How To Eliminate Air Leaks In Drafty Doors This Winter


The only thing worse than cold drafts coming into your home and warm air escaping during the blustery winter season is seeing the proof on your heating bill. Whether your home is heated via gas or electric, those tiny cracks that seem so insignificant can actually have a huge impact on your wallet.

During the daytime, look for any light coming through the space between your exterior doors and their thresholds, jambs and casings. You can pretty much guarantee that where there's light coming through, there's air as well. If you don't see light but can feel the cold, you can double check for drafts by holding a lit candle or lighter near the cracks and watching to see if the flame flickers.

When I moved into my new home a month ago, a quick survey of the back door told me that I was in need of some serious weatherstripping and caulking: there were massive gaps of light all around the door. Unfortunately, this job kept getting pushed to the bottom of the to-do list, but one cold snap with only small electric baseboard heaters to keep me warm was all it took to get me in motion. I purchased several rolls of self-adhesive all-climate rubber weatherstripping, a tube of all-purpose caulk to seal small problem areas, and a sweep for the front door.


This first step in weatherproofing my doors was simple as pie. In my previous residence, I had tried to cut corners and use the cheaper foam weatherstripping, which was not nearly as effective as the rubber option I chose this second time around.

After giving the door threshold and casing a thorough cleaning to ensure maximum adhesion, I unrolled the weatherstripping, held it in place to measure exactly how much I'd need, and then I cut the proper length. From there, all it took was unpeeling the covers of both adhesive strips and carefully pressing it into place on the door casing.

My first reaction was to sit back and bask in the glow of my handiwork, but when I closed the door, I could still see some gaps where light and air were coming through... On to step two.


Just like every home improvement job, caulking is an easy task if you have the right tools. It may seem blatantly obvious, but this definitely deserves a mention: when selecting your tube of caulk in the paint section, be sure to also grab a caulk gun if you don't already own one.

After applying your weatherstripping, it's time to get in there and fill the leftover gaps. Caulk is perfect for this step. Place the tube in your caulk gun, cut a 45 degree angle in the tip, make sure you have plenty of dampened rags handy to wipe away and smooth the excess (I prefer the blue Shop Towels) and get to work! Applying the caulk slowly and methodically, run along the seam and smooth with your rag or towel. Be sure to follow the guidelines on drying times on your tube of caulk before shutting the door.

Once the caulk is dry, shut your door and do your final checks for gaps and cracks. You may need another application of caulk, or you may need to apply another section of weatherstripping to make the final seal.

Door Sweeps

You can weatherstrip and caulk all day long, but some doors will require the installation of a sweep at the threshold to keep drafts from entering at the bottom. Fortunately, these are self-contained and fairly explanatory. Some sweeps attach at the inside of the door, the outside, or directly to the bottom, just be sure to read and follow the instructions.

My sweep was fairly simple to install and fortunately allowed me to keep the door on the hinges. I simply positioned it at the bottom of the door, marked and pre-drilled the holes that would receive the screws, then lined it up and screwed it in place.

These are just a few simple ways to keep your house warm and your heating bills low this winter. What are some smart ways you weatherproof your home?

Bob Young

Bob Young

Real Estate for Sale in West Michigan
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