Ice forms inside of storm door

Q.    I purchased a storm door and had it professionally installed last summer. My problem is on snowy or frigid days, a sheet of ice forms on the inside of the storm door. I looked at the neighbors storm doors and no one else has this problem. Also, on occasion there is condensation on the inside of the storm door that I dry with paper towels. Would you have any suggestions?

A.    The problem you have is usually caused by the storm door being tighter than the primary door. You should allow some air leakage around the storm door by adjusting the bottom weatherstripping. Or you could increase the weatherstripping of the primary door.

Frost on patio door

Q.    I installed a new Marvin French patio door in late summer. This is their Ultrex product with wood on the interior. In the fall, I began experiencing condensation on the outside of the stationary panel first thing in the morning. Doesn’t seem to be an issue with the operating side.

I have contacted Marvin customer service and was told this is not a defect but simply a result of the climate change from summer to fall and it should go away when the real cold weather arrives. I would appreciate your opinion on this issue.

A.    As cooler fall weather arrives, it is common to experience condensation on the outside of insulated glass in the morning because the air is very humid. Later on–as you have probably noticed by now — the much colder air of winter is drier and the glass is warmed by the heat in the house. This prevents condensation. You do not see it on the operating panel because you may have the screen in front of it — it provides some insulation.

Refinishing or replacing basement hatch door

Q.    I have been an avid reader for many years. Now I need your sage wisdom regarding my heavy-gauge steel Bilco basement door, size O, which was installed in 1972. While it is still working well and water-tight, I have had problems with the paint peeling and flaking off with resultant rusting.

It has been sanded and repainted from time to time over the years but I am concerned that the rust has compromised its integrity.

I would like to know if a non-rusting replacement is made, or if you know of any other recourse I may have to solve this problem.

A.    Unless the rust is so advanced that you can poke a hole through the metal, all loose particles can be removed with a steel brush. Once there is only a small residue, wash it off with paint thinner and apply a rust-inhibiting paint such as Derusto or Rust-Oleum. Another choice is Hammerite paint, which you can buy through Amazon. It is a very long-lasting and tenacious paint, excellent for metals.

Bilco does make a high density polyethylene maintenance-free replacement door.

Painting might damage vinyl window frame

Q.    I own a small condominium and, per regulations and rules, it is my responsibility to replace, at my expense, from a vendor selected by the board of directors, windows and one sliding glass door. The door has been installed but is the wrong exterior color, and I have been told that the exterior frame needs to be painted. This would also include the screen door frame. Can one paint these frames without compromising the integrity of the seal (lifetime warranty), and prevent continued maintenance? What would you recommend as the best course of action?

A.    Vinyl can sometimes be painted but it is risky. It is best for you to contact the manufacturer of the door and ask for their advice. Often, painting a white vinyl frame a darker color can cause the vinyl to become distorted.

Screens inside of sliding doors make no sense

Q.    Last spring, we bought a 1960s ranch house. It has Pella windows and a very large 4-panel Pella sliding glass door. What surprises us is that the screens are inside! That makes no sense to us since when we keep the doors open to take advantage of the night summer breezes, bugs collect on the screens. When we are ready to go to bed and want to close the doors for the night, all the bugs get in the house! Who ever thought up something so stupid?

A.    I couldn’t agree with you more! Years ago, when I was active in construction and such doors came on the market in the late ’50s or early ’60s, I called the manufacturer of one particular make to ask that very question. I was given the lamest reason I can think of and, if this is true, I think the architects responsible need to have their heads examined.

The reason given me was pressure from architects who didn’t like to see screens from the outside. It ruined the looks of the houses!

Considering my high regards for the many architects I have worked with in my 50 years in the construction industry and their role in making our lives more beautiful, I prefer to believe in the other reason I heard: When the wind blows, it forces the sliding panels together, making the doors’ weatherstripping tighter. That says something about the manufacture of the doors themselves, though, as very good manufacturers of windows and doors have a very tight weatherstripping system that does not need the wind to help.

The bugs-in-the-house problem is why I have always tried to dissuade my clients from using doors having an interior screen.

Interior doors swing open

Q.    I live in a townhouse that was built about 15 years ago and I am experiencing problems with the wooden doors to the upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms. For some reason, most of the doors (but not all) on the second level want to swing open about halfway.

This means I have to prop them fully open and move the doorstop each time I want to close them. Can you give me any ideas on how to fix this problem? Thank you for your consideration.

A.    This problem usually indicates that the hinge side of the jamb may not be perfectly plumb in one or both directions. When doors swing open, it means that

(a) the top part of the hinge side of the jamb is leaning in the direction of the door swing, or else;

(b) that it is leaning away from the door opening. If a door swings closed, the opposite is the case.

It does not take much to cause this annoyance. In the case of (a), the top hinge needs to be cut farther into the width of the jamb or the bottom hinge brought out.

In the case of (b), the top hinge can be backed by pieces of cardboard or the bottom hinge cut deeper into the thickness of the jamb.