- Home Energy Conservation: Step One to Passive Solar
- Save Your Heating and Cooling Energy by Controling Convective Heat Loss and Cooling Losses
- Window Weather Stripping for Your Passive Solar House
- Door Weather Stripping for Energy Conservation
- Save Your Heating and Cooling Energy by Controling Conductive Energy Losses