Thursday, December 11, 2003


Make sure sweep is right size for shoe
THE TOOL GUY Leon A. Frechette says rubber door sweep by itself is difficult to find.

Leon A. Frechette
Special to Voice

Q. Leon, I have a 36-inch aluminum storm/screen door. This summer the rubber weatherstrip on the bottom tore and came off. Now I have a door with lots of cold air coming in under it. I asked our local home center about a weatherstrip replacement, but they didn't have one.

Do you know where to buy a rubber weatherstrip, and can it be installed without removing the door? It appears there is a 3-inch aluminum cap on the bottom of the door attached with screws that the weathers
trip would slide into if the molding is removable. Thanks for your help.

-- Barry F., Spokane

A. Barry, you pose an interesting question. The 3-inch aluminum cap you refer to is called a "shoe" or "expander." On the bottom of the shoe is a track that the weatherstrip (or "rubber sweep") slides into. The shoe's "U" shape allows it to be lowered or raised on the bottom of the storm door so the tip of the rubber sweep just touches the entrance door's threshold.

The purpose of the sweep is to provide a windbreak. It is not designed to block out all the air; if it did, you would have a hard time closing the door because of the air trapped between the two doors.

Replacing the sweep is easy because the shoe is removable. Remove the shoe by propping open the door and unscrewing the screws that secure it to the storm door. Then pull the shoe downward while sliding it toward the handle side of the door.

There are roughly four or five rubber sweep designs on the market. The most common is the "T" or "ball" top. Unfortunately, rubber sweeps alone are hard to find.

Our local home centers sell a different product called a "door bottom sweep," essentially a neoprene sweep attached to an aluminum strip and available in different shapes and colors. The sweep is normally attached to the entrance door near the bottom of either side using wood screws. It could be used on either side of the storm door depending on how your storm door sits in relation to the threshold. However, you'll need to replace the wood screws with sheet metal screws. This is an alternative solution to the problem, but I would only consider it after you have exhausted all avenues to finding a sweep to fit your particular storm door's shoe.

After making a few calls, I found a company in town that specializes in surplus windows and doors and repairs, including service calls: Tormino's Sash & Glass Co. (534-0537). It sells the "T" or "ball" rubber sweeps for about 35 cents a foot. If the sweep doesn't fit your shoe, Tormino's also sells new shoes to fit the sweeps it carries. Stop in and see Matt, and don't forget to bring in this article along with the shoe and the rubber sweep from your door -- he's expecting you. Good luck!

Spokane resident Leon A. Frechette answers readers' questions every week in the Voice. Frechette has more than 20 years of experience in home remodeling, has written seven books, many magazine articles and owned a local remodeling company.

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