Right storm doors let warm breezes in, stop cold winds

March 06, 1993|By James Dulley | James Dulley,Contributing Writer

Q: My front door looks bad, and I want to install attractive storm doors (on the back door, too) for additional security, ventilation in the summer and energy savings. How can I tell which doors are the best?

A: The new designs of storm doors not only save energy year-round and provide added security and protection, but are very attractive. The best ones feature elegant beveled glass, solid brass trim and come in many styles. Solid wood storm doors can also be stained for a rich natural look.

A new storm door often looks better than most primary front doors.

There is as much variation in the quality of storm doors as in primary entrance doors. The best storm doors have 15-year to lifetime guarantees.

Features to consider are the number of tracks for the glass and screen, the door frame material, whether or not it is hollow, and the types of hinges, hardware and weatherstripping seals.

A self-storing, triple-track storm door offers the greatest convenience and flexibility. The screen is in the outermost track and covers the entire glass area. There are two tempered glass sections, each in its own track.

For summer ventilation with a triple track, you can remove the glass sections for a full screened open area. You can also move both sections to the middle. This leaves a screened gap at the top and bottom, creating a natural low inlet to high outlet air-flow pattern. By dropping one glass section to the bottom, you can protect the screen from children and pets.

High-quality storm doors can be made of aluminum, vinyl or wood. If aluminum or vinyl, they should be filled (insulation or high-grade particle board is best), not hollow, or they can warp, twist or dent easily. Doors must be very rigid or the weatherstripping will not fit and seal properly.

You should be able to easily install one of these high-quality storm doors in several hours.

With heavy duty "prowler-proof" hinges, the pins can not be removed from the outside. Permanently lubricated bronze hinge bushings ensure quiet, friction-free operation.

The storm door hardware -- latch or dead bolt and handle -- should be strong with a durable finish. A solid brass handle is often used on premium-quality doors.

There should be single or double weather seals all around the door; Q-Lon weatherstripping is particularly durable. A double or triple sweep weather seal on the base of the door is best.

You can write to me for Utility Bills Update No. 248, a buyer's guide of high-quality storm doors that lists manufacturers, number of tracks, types of construction, insulation, hinges, weatherstripping and information on a self-storing triple-track model. Include $1.50 and a self-addressed business-size envelope.

Q: I am converting our old attached garage into a bedroom. It faces the north so I want to install as small a window as possible for efficiency. How small a window should I install?

A: You are correct in minimizing the window area on the north side of a room. The window does not collect any direct solar heat and is subject to cold winter winds.

However, most building codes require one escape window in each bedroom. The size may vary, depending on your local codes, but it usually must be at least 20 inches wide and 22 to 24 inches high. Install a low-e argon gas window.

Correspondence should be addressed to James Dulley, c/o Baltimore Sun, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244.

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