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Door Knob Air Leak

Door Knob Air Leak - Look Above At Giant Gaps!

Eric Shimomura lives in Clayton, DE and has a door knob air leak on an exterior door. Here's his question:

"How do I prevent air leaks through the door knob?  It's not the door itself, just the door knob and dead bolt assemblies."

Here's my answer:

Eric, in all my years of answering questions, I've never had this one before!

Related Links

How to Replace a Door Knob - Easy As Pie

Air Leaks in Antique Door Hardware - WATCH THIS VIDEO!

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All Common Door Knobs Leak Some Air

Let me start by saying that most door knobs leak air. The moving parts of the knobs have tight tolerances, but not tight enough to be air or waterproof.

I'm going to assume the holes in the doors have been drilled correctly - meaning they're the right size so the hardware overlaps onto the door's surface.

I'm also going to assume the door knob and deadbolt locks are tight against the doors and there's no wobble. If there is wobble, watch the video above where I show how to tighten up a knob.

This means the air is just leaking through the mechanical parts and the tiny gaps in the metal.

Some inexpensive knob and lock hardware might not have the tighter tolerances that high-quality lock sets tend to have.

Electronic Lock Set

Here's a high-quality lock set that will leak very little air. Don't buy pieces of crap from the big box stores. CLICK THE IMAGE NOW to order this amazing lock set.

Parts Must Move Without Restrictions

It must be remembered that you can't add gaskets, insulation, etc. inside the working area of the lock sets because this would interfere with the movements.

I'd be sure the door knobs are tight to the door. If the hardware seems loose, then I can see why lots of air might be passing through.

If the hardware is tight, I can't think of any way to stop this minute amount of air that's passing through the door knobs.

Tackle Larger Air Leaks For Better ROI

My guess is you probably have other air leaks in and around your house that are allowing 100 to 1,000 times more air in. These are robbing you of energy dollars much more than the tiny amount of air a typical lockset might allow into your home.

I'd concentrate on those if I were you.

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6 Responses to Door Knob Air Leak

  1. Thanks for the reply. Here's a little more info. The house is about four years old (well respected local builder) and I'm actually working on some other solutions such as adding a storm door to the front door. We have lots of wind (land is flat with little wind breaks) directly on the front door and on the garage doors. The other doorknob with the draft is the interior door to the garage. The doorknob fittings are tight against the doors. Just to give you an idea of the wind force, during one wind gust (and it is rare that it was this strong) the wind creased the double graage door while closed. The crease actually caused the garage door to sag when it was open. I 'fixed' it by straightening the door and bracing it with aluminum trim channels.

    During the winter and especially the recent cold spell, the draft is likely small, although when I reach for the doorknob, the draft is definitely noticeable on my hand. The door itself has much less draft and I'm assuming the door seal is very good.

    Sounds like there's really nothing I can do to stop this.

    Let me know if you think adding some glass wool might help.

  2. Here's how I fixed my drafty door knob. It is a new Pella entrance handleset, and I had it installed with the door. I complained to Pella about the draft, and they sent a technician to my home, who agreed it was drafty, but could not offer a solution. I took the 2 interior screws off and could see daylight and feel cold air rushing through the openings. I cut a couple of pieces of foam pipe insulation and stuffed them below and above the mechanism. It minimized the cold air and it no longer feels as drafty.

  3. I am dismayed that the response was dismissive. I too have a huge amount of air coming through my knob on a new door and knob. Maybe manufacturers are skimping-anyway mine is whistling through the knobset which is Kwikset from Lowe's. Rather than be dismissed as not important and check other places I'd rather have seen a helpful answer.

    • Cindy,

      Why do you think my response was dismissive? I clearly explained that a properly functioning lockset only allows a tiny amount of air to pass through the drilled hole.

      You can't pack the lockset with insulation or it will malfunction.

      Perhaps you're expecting some magic solution that's just not possible. Sometimes my answers contain Tough Love. Unfortunately not everything having to do with home improvement is unicorns and rainbows.

  4. Hello from the Canadian prairies. Just thought you'd like to know that we routinely pack a bit of pink fiberglass insulation or some styrofoam insulation in the empty spaces inside the door handle mechanism. This prevents air leaks, and prevents condensation from building up and either freezing or rusting of the hardware when the warm air from inside the house meets the cold air from outside the house. It's a really easy fix, and it works!

  5. We just added a large arctic entry to the front of our home. Its a major fix, but as I'm a carpenter, it was simple. It is a true addition to the home, with fully insulated walls, floor and ceiling, and we can either leave it heated or unheated. It was not as major an undertaking as we expected, and has made a world of difference to our home's warmth. We were just bemoaning the fact that doors are all made at 2" thick instead of 4 or 6", though.

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