Keep Your Patio Doors Draft Free This Winter
Patio doors are wonderful to look out without going outdoors, but when they leak air, either hot or cold, they cause a lot of energy loss and that can cost a lot of money as well as making your home uncomfortable.
When your patio door is drafty and winter winds are blowing, you can do something about it. Start by finding out exactly where the draft is coming in. You'll need to tackle different areas in different ways.
Wet your finger and move it close to where it seems the air is coming. You should be able to feel it. If you aren't sure, light a candle or a match and move it slowly around the area. When you find a place where the cold winter air is coming in, the flame will flicker or dance.
If the draft is on the floor, a very long draft dodger, also known as a draft stopper, may be all you need. You can make your own if you're handy with a sewing machine or needle and thread, or you can simply use a rolled up rug or towels to fit snugly against the bottom where the patio door meets the floor.
If the draft is on the side that doesn't slide, use caulking to seal it off. Get clear caulking and put it on as neatly as you can, removing the excess. Make sure to cover the entire area well. After the caulk settles, use a match, a candle or a wet finger to make sure no air is moving through it.
If the draft comes from the side where the patio door slides into the wall, you'll need weather stripping. Put the stripping on the wall side of the patio door and position it so that when the door is closed, there is no winter air coming through. Weather stripping is inexpensive, so if you don't get it just right the first time, try again.
Latches and handles can leak air, too, so check around them carefully. You may be able to tighten them with screws or place washers where they may be loose. If this isn't possible, use clear caulk to seal off the holes, even if they're very small.
The hardest part to fix is where the draft comes in between the two sliding doors. Weather stripping is needed here, but it's difficult to put into place because it needs to go between the doors. If you can't make that work and won't be using the doors during the winter, try stuffing narrow strips of cloth between them. Use a butter knife to push the strips into place.
Another possibility would be to cover the whole thing with plastic on the inside. This may not look very good and it's hard to position such a large piece of plastic, so this option is only for the very desperate and only as a last resort.
Many companies sell the weather stripping foam that can really help. This weather stripping is simple foam and has a glue sticky backing that is easy to adhere to the door frame.
The worst leaks I have found are right around the door locks. And that is mainly because it is the hardest place to put the foam weather stripping. Before adhering the foam weather stripping, make sure to clean the wood frame, this will help the weather stripping stay in place.
As mentioned, windows and sliding glass doors are hard to keep the cold air out. But companies like 3M make great plastic for sliding glass doors that can raise the insulation level and keep the cold air out. You can find these products at stores like Ace Hardware and Home Depot.
Caulking outside around the window frames is excellent, but an area that is sometimes missed, is in the inside, underneath the windowsills. They can have a large gap that you can plug using indoor caulking.
Another part of the home is the electrical outlets on outside walls. You can easily replace them with insulated outlet covers available at all hardware stores.
These simple tips can keep your home warmer and more comfortable and the heating bills down.