Window and Door TLC for a Better Home
I recently toured some Open Houses in the Vancouver, Burnaby, and Coquitlam area and one of the features that always catches my eyes are the windows and doors. Largely because doors and windows are often the entry point for intruders and the outside environment. So here are some basic tips and tricks to maintain your windows and door for optimal performance and security regardless of the season.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to call/text me at 604-363-2760 or email me at email@example.com. Or just drop by our Downtown Vancouver Key Store located in Gastown at 555 W Hastings St. It is located next to the BC Liquor Store at the SFU/Harbour Centre.
We will never be the cheapest locksmith in Vancouver, but we stand by the quality of our work with the best locksmith warranty from Vancouver to Port Coquitlam.
Tip #1: Ensure proper alignment of doors and windows
Nothing is annoying to me as a door or a window that is hard to open or close, especially if it’s an opening you use frequently. Plus, if it is hard to open or close, sometimes you are not sure if it is locked correctly.
For doors, there should be a visible ⅛” gap between the door and the frame on all four sides. If the gap is than ⅛”, then the door is most likely rubbing on the frame at one or more points. If the gap is more than ⅛”, the door may not lock properly and/or may be drafty. This gap can be measured easily with a tape measure.
If you read one of our articles on basic home tools, you can pick one up cheaply at the Home Depot Store located at 900 Terminal Ave in Vancouver or 1069 Nicola Drive in Port Coquitlam. If you don’t have a tape measure, two credit cards stacked together is about ⅛”.
This spacing should be fairly even around the edges of the door. Most often, doors will sag away from the hinges so the top corner of the door towards the frame starts dragging on the door frame. It will start as visible scratches on the door and door frame. Left untreated, the door will eventually become very difficult or impossible to use.
Without the specialized tools that a Professional Vancouver Locksmith like myself carry, there are options for the slightly adventurous DIY homeowner.
First, you can remove the top hinge and replace it with another. If the door sag is particularly pronounced, you may need to replace the middle hinge as well. It is very rare that replacing the bottom hinge will solve a sagging door problem. However, if you have already replaced two, you might as well replace all three for long term performance and overall aesthetics.
Second, you can close the door, remove the hinge pin, and “jack it” up to the proper gap. This can be easily done with the Air Jack that we mentioned in another article about essential tools for a homeowner. Once the door is where it should be, take a look at the hinges. You will probably see the hinge “ears” criss-crossing one another. Take a crescent wrench or pliers and bend back the frame side ears to match the door side ears. As a final step, drive the hinge pin back in.
The second option is definitely more economical as you do not require new hinges. However, by bending the metal parts we are adding to the metal fatigue. Sometimes it is simply a better choice to replace the hinges all at the same time.
For windows, there should be no visible gap between the window and window frame when closed. It should fit snugly into the enclosure. If it does not, then it’s either going to be either a really easy fix or a signal that it’s time for new windows. This is largely because there are many more types of windows than doors, and of different materials.
If your windows are difficult to open and close, I recommend first vacuuming the slide track and the window frame. Then apply a thin coat of silicone lubricant to the track and moving parts. If that doesn’t alleviate the problem, I normally suggest contacting a glazing company for help. Your windows will have little rollers or casement gears that need adjusting or some TLC. It’s better to leave it to the professionals at that point.
Tip #2: Eliminate Draft with DraftSeal
Ever felt your home is cold no matter how high you turn on the heating system. If you do, you may have a faulty heater or your windows and doors are allowing the warm air escape and the cold air in.
If your furnace or electric baseboards require maintenance, I suggest you do it soon before the first cold snap of the season. HVAC company schedules get very full during the winter months.
If you are not sure how much heat is being lost through the windows and doors, there are two basic ways to find out. Hold your bare hand about an inch away from the opening. If it feels a bit cold, it’s not a great sign but it shows the problem is probably easily fixable. If you feel cold air blowing in, you definitely have a problem. Turn off the lights on the inside and turn on the lights outside. Likewise, you can have someone shine a bright narrow light beam from the outside along the edges of the doors and windows or do this at night.
Ideally, you should see no light penetrating along the edges. If you do, it’s time for new DraftSeals or rubber gaskets. Whatever product you use, make sure it does not impede the proper operation of the windows and doors. Too often I see clients going overboard with the rubber or neoprene lining and make the windows and doors hard to open/close and lock/unlock.
These sealing products are also found easily at the Home Depot Stores at 900 Terminal Ave in Vancouver or 1069 Nicola Drive in Port Coquitlam. The Home Depot Store staff should be able to provide basic instructions on installation.
Tip #3: Consider Installing New Doors and Windows
With some of my clients, no matter what we do, the doors and windows are always troublesome. This is particularly prevalent with clients living in older homes. After a decade or so, a detached home, townhouse, or condominium building could settle in a way that makes doors and windows hard to use.
What was once a square opening can turn slightly trapezoidal which means no amount of adjustment is going to alleviate the stress points. The openings will never work smoothly.
The best thing in that situation would be to consider installing new doors and windows. When combined with the improved thermal resistance of newer doors and windows and resulting lower heating and cooling costs, this may prove to be cost effective.
Most of the time, you don’t need to replace all the openings all at once. Buildings never seem to settle equally across the entire building. So you can replace a door or a window on one spot then somewhere else down the road. Clients often combine these home improvements with the BC Hydro Programs and Incentives to subsidize costs by the way of rebates. Check out this link for more information: https://www.bchydro.com/powersmart/residential/rebates-programs.html
When replacing your windows and doors, you can either do it yourself or by hiring a professional contractor. Home Depot Stores like the ones at 900 Terminal Ave in Vancouver or 1069 Nicola Drive in Port Coquitlam carry a wide selection of windows and doors.
However, if you need a customized opening solution (i.e. your home is settling in a weird way), I suggest hiring a professional who can provide doors and windows tailored to your needs. If you call/text me at 604-363-2760 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I can connect you with our door team and also direct you to window professionals whom we trust. They have access to higher quality parts and materials not sold at your local Home Depot Store.
Protect your belongings and home with properly adjusted and fitted windows and doors. Not only will it make your home or office more comfortable to live and work in, it will also help to make it more secure. Plus, your locks will work properly and for longer.
Nothing degrades a lock faster than the constant stress from ill fitting doors and windows. The metal-on-wood and metal-on-metal grinding causes excess heat and stress points. This results in a black gunk that eventually jams mechanisms and causes premature failure.
Also did you know that most locks and door hardware have warranties that assume proper fitting and operating doors and windows? If the manufacturer feels that your door and windows cause the premature failure of the lock, they may void your warranty.
Not a big deal when you have cheap locks. However, if you live in a luxury condo in the Lower Mainland, it could be very painful to replace out of warranty and they are building a lot of luxury condos these days.
For all questions and comments, call/text me at 604-363-2760 or email me at email@example.com. Our Gastown Key Store is located at 555 W Hastings St at the SFU Harbour Centre. It is located on the bottom floor of the shopping mall next to the BC Liquor Store. We look forward to hearing from you!