Sealed Up Tight

For those of you who don’t live in frigid climates, it may come as a surprise that each year we go through a process of “winterizing” our houses. The point: seal up your house as tightly as possible as to not be found dead from cold sometime after the spring thaw. With snow already on the ground and a furnace that’s been on for a month now, I decided to tackle the project I’d been putting off since buying my house, winterizing all of the doors.

There are two reasons I didn’t do this last year and again procrastinated these past few weeks: first, my fear of drills (my dad had a permanently disfigured finger from having a screw driver slip and jab his tendon. It’s scared me for life, though I’m getting pretty confident with a drill these days.) and second, because I thought it’d be really difficult and didn’t think I’d be able to do it on my own.

These are before and after pictures of the worst of my 5 exterior doors. I realize it’s not a dramatic picture, but in person it was. (I also realize this door is super ugly. Anyone got an exterior door laying around?) Previously (meaning all last winter, sadly) you could see light all the way around the outside of the door which meant freezing cold air blew into our hallway all winter.

Fixing this door is going to make such a huge difference this winter, it’s embarrassing that I didn’t get this done last year. To my benefit it did also take two full days of fixing the 8 doors, a pretty hefty time commitment. Seeing as I’m still rocking the unemployed-life-of-glory, it’s projects like this that I’m finally checking off the list.

If you too want to seal up your doors, this is how I did it:

1) Adjust the strike plates! Meaning, open your door and shut it taking note of where the latch connects against the strike plate. You want to adjust the strike plate along the door jamb so that when the door is closed it’s held securely against the frame of the door. This way when you install weather stripping around the door jambs, a seal will be created protecting you against the winter wind.

2) Install weather stripping around door jambs. There’s disposable sticky foam that comes in rolls and which is suppose to be used for weather stripping doors. This stuff is junk, get the good stuff which is about $30/door but is installed and left in place serving its purpose for years. It’s made of metal stripping and fabric covered foam that you cut down to size with a hack saw and screw into place around around both the vertical sides and top of your door jambs. Install it so that when the door is closed–latch pressing tightly again the strike plate–a seal is created by the foam fabric. Adjust the placement of the metal stripping to make sure this seal is a good one otherwise you just wasted your time. There’s a separate thing you get for the bottom of your door and it screws directly to the inside of your door.

3) Bonus step! Cut out chunks of insulation board to fit snugly inside your door jambs to further insulate from the elements. This door leads from our front porch directly into our craft room where I spend many of my days and nights. Thus, it’s getting special treatment to ensure that we stay warm. I’m thinking I may plastic over the whole thing too. Who needs to go out on the porch in the winter anyway?

Despite some of the crazy preparations that go into surviving, I love the winters here. This afternoon, as I hack-sawed away in the back yard, it started snowing again and I took note of how quiet falls over the city with each fluttering snow flake. Not much else is as peaceful and serene.


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