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Common household remedies request

OK, insulating doors in old houses.

This season is my year to stop up drafts (since the replacement windows are in, the fill is in the attic, the pipes are wrapped, the world's worst crawlspace is sealed up, and all that). So I'm going to go round and stop drafts around plugs and switches, add shrinkwrap to the windows, and so on.

But the biggest issue is doors, because in an old house, which has gradually settled over time, not only are the door frames not truly rectangular, the doors aren't even the same untrue rectangles as the frames. So, how to weatherstrip them?

1. One solution would be to go medieval, and simply hang a tapestry. That might work for the door to the attic, since it's inside, but it will shut out the light and be awkward on the doors that open to the outside.

2. I've tried weather-sealing sticky-backed tape on windows, and it seemed fragile there; I can't imagine it's strong enough to work with a door. Though I could be wrong.

3. On doors, I've tried the kind of plastic tubing that has a metal or plastic lip; you press the tubing tight up against the door when it's closed, and then nail or screw to the doorframe through the lip. The door, when shut, presses against the tube, creating a seal. This isn't so good, since you have to pull the door shut, and I'm not so crazy about all the nails in the doorframe, either.

4. I've never tried V-strips, though I have to say these seem like the most old-fashioned and rugged.


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Salmo's picture
Submitted by Salmo on

I used 1" closed cell board and duct tape for all but one door when I owned one of those homes with character. That door can have a storm door to reduce draft, but it will still be drafty.

gmoke's picture
Submitted by gmoke on

We've been using a product called QLon for doors in the weatherization barnraisings we do once a month in Cambridge, MA (see for more). Next one is October 24 to coincide with 350 day (see for more).

Energy expert Michael Blasnik says that, unfortunately, replacing windows are not cost effective in terms of energy savings (there may be other benefits including better sound insulation and security). He suggests sealing the leaks in the attic and roof and those in the basement and foundation as that is where a lot of infiltration and exfiltration takes place, creating a stack effect to wick heat out of your home.

Here's how I winterize a window

splashy9's picture
Submitted by splashy9 on

Then just push an old pair of jeans or other cloth material (towels will work) we don't care about against the bottom. It works, and you can wash them when they get dirty. It's cheap too.

We also have one of those old houses where "squared up" doesn't exist. Every time we do anything we have to make it custom for the spot. Kinda frees you up from squares, that's for sure!

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

when he says replacements aren't an energy-saver.

Get rid of those sashweights and their concomitant hollow columns in the wall next the window and fill that space with insulation to shut down a major cause of heat loss, especially on lower floors (of course you're gonna raise your radon risk if you stop all exfiltration, but you're gonna die from something someday anyway, right?).

The good new windows I want for my 1957 house are the ones with insulated frames and double-pane glass (in other words, raise them up to the standards Blasnik's talking about not needing to replace). There's a tax break of up to $1500 for the right ones. I only need one in the kitchen, one in the bathroom, one in the office, two in the utility room, and two each in all three bedrooms. The big bay window in the living room I want to convert to a greenhouse-box window with openable sides, so that might take another pair off the list (but the window I want to put in there lists for $4718.29 b4 taxes, ouch.)