What's the best way to create a removable, reasonably air-tight seal in a large non-square space?
October 20, 2010 4:52 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to create a removable, reasonably air-tight seal in a large non-square space?

I am a renter of an old house and am trying to get rid of basement air leaks in advance of winter. For unrelated reasons the basement door and hinges are currently detached from their very out-of-square frame. I'd like to seal up this space as best I can with the caveat that whatever I do must not be permanent: we need regular basement access for laundry.

Rather than put the door back (and deal with several smaller gaps instead of one big one) my plan is to get a sheet of foam board insulation (like this), score the outline of the door frame and cut the insulation to size for a snug fit. I've got some strips of adhesive-backed foam insulation that can improve the seal. Some simple arched cabinet pulls could then be attached to act as handles.

Is my plan foolhardy? Is there a better approach? Thanks!
posted by JohnFredra to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
 
Your contraption would probably be sturdier if you affixed the insulation to a piece of thin plywood slightly larger than the door opening. (Perhaps you were already planning that, since I don't see how you would affix cabinet handles directly to foam board).
posted by drlith at 5:32 AM on October 20, 2010


Personally, I'd put the door back and add weatherstripping.

Really, I'd disassemble the door frame and re-hang the door without gaps, but that's probably not what you're aiming for

Sticking adhesive weatherstripping to a piece of foam board does not sound very workable for this situation; I don't think it would stay adhered for very long. I do think it would be possible to cut a piece of foam for a tight fit without additional weatherstripping, but you'd have to work carefully. What sort of saw do you have handy?

Handles could be attached by using fender washers on both sides of the foam to spread the load.
posted by jon1270 at 5:38 AM on October 20, 2010


How non-square is it, i.e. what are the gap depths? Have you looked at weatherstripping at all?

It's usually a foam that is adhesive on one side. The kind I got is about 1/4" thick, so when the door closes it'd block all the smaller gaps if they're of the appropriate scale. It's nonpermanent and really cheap.
posted by bookdragoness at 5:38 AM on October 20, 2010


Would a heavy curtain work? You could give it a fairly large overlap on both sides and at the bottom to minimise any draughts.
posted by lucidium at 6:26 AM on October 20, 2010


I'd put a heavy curtain on one side and a zipper door on the other. The curtain would give you some insulation and the zipper door should keep the draft out.
posted by advicepig at 6:34 AM on October 20, 2010


jon1270, I don't have any sort of finely-toothed saw, so my cuts will be rough at best. I was thinking the same thing for attaching the handles.

advicepig, I'm really intrigued by the zipper door idea. Perhaps a magnetic strip along the bottom would improve the air seal?
posted by JohnFredra at 6:57 AM on October 20, 2010


I don't have any sort of finely-toothed saw

I was picturing an interference fit anyhow, so you could cut it a skosh oversize and sand it (w/coarse paper and a block) to fit. That said, the zipper door sounds like a decent solution, too.

I still think you might be better off putting the old door back on, for the sake of durability and ease of frequent opening and closing.
posted by jon1270 at 7:04 AM on October 20, 2010


>> I still think you might be better off putting the old door back on, for the sake of durability and ease of frequent opening and closing.

I would tend to agree, but in this case the warped frame prevents the door from closing fully or easily. That is to say, it's not really a door anymore but rather a big piece of wood that slightly obscures an oddly-shaped hole in the wall. :) There are other considerations as well -- the hinge screw holes were long-ago stripped and the trim is kinda busted up -- that I don't have the expertise (or, as a renter, the incentive) to properly address.
posted by JohnFredra at 7:30 AM on October 20, 2010


For the bottom of the door get a draft stopper bag. They can easily be kicked away and back into place when it needs to be opened. Etsy has a lot of designs ready to be filled with beans or lentils. Easy to make as well if you sew.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 12:08 PM on October 21, 2010


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