Threshold seals help house dodge drafts

CUT UTILITY BILLS

November 27, 1993|By James Dulley | James Dulley,Contributing Writer

Q: I have weatherstripped my front and side doors, but there's a draft coming in underneath them. How can I seal out the drafts under the doors without having the seal rub on my carpet when opening the door?

A: The threshold seal under a door is often neglected when weatherstripping. It receives the most abuse from opening and closing the door and from feet and objects being dragged over it. Just a small leak there can cause cold feet in the winter and can push up your utility bills year-round.

There are literally hundreds of different designs, shapes and materials of door threshold seals. Some use new resilient plastic materials that wear extremely well and retain their shape for a durable long-lasting seal.

Your problem with the threshold seal rubbing and wearing your carpet is a common one. The best type of threshold seal to protect your carpet is an automatic-lifting seal. There are several designs available.

The easiest design to install screws on to the surface of the door at the bottom. It is only about 1 to 2 inches high and barely noticeable. This is good for both wood and insulated steel doors.

For solid wood doors, you can mount it the same way or rout out the door bottom to recess the seal. This is more work, but the seal is totally hidden under the door.

When you close the door, a tiny rod pushes against the door jamb on the hinge side. This forces the flexible seal down so it seals tightly against the floor or threshold. Although an automatic seal is more expensive than a standard one, it should last a long time since it doesn't rub.

Another option is to install an aluminum or wood threshold, with a built-in vinyl bulb seal, underneath the door. You will have to cut a small amount off the bottom of your door for clearance. This works well if the floor under your door is worn down.

Its only drawback is that the vinyl bulb can get damaged over time by the pitter patter of your children's feet and the friction of the door bottom. Replacement vinyl bulb seals are inexpensive and slip easily in place.

You can add an attractive wood threshold on the floor beneath your door and use a door sweep seal. Some new sweeps, made of silicon, are more durable than the common vinyl sweeps you usually find. They wear well and remain flexible at cold temperatures. You can get multiple-sweep seals and door shoes to deflect rain too.

Write for Utility Bills Update No. 463 listing advantages and disadvantages of each type of door threshold seal, do-it-yourself installation instructions and diagrams, and detailed information on the automatic-lifting seals. Please include $1.50 and a self-addressed business-size envelope.

Send to James Dulley, c/o The Baltimore Sun, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244.

Q: I have a crawl space underneath my house. The floor above it is insulated. There are outdoor vents in the crawl space, but there is still mold on the underside of the floor lumber. Why?

A: Venting your crawl space was a good idea, but only a partial solution. You also should lay 6-mil thick plastic vapor barrier over the ground and up the crawl space walls to the top. This blocks the moisture.

To kill the mold on the joists, mix one-half to three-quarters cup of bleach to a gallon of water. Spray it on the joists. Wear safety goggles.

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