Dear Jim: I do projects in my garage, which has a bedroom above it. The old metal garage door is leaky and has no insulation, so I should replace it with an efficient one. What type of garage door is best?
-- Stephen K.
Dear Stephen: You definitely need to make some efficiency improvements to the garage door. This is both for your comfort when working on your projects and for the energy losses from the bedroom floor above it. If the builder installed such an inefficient garage door, the bedroom floor is probably not well insulated either.
Before you invest in a new efficient garage door, inspect your existing door. If it is in good shape and there are no drafts coming from the joints between the panels, consider installing a garage door insulation kit. This provides an insulation value of R-8, but it will not seal up leaks through the joints.
Owens-Corning (www.owenscorning.com) makes an easy-to-install kit. It includes vinyl-backed fiberglass insulation batts, retaining clips and tape. Cut the batts to fit the door panels. Stick tape on two spots on each panel. Stick the retaining clips on the tape and push the insulation over them. A top clip snaps over each clip to hold the insulation in place.
If you end up deciding a new garage door is needed, there are several basic options. The most common materials are wood, insulated steel, insulated fiberglass, and aluminum/glass. Of these, the insulated steel or fiberglass offer the best efficiency. Many insulated steel doors are "wind-rated" for severe weather areas.
If you definitely prefer the appearance of wood, but want higher efficiency, select a clad insulated steel garage door. Clopay has developed a method to attach a one-half inch-thick polymer coating on the exterior steel skin. It has authentic wood grain molded into the surface so it looks identical to real stained wood. Another option is an embossed simulated wood finish.
A very popular garage door style today is a simulated swing-open carriage type. It still rolls up like a typical panel door, but from the street it appears that it would swing open. These attractive doors typically have some type of decorative glass for aesthetics and for light in the garage.
An insulated steel door is probably the least expensive design to meet your efficiency and comfort needs. Clopay's door panels have insulation values as high as R-19. The foam inside the door can be either glued-in rigid polystyrene or blown-in urethane foam. Urethane foam has a higher insulation level, but either should be satisfactory.
When choosing a steel door, look for one with a thermal break between the outdoor and indoor skins. This is not a factor on a fiberglass door. If you have children, look for pinch-resistance panels. These are designed to push a finger out of the panel joints as the door closes. If you want glass in the door, make sure it is at least double-pane, insulated glass or low-E for better efficiency.
The following companies offer efficient garage doors: Amarr Garage Doors, (800) 503-3667, www.amarr.com; Clopay, (800) 225-6729, www.clopaydoor.com; Overhead Door, (800) 929-1277, www.overheaddoor.com; Raynor Garage Doors, (800) 472-9667; www.raynor.com; and Wayne-Dalton, (800) 827-3667, www.wayne-dalton.com.
Dear Jim: The duct from the bathroom vent fans runs into the attic. When it is cold outdoors, water drips down off of the grill on to the tile floor. What can I do to fix this? -- Megan S.
Dear Megan: It sounds as if your attic floor is well insulated and properly ventilated so the attic stays cold. Since most bathroom vents use a metal duct, the duct also gets cold. This causes the moisture to condense and it runs down and drips out the grill.
Run the fan a little longer after you shower so it clears the moisture-laden air out of the duct before it condenses. The ultimate fix is to extend the duct so it vents outdoors.
Send inquiries to James Dulley, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.