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Secure Storm Doors

Q – I want to lower my air-conditioning costs with natural ventilation and also lower my heating bills, so I am considering a screen/storm door. I want more security too. What door-design features should I look for?-Bob D. 

A – Adding a good-quality screen/storm door can be a year-round money saver and improve your comfort. It will provide the natural ventilation that you want in the summer and less heat loss and drafts through your primary door in the winter. 

  A storm door can also dramatically increase the life of your primary door. This is especially true of north- and south-facing doors that are made of wood. Generally north-facing doors receive the full force of winter winds, and south-facing doors receive the constant beating of the sun that is lower in the sky during the winter.

  The most secure doors are often more break-in resistant than your primary door. For example, some decorative ones use elegant wrought iron or aluminum channels, bank vault-like deadbolt pins, nonreversible screws, heavy-duty keyed locks, and nonremovable-pin hinges. You can even select stainless steel screening that is extremely difficult to break through. Nearly every town has one or two small local companies that produce screen/storm doors. To get the best warranties, some as long as a lifetime, it is often best to select one of the major national manufacturers’ doors. 

  Most home center stores and building supply outlets carry both the cheaper and high-quality national brands. If you are really concerned about the appearance of your house, the high-quality “Select” product line allows you to mix and match options to create your own door (up to 500 different styles) and take it home that day. 

  If you are planning to do the installation yourself to save some money, definitely spend a little more on the screen/storm door for better quality. There is nothing more difficult and frustrating than to try to install a cheap, flimsy screen/storm door. 

  Your primary selection decision should be the style of screen/storm door that will look best in your home and provide the ventilation you seek. These include full-view, high- or low-view, self-storing, and triple-track, plus many combinations of these. In some self-storing doors, like Store-In-Door, the glass panels can be moved and hidden inside the lower solid door section. 

  Triple-track doors are probably the most convenient for year-round energy efficiency. The opening in the door has three separate tracks-one for each of two half-height glass panels and a third one for the screen panel. You can position all three panels independently in any location for maximum ventilation flexibility. 

  For example, if you have a dog or cat, you can position the screen on the outdoor side of the glass panels for scratch protection. For the most effective and secure summer ventilation, adjust the two glass panels to leave small gaps at the top and bottom of the door. This creates a natural airflow circulation of cool air in the bottom and warm air out the top. 

  Most residential screen/storm doors are made of hollow aluminum or plastic skins or solid wood. The hollow ones with foam insulation core are the most efficient and the foam supports the outer skins. This also increases rigidity, which is important for the weatherstripping to form long-lasting airtight seals. The Magna-Core product line also uses durable, refrigerator-type magnetic seals.

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