Solutions for a Cold Foyer
LESLIE: David in Iowa is dealing with a chilly situation. What’s going on over there?
DAVID: Well, I’ve got a laminate floor at the base of my front entry door. It gets extremely cold and we did have a bad cold spell but it’s cold all the way through the winter months and cold to the point that, in some instances, when we run our humidifier, I actually get frost down at the base of the door and at the laminate floor area.
TOM: What kind of floor is under this? Is this a basement? Is there an area that you can insulate between the floor joists?
DAVID: There is a floor. There is a basement under it, yes, and it has insulation put all around at the plates up around – you know, above the foundation. It’s been all insulated there. It seems like it’s coming in more …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, do you have insulation – do you have insulation in between the floor joists?
TOM: Across the whole foyer area?
DAVID: Yes, there is.
TOM: OK. Is the door tight? Are you getting any air infiltration at the sweep; at the sill; the bottom of the door?
DAVID: (overlapping voices) No, I am not.
TOM: You are not. OK.
DAVID: So, it seems to be – the worst areas are on each side of the front door where the lights are.
TOM: Right. Because that’s the least insulated area.
TOM: So, you know, there’s only a couple of things you can do here and you’ve done most of them. If the door is that poorly insulated that it’s letting that kind of cold temperature in, the only thing you can do is add more heat to overcome it. Now, I don’t know if that’s the smartest thing for you to do because it’s kind of like throwing good money after bad, but if you wanted to add more heat – and one of the things that we could recommend would be an electric radiant system that goes under the laminate floor and that would keep that nice and …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And will keep that nice and warm.
TOM: Nice and toasty and warm and you can run it on a thermostat so it only comes on when it’s super cold out. But the problem here is that you’re getting too much cold air into the front of the house; you don’t have enough heat to overwhelm it, to warm it back up, and that’s why you have this really cold floor.
TOM: The other thing that you might want to try is just putting down a throw rug there so you don’t have to expose your feet to it.
TOM: And if you’re really feeling cold air come through those sidelights on either side of the door, what if you added just a heavy drape for the winter months?
DAVID: Well, it’s where the sidelight – not where the window area is but below the actual window area. It’s right at the base of the floor. It’s almost like there’s a cold breeze coming underneath there and I’m wondering if maybe they missed putting insulation or sealing that area where those lights went in next to the front door.
TOM: Well, can you see underneath that area?
DAVID: No, because the …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Why don’t you do this? Pull the insulation out and look at the box beam and the floor joist and that whole area there. You may notice some gaps where air is coming in. If you see gaps, squirt some insulating foam sealant – expandable foam sealant – in that area. That’s a really good area for an expandable foam sealant. Seal all of those gaps up; put the insulation back. If that doesn’t work, you need a new door. Your door is just not doing the job and that’s the only thing that’s going to really, really make you comfortable here.
David, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.