Good day everyone,

While performing an audit and blower door test, we came across a french door (pics attached) that, of course, was hemorrhaging air. The homeowner also complained about insects getting in around the door (surprising, of course).

We think we can air seal the perimeter with good weatherstripping, but are at a total loss for what to do where the doors come together. Both sides are operational and used. The doors are fiberglass, so adding weatherstripping between them is not practical. We thought about using some v-stripping on both sides, but then we run into the same problem of how to attach it since adhesive would wear out and screws are impractical.

As you can see in the photos, the homeowner used foam tape, but the gap is simply too big and the adhesive not strong enough to handle the sheer forces of the doors opening and closing.

Any advice would be quite welcome.

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It looks like the dor is a bit cammed. Close at he top and spread at the bottom. The door itself looks as if it needs to be realigned from the photo. It is always hard to tell the exactly from a photo.

I got to agree with Gallo, fix the fit first & then make sure the secondary door locks work properly / not to much slop & then fix the weather stripping with the type that is meant for that door

It looks like the door frame was not properly aligned during installation. I just replaced my old slider doors with french doors a couple months ago. I had the opposite problem. My doors would not shut. Fortunately, I had a construction guru installing my doors and he did some tweaking on the outer door frame to get it just right. I would have the homeowner contact the construction company that installed the door to reorient the frame properly. If the homeowner installed the door, I would recommend two options. 1) Hire an experienced construction company to correctly orient the door frame, or 2) Try using wood shims to the outer lower edges of the the door frame to force it towards the center. Either way the door frame will need to be re-caulked for air sealing. Hope that helps and good luck. No one wants air or bugs pouring in.

Energy Info

Looks like a low end french door from a big box store.  Upgrade to a better door, Andersen, Marvin, etc

quality of the door does not matter with poor installation.

First I would test the hinges to make sure the are all screwed in and not loose I would make sure the stop on the non operable side is aligned correctly  and determine if any gains are made by adjusting. my guess from the photo no but process of elimination and ease of repair dictate I try these two first.

 Using a level I would determine which side is my biggest problem left right top or bottom

If it is the top I would guess a nail or screw pulling it up in the middle I would remove molding and cut the screw or nail (possible and best case as it is easy but not at all likely as it should be cammed the other way)

If it is the bottom it would be sagging in the middle and I would shim it up (not likely at all but always worth looking)

 If left or right I would try adjusting the hinges and or shimming from the inside before going for major surgery.  one.door is most likely worse than the other which can be seen by using a level. I would adjust and observe.(probable)

If all of the above fails to yield results I would pull it out and make sure the doors themselves were not altered square it up pin  with some 1x2 and and assess opening make adjustments if needed reinstall ( oh shoot man what did I get myself into I should have gone T&M on this baby)

My guess is the doors can be saved. They can be a pain to adjust and nothing beats a clean install

While I would agree that a top of the line Mavin or Andersen is better on many levels it is not in everyone's budget. I think a big box door is fine when installed correctly

In Colorado that door would last 2 years.  It has no way to prevent the UV from damaging the weather seal at the meeting stile of the active/passive door. Agreed budget is big factor for most homeowners.  The particular door in the pic can be reinstalled P/L/S, but that is a bandaid.  Hinge adjustments could tighten it down perhaps, but just based on the pics I would not let my customers live with it.  Just my two cents.  Good discussion though!

I hate French doors- they are almost always leakers. Over 95% of the time only the active door gets used.  So, I recommend people take them out and put in a good quality door with one or two side-lights. If they need a larger opening I tell them to put in a 3'6" door. 

As is stated above, a good seal starts with a good installation, but even that can go bad. Around here we have clay soil and in my own backyard I've had cracks open up 2"x12" deep. Lots of older homes existing foundations can't handle that an they shift and move. Single doors have a much better chance of maintain their seal then the French. 

Another option to consider is adding an astragal.  This is a molding fastened to the outside edge of the passive door, lapping over the active door.  Run weather stripping on the inside face that contacts the active door.  This will solve both the air leakage and insect problems without having to re-hang or replace the doors.

Learn to take better pictures. Use the flash more often and focus!

Without being there and with a couple of out of focus and poorly lit photos, everyone would be taking a guess at a solution. I need to "read" the entire door before making adjustments, because there are many different tweaks that could be done, but usually when you change one thing, you affect something else.

If the door is a name brand, consider contacting their tech support. Sometimes even the best doors have missing parts or other problems. In my experience, Marvin tech support is great and Andersen is OK..

Brush weatherstrip, have used Sealeze brand on such doors, as noted, may need astragal. Brush w/s good for irregular / un-aligned openings; choice of plastic or aluminum extrusion, color & brush length.


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