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Originally published December 12, 2008 at 2:00 PM | Page modified December 13, 2008 at 7:16 AM

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Weather stripping stops cold air at the door

How to tips for installing weather stripping to keep out the cold and seal in the heat. Plus, tips on avoiding frozen pipes.

Daily Press (Newport News, Va)

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Foam weather stripping goes just inside the jamb and is held in place by an adhesive backing.

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Rob Ostermaier/Newport News Daily Press/MCT

Foam weather stripping goes just inside the jamb and is held in place by an adhesive backing.

Prevent pipes from freezing

Preventing frozen pipes is much less expensive than the cure. Here are some easy tips for protecting water pipes:

Insulate pipes in unheated areas. Pipe sleeves, heat tape and thermostat-controlled heat cables can be use around exposed pipes.

Keep the water moving: To avoid frozen pipes, let water trickle overnight from indoor faucets served by exposed pipes.

Heat the house: Keep the heat set on at least 55 degrees. If your water pipes are not insulated, install pipe sleeves.

Check outside faucets: Outdoors, disconnect garden hoses. Drain and cover faucets.

Open sink cabinets: Open cupboard doors under sinks on outside walls so pipes are exposed to inside heat.

Repairs: If your pipes do freeze, it is best to call a licensed plumber. If you try to thaw the frozen pipe yourself, be sure to take the following precautions:

• Do not use an open flame. You risk setting the home on fire, and overheating one area can cause the pipe to burst.

• Place a warm towel or rag around the pipe.

• Shut off the water valve to the frozen pipe.

• Keep the faucet of the frozen pipe open so water can flow out as it melts.

• Make sure you know the location of your master shut-off valve. The frozen pipe may already be broken and, when the water is thawed, it will leak. In this case, you will need to shut off the water in your home until the leaky pipe is fixed.

Compiled by Seattle Times staff

Stop cold air from invading your warm house by sealing doorways with weather stripping and other insulation.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that plugging holes around doors, windows, pipes and ducts could save you as much as 10 percent on your heating bill.

We asked Cary Patrick of Patrick's Hardware in Hampton, Va., to show us how to stop doorway leaks with widely available products. Most of the products can be found for about $2-$15. Patrick has plenty of experience to share. He's been selling hardware in Hampton for more than 30 years. Here are his tips:

Use jamb-up weather stripping on wooden, exterior doors. The pieces — a rubber bead mounted on a metal strip — are to be installed on the two sides and top of the door frame where the door and frame meet. Install it with screws or nails, the top piece first, then the legs. Cut it to length using snips or a hacksaw. Pieces should be attached so the rubber side just meets the door, Patrick said. Too tight a seal will prevent the door from closing correctly.

Install a sweep on the bottom of exterior doors. A door sweep — a metal plate fitted with a rubber or silicone lip — is intended to be mounted to the face of the door at the bottom. Used in conjunction with the aforementioned three pieces of weather stripping, a sweep completes the seal around the door. Again, Patrick recommends that the sweep be installed so the rubber meets the floor, but isn't pushed up against it. It should stop drafts, but not impede the door from opening and closing.

Tighten the seal with self-adhesive weather stripping. Foam strips with adhesive backing on one side can be used to fill dead air space between the door and the frame. Use it just inside the jamb, where the door and the jamb meet. Patrick said this type of weather stripping should only be applied in relatively warm temperatures. "In cold air, the adhesive doesn't stick as well," he warned.

On metal doors, check rubber gaskets, replace if necessary. Many modern, manufactured doors come with weather stripping already attached. But rubber gaskets can fail over time. Replacements can be found at hardware or home improvement stores.

Test your seal. One simple way to see if you've successfully tightened your doorway is to use your eyes. If daylight can been seen peeking around the edges of the door, you've missed a spot. You can also use incense to check for drafts.

Move beyond the doorway. Once you've tightened exterior doors, attack leaks elsewhere. Seal older, double-hung windows with caulk or self-adhesive weather stripping. Cover troublesome windows with an insulator kit. The kits include a clear film that is sealed to the window with heat from a hair dryer. Elsewhere, use caulk to fill cracks between baseboards and hardwood flooring.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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