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Sealing a drafty attic door with Spring Bronze

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Sealing a drafty attic door with Spring Bronze

Postby steponmebbbboom » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:33 pm

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These dusty striations in the door jamb point to large volumes of air (and money) escaping into the attic. The attic will be properly insulated and ventilated eventually, but sealing this frame with weatherstripping will definitely help keep drafts out of the hall.
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Corner treatment: Lay the top in first, then cut the end of the side strip at an angle to meet the top. Keep the strip far enough from the stop that it doesn't rub up against it. Then tack the nails in a little over an inch apart (I went with a spacing similar to the old spring-bronze I found in the front door frame.) Nails must be kept in the middle of the flat margin to keep the sprung profile of the strip to stay up. Contrary to popular belief, it is not at all necessary to pre-drill any holes in the strip or the doorframe, our ancestors certainly didn't do this. Ripping out remnants of the original spring-bronze on my front door frame and examining the nail holes seems to support this. Just keep the nails far enough apart and away from the reveal to avoid splitting the wood. Use nails of the proper size, made of copper, to avoid electrolytic corrosion.
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To make the strip hug the hinges, give them a tap at the top and bottom of the mortise. You can caulk behind the hinge to minimize air movement further.
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Better to cut a little long and lose a few inches here and there than to cut short and have to splice a piece in later.
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Test the fit of the installed stripping by laying in a piece of paper against the stop and shutting the door. You should feel some resistance as you pull it out.
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If the stripping isn't contacting the door, you can pry it back out with some pliers. Be careful not to make any creases that will allow air to escape.

Spring-bronze weatherstripping is difficult to source and very expensive nowadays, but before the second world war that's all there was. It is not the most effective in the short term, but will last a hundred years. All you're going to find in the big-box stores will be made of plastic and vinyl, which performs better in the short-term but will need replacing in a few short years. Who wants to do this over again so soon? The good stuff is hard to find, but so worth it. People forget that before the war, domestic life for the average person was very hard. Modern conveniences were very expensive and energy was neither cheap nor plentiful. Not only that, but before the postwar boom no one had any reason to think things were going to get any easier anytime soon. For these reasons, people tended to take the long view on things, and construct things in such a way that they would last as long as possible. This is one of the biggest reasons that prewar homes in original condition are so desirable, and that keeping them that way makes so much sense in the post-industrial age that awaits us.
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Re: Sealing a drafty attic door with Spring Bronze

Postby roush9799 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:09 pm

I've used some of the plastic stuff. I get a few years out of it before it either stays compressed, or falls off.
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Re: Sealing a drafty attic door with Spring Bronze

Postby McCall » Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:05 am

"Spring-bronze weatherstripping is difficult to source and very expensive nowadays, but before the second world war that's all there was. It is not the most effective in the short term, but will last a hundred years. All you're going to find in the big-box stores will be made of plastic and vinyl, which performs better in the short-term but will need replacing in a few short years. Who wants to do this over again so soon? The good stuff is hard to find, but so worth it. People forget that before the war, domestic life for the average person was very hard. Modern conveniences were very expensive and energy was neither cheap nor plentiful. Not only that, but before the postwar boom no one had any reason to think things were going to get any easier anytime soon. For these reasons, people tended to take the long view on things, and construct things in such a way that they would last as long as possible. This is one of the biggest reasons that prewar homes in original condition are so desirable, and that keeping them that way makes so much sense in the post-industrial age that awaits us.[/quote]


Not that hard to find. try Killianhardware.com for springbronze as well as other more obscure these days items.
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Re: Sealing a drafty attic door with Spring Bronze

Postby triguy128 » Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:36 pm

My local Ace hardware has spring bronze in rolls. Not sure why it's wouldn't exist. Maybe not as much in high volume big box stores. The wider stuff you'll have to do a web search on.

IT does wear out over tiem when used for example in a door jamb. I'd estimate hte matieral in a coupel of my doors that has worn away is abotu 30 years old. Still 10X longer than the stick-em vinyl stuff lasts.
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Re: Sealing a drafty attic door with Spring Bronze

Postby steponmebbbboom » Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:07 pm

McCall wrote:

Not that hard to find. try Killianhardware.com for springbronze as well as other more obscure these days items.


Thanks, I forgot to post my sources. http://www.vintagewoodworks.ca is the only source for spring bronze weatherstripping in Canada online or otherwise that I have found. A close friend of mine ordered several items from http://www.kilianhardware.com (with one "L") in the US, including a roll of spring bronze identical to mine, but got hit with delays and heavy brokerage fees to import it into Canada. No consumer-level hardware store in Canada sells it.

I understand that information will not apply to readers in the US, but nonetheless unless you already are aware of its existence and know to look for it you may never see it. I have not heard of anyone in the US carrying it on the shelf other than Ace Hardware, and it is a different product with thinner-gauge bronze and two or three progressive bends in its profile rather than one. Has anyone else seen this stuff in stores? It would be great to have a list.
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Re: Sealing a drafty attic door with Spring Bronze

Postby circuspeanut » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:30 pm

You can get V-Bronze from : http://www.randysurleymfg.com/weatherstripping.htm or at Killian Hardware.

You can get Spring Bronze at http://www.accurateweatherstrip.com/index.html in upstate NY (I think): tel. 800.536.6043 for orders. Also order Pemko Spring Bronze online at The Hardware Hut, http://www.thehardwarehut.com/catalog-product.php?p_ref=259998 or find Pemko on the web.

You can get plastic versions of the spring weatherstripping, vinyl bulbous versions that can be routered in to windows and doors, and the ever-wonderful 'mohair' pile weatherstripping (I swear by it, it makes double-hung window sash glide so nicely!) at Conservation Technology in Boston, http://www.conservationtechnology.com/building_weatherseals_components.html.

John Leeke of Historic Homeworks recommends AB Supply as another online weatherstripping source: http://absupply.net/weatherstripping-double-hung-windows.aspx.
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Re: Sealing a drafty attic door with Spring Bronze

Postby triguy128 » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:07 pm

Thsi thread is reminind me that next year might be a good time to start pulling a couple sashes each year ot get refurbished. I don't have the time ot do it myself, but I think there are a few custom window places regionally that do it. I can at least pull them out and reinstall them myself I think and repalce the sash cords. I have interlocking zinc or bronze strips on mine. I think I'll keep those at the meeting rail, but may use to mohair on the jambs.

I can tell which sashes leak the worst... partly form seals, and partly form glazing.... since now that it's cold, the upstairs windws that leak the worst have condensation inside hte storm window. Those that are still in good shape have none.

For downstairs, I might take my little IR thermometer and measure which windows are the coldest. Those being the ones that have the worst air leaks.
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