In past blog posts, we’ve taken a close look at interior and garage doors. Today, we open up a conversation about some of the issues home inspectors find when examining and operating exterior doors—a critical checkup in terms of safety, comfort, and energy efficiency.
As with our recent discussion of inspecting windows, exterior doors can become easy victims of harsh weather, poor installation practices, and frequent use that puts extreme pressure on their components. Precision is the keyword when it comes to putting in a hinged or sliding glass door. When anything less than exact measurements has been made and the wrong materials have been chosen for the job, it will become readily apparent to an inspector that substandard work and poor decision-making may be at the root of door difficulties.
Here is a checklist of common exterior door problems the inspectors at A-Pro have reported on over the last 27 years:
Trouble at the Bottom: Inspecting the threshold—the strip of wood or metal installed at the bottom of an exterior door frame—can tell you a lot about whether the door is performing its intended job. A missing threshold will leave a gap at the bottom of the door, allowing bugs, moisture, and outside air to creep in, and conditioned air to escape. It’s no secret that a drafty door can lead to higher utility bills. If a threshold has been installed, as it should be, the inspector will check to see if it is sloped properly to direct water away from the door. Water collecting on a threshold can lead to wood rot at the base of the door and jamb. The sheer amount of foot traffic in and out of a house can cause a threshold to significantly deteriorate over time. In this case, replacement may be recommended. The inspector will also report on bowed, loose, or non-level thresholds that warrant repairs.
A door sweep may also be installed to seal gaps between the bottom of the door and the threshold. Damage to the sweep will be noted by the inspector, as well as any signs of wood decay to the door or jamb, impact damage, damp carpeting or warped floorboards on the other side of the door, and high moisture readings that indicate rain and melted snow are making their way inside. Further, the inspector will point out the lack of weather-stripping needed to keep the door sufficiently sealed.
Surface Issues: Obvious problems such as holes in a wood surface or openings caused by rust on a metal door (particularly at the corners) will also be highlighted, as these defects will make the home vulnerable to moisture intrusion. If the door has window(s), the inspector will check to make sure there is proper sealing around the glass. Cracks in wood doors will allow moisture to enter, leading to potential warping. The door jamb will be checked for visible damage and wood rot.
Operating the Door: Does the door open and close without problems? Does it bind in the jamb or drag? A stubborn door will be indicated by the inspector, who will investigate further to find the source of the problem. Hinges will be inspected to see if they are exterior-rated types (NRP) made from corrosion-resistant brass or stainless steel rather than ones designated for interior use. Not only are NRP hinges manufactured for weathering the elements, but they are equipped with pins that cannot be removed when the door is closed, eliminating the risk of would-be intruders removing the door. The inspector will note likely installation issues such as doors that do not appear straight when closed.
Locks: All handles/knobs, locking systems, and deadbolts will be inspected and tested to see if they are functioning properly. The inspector will try the key in the lock to determine it if turns smoothly. A hard-to-turn key may be an indication of a door that is misaligned, sagging, warped, or has swelled due to humidity. Possible solutions include adjusting the strike plate on the door jamb or simple lubrication.
Sliding Glass Doors: The inspector will report on damage to the glass, rips, and holes in the insect screen, rotting wood framing, malfunctioning locks, and track damage, such as bends and breaks that prevent the door or screen from sliding smoothly.