The exterior doors on your home often, significantly contribute to air leakage, and, in the process, also waste money through energy loss, especially if it’s old, uninsulated, improperly installed, and/or improperly air sealed.
Weather-stripping can reduce the energy loss due to air leakage, but it isn’t a complete solution to the problem, it’s more like putting a bandage on a cracked water pipe. Weather-stripping will hold off some of the air leakage but it can’t stop all of it. Also, weather-stripping will wear out over time making it less effective until it falls off completely.
The only true solution to air leakage and the high energy bills that goes with it is to get new exterior doors.
Choosing New Exterior Doors
New exterior doors will solve your draft and energy bill problem, and if you choose the proper doors, they will last for years to come. The entry door you choose needs to be strong enough to withstand wind, rain, hot summer days, freezing temperatures and would-be intruders.
Besides being able to withstand whatever Mother Nature can throw at them, your exterior doors also need to look great and compliment the outside of your house.
This is a lot to expect from a door. However, if you choose the right exterior door. Most older doors were made of wood or wood veneer, both had a tendency to warp, crack and delaminate after years of exposure to the elements.
However, metal doors don’t last forever either, the surface on some older metal doors are subject to peeling.
Replacing Your Old Exterior Door
In some cases, you will only need to take the old door off its hinges and replace it with the new door. This is obviously your best case scenario since it is the least expensive and easiest route to take.
However, in some cases, you will need to rip out the old door, frame and all. This includes the door jambs and threshold, especially if the wooden frame, jambs and threshold are rotten, or are beginning to show signs of rot.
Even if the current door frame is still in good shape, the studs it’s nailed to can become bowed and is no longer square. The bowing of the studs is, in most cases what makes the door difficult to open and close.
To make a new door fit into a warped frame, you’ll need to plane the top and bottom, or in some cases, trim one of the edges of the frame so the door hangs properly.
This is the only option for wood doors. Other doors, such as metal and fiberglass obviously can’t be cut or planed.
Most new doors come pre-hung. This means the door is already attached to the new frame by its hinges. Prehung doors are an excellent choice when the old frame is in bad shape or if you’re removing the frame because you want to enlarge the opening.
There are a few things to consider if you decide to replace your old door with a pre-hung unit. First, decide if you need a left- or right-hand door. While standing at the door, facing outside, if the lockset is on your right, you have a right-hand door.
To choose the proper jamb size, measure the height and width of the existing door jamb between the inside edges of the casing. Add ½ inch to the frame height and ½ inch to ¾ inch to the width. The width of the door is measured across its face. Most doors are sold as 3-0 (36 inches) or wider.
Rather than replacing the whole door frame, using a door-replacement kit is an alternative. With a door-replacement kit, the door is pre-hung in a small steel frame that attaches to the old one.
The benefits to just replacing the door, rather than the whole frame include easy installation and the added security of the steel frame. However, these kits slightly reduce the original opening, they’re available in only a few sizes, and they can’t be installed over rotted jambs.
When you find yourself in need of a new door you actually may have more options than you originally thought you had. It is for this reason you really should consult an expert on the issue to make sure you don’t wind up spending more money than you need and adding items you can get away without adding.
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