Sunday, January 19, 2014

Mr. Fixit's Swing-Up Garage Door Draft Stopper

(by Mr. Fixit)

In the 1950`s there was a building boom of bungalows with garages which used swing-up one piece metal garage doors. These doors were made by companies like Sunshine Products and were heavy stamped metal with a galvanized coating. They were usually 6 1/2 feet tall by 8 feet wide. If installed properly the massive coil springs provided a counterbalance which allowed opening and closing with very little effort. The swing-up design left a large 1 1/2 inch gap at the bottom, to be filled by a rubber doorsweep which would disintegrate and allow rain, snow, rodents and leaves to fly in to the garage.

I own a house from this era (hundreds like it in every town) and like to use my garage as a workshop, but find it chilly and hard to heat in the winter and very recently a heavy rain from one of these 100 year storms that we get every month now came in and flooded my workshop. I found a weatherstripping kit but despite every effort at adjustment could not get a good seal because of uneven concrete. Not wanting to be flooded out again, I wanted a better solution than a completely new garage door which would be an expensive custom installation due to the odd height and track configuration.
Speaking with a friend who has many years of experience at living frugally with simple solutions from easy to find materials, and who also has a swing-up garage door with the same problem, it was suggested to make a draft stopper using a 2x4 with some old rags wrapped around it to block the elements. Then I had an old memory from 40 years ago of my grandfather using the board and rag trick just before a thunderstorm on his swing-up garage door!
I had a piece of 2x2 spruce leftover from a project, which I cut to 8`4``, wrapped with fiberglass pipe insulation, and taped to the board with plastic packing tape for a smooth but comforming and insulating surface. I also used a piece of pipe strapping which hooks onto the garage door frame which in effect locks the garage door to the door frame as an added security measure. These doors had locks when new, but over the years keys disappear and locks break, leaving the garage an easy access for intruders.

I can remove the draft stopper in 15 seconds and use the door then seal it up again just as quickly. I can`t see any daylight under the door like before and snow isn`t swirling in every time the winter wind blows. The total cost is $2.49 for a 2x2 or 2x4, $4.99 for a roll of fiberglass pipe insulation, and a 99 cent roll of packing tape. Total time to make and adjust: about 45 minutes.

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