by Tom Ingram, Coastal Windows & Exteriors

How do you know that it is time to replace your front door?  It seems now a days that people don’t use their front door as much as they use to.  With garage entries and side doors, most of us don’t even think about our front doors.  The problem is most of us now a days understand that we need to replace our old single-pane, non-energy efficient windows, but most of us don’t consider our doors.  If your home has a foyer or staircase leading directly to your front door, your heating and cooling are being wasted more than the average home without a foyer.

Here are 7 ways you can check to see if it’s time for your home to have its old leaky door entry way replaced.

  1. Does your daily workout consist of simply trying to open and close the front door?

If your door is difficult to open and close, it may be time to replace it.  When you feel your door sticking in the winter and easy to open and close in the summer, that’s a sure sign of energy rushing out your door.  If the hinges are sinking, that’s another issue.  But if its sticking into the door jam, your door probably has exposed areas either down the sides or top or bottom where you can see light.  Seeing light from the inside or outside without the door being open is a problem.  If you take a lighter a couple inches around those edges, pay attention to what the flame does.  It will try to move right outside the door.  This indicates leaking air.

  1. Does your door have more dings and rust than a junk yard car?

Dings and rust on a door shows that the structural integrity of the door may be compromised.  Most residential doors off the shelf at a home depot or lowes are laminated 24-26 gauge steel on top of a wood frame.  This is not a very structurally sound door.  These doors barely qualify as a residential door.  Think about it like this- you just pull up to your home after spending two hours at the grocery store.  After you put your car in park you pop the trunk ready to bring in your groceries.  How many trips do you want to take back and forth to your car? Well if youre like me, you have 5 bags going up each arm and both hands full of about 4 other bags.  When you get to the door you give it a little kick to open for the end of your grocery crusade and you notice, you just put a big ugly dent in your front door.  Does something that dents that easily seem fit to protect your home from someone who really wants to kick it in?  If that same door is rusted, you better believe that the moisture isn’t coming from just the exterior but maybe getting into the interior wood frame as well.  Energy efficiency aside, I wouldn’t trust something like that to keep my home and my loved ones safe.

  1. Does your front door have moisture between the panes of glass?

Just like new windows, a lot of doors with glass packages have double-paned glass.  Over time with older doors, the seal between those two panes will fail leading to moisture, mildew and/or mold between the panes of glass.  This is a scary thing to see in a door.  With windows, some people let it go longer than they should because their windows are made of inorganic materials which makes it easier to prolong the amount of time needed to replace the window because there is no fear of mold or mildew spreading to the rest of the home.  When it comes to your front door, the urgency to replace must be much quicker.  Until the past 10 years, all residential doors have had a wood core or frame.  If you have seal failure between your door’s glass panes, the mold/mildew are surrounded by organic material.  Especially if your entry way is shaded or doesn’t receive much direct sunlight, this can be a huge problem.  The last thing any homeowner wants to hear is mold remediation.  Just like the windows in your home, when you have a door with moisture between the panes of glass, its time to replace.

  1. Is your door weathered, warped, or cracked terribly?

Doors can take a beating over their lifetime.  They’re slammed, kicked and exposed to huge tempter changes.  If you have an old solid wood door, it has probably seen better days.  Many of these doors have expanded and contracted over so many winters and summers that they have cracks, are warped and are extremely weathered.  When you inspect your old wooden door, treat it like a door that is difficult to open.  Look for light coming into the room from the “solid” wood door.  Many of these doors have stress fractures in the grains of the door.  These stress fractures expose the outside elements to the inside of your home or vice-versa.

  1. Do you stuff a towel under your door to keep the freezing weather out of your home?

If this is the case, you get a B for effort. You can rest easy knowing at least you’ve identified the problem.  But there is a better way to help to keep that energy inside of your home.  You do not have to replace the entire door and you don’t have to ruin your monogramed wedding towels that you received from your Aunt in New York.  Many doors these days have a spring loaded threshold.  Check if there are screws at the surface of your threshold.  If there are 3 or 4 screws along the surface of your threshold, you maybe able to rise it up to your weatherstripping on your door to help solve the problem.  If you cant raise it and/or you raise the threshold, but the weather stripping is just too old and worn out, you can replace that too.  I recommend buying whats called a triple fan sweep for your weather stripping.  You can buy new weather stripping at most hardware stores and installation takes no more than 10 minutes.  Replacing that weather stripping will save your money, add to your homes comfort and save those beautiful towels that you loved enough to stuff at the front of a door.

  1. Have you had water damage or insect damage in the past?

If you have water damage, you know that the wood has to be replaced.  Most people with this problem know that if the wood is breaking apart and soft, its not secure enough to support the door structure or to keep your home safe.  Obviously, you must replace your entry door if this is a problem you’ve had.  The same thing applies with insect damage.  If your exterminator told you that about 50% of the woods structure is compromised, your R-Value (energy efficiency through solid objects) has been significantly diminished.  Not only is your home easier to break into, but you’re also inviting more pathways for water or insects to future damage your entry way and you are wasting your heating and cooling.  Loss of R-Value is significant when it comes to a door because that is your thermal barrier (unless your door is made entirely of glass).  Replacement is a must in this situation.

  1. Do people compliment you on your retro door when that’s not the look you’re going for at all?

When it comes to your door, the aesthetics are extremely important.  Realtor.com and Remodeling Magazine both say that beyond your roof and landscaping, the front door is the first thing that prospective buyers either compliment or hate when they’re showing a home.  Lets face it, styles change dramatically every 10-20 years, if not sooner.  A lot of us cannot believe we used to wear the clothes we wore when looking through our high school yearbooks.  Sometimes the dramatic approach we took with our Aquanet up-dos’ and overalls with a strap unhooked is identical to the dramatic approach people took with their homes.  Front doors seem to take the most abuse when referring to our dramatic style choices.  There is a good reason why too.  The front door sets the tone for the entire experience of the home.  One could say that it’s a persons first impression of a home.  If you have classic shakes/wood siding, beautiful true grids on your windows, classic landscaping all around, it’s probably time to get rid of that 3 diagonal glass flat 1970’s door. Replacing your front door can be one of the biggest bang-for-your-buck investments that you can buy to improve your home.   You can increase your energy-efficiency while adding dramatic beauty to your curb appeal.  If you’re wondering if today is the day to replace your entry door, ask yourself the questions above.  If you decide it’s time to replace your front door, we can help. Contact us today 978-304-0495 for help determining the best front entry door for your home. Like always, it’s your number one investment, take care of your home with a beautiful, quality front entry way.

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