Prevent Storm-Door Heat Buildup
Tom Silva has some advice for preventing heat damage caused by glass storm doors to existing exterior doors
I’d like to install a storm door with low-e glass in my exposed, south-facing front entry to help keep out the cold during our harsh winters. But some door installers say my existing wood entry door would be ruined by heat buildup. I don’t want to replace the wood door. Do I have other options?
—Manette Huncker, Madison, WI
The warnings from the installers are right on the money: A south-facing storm door, with or without low-e glass, will trap a great deal of heat, particularly in the summer, and that’s not good for your wood door or its finish. And it’s not good for you when the door hardware gets too hot to touch. The U.S. Department of Energy goes so far as to say, “Never add a glass storm door if the exterior door gets more than a few hours of sun each day.”
That sounds pretty definitive, but you can get around those problems if you ventilate the space. For existing storm doors, I’ve drilled five 1⁄4-inch holes in a row into the top and bottom rails to help the heat escape. For you, the answer might be a storm door with a glass panel that can be lowered to let heat escape on sunny days, and raised at night or on cloudy days to keep heat in. Andersen’s 3000 and 2000 series storm doors come with that feature.
Shown: Tom Silva installs the glass panel in a storm door. For south-facing houses, he recommends doors that can be ventilated so that heat can escape.