This winter I’ve been trying extra hard to better weatherize my shop. Having thought I could do no more, a chance event helped me at least double the efficiency.

My shop, a converted two-garage, has weatherization issues just like all other garages. The main culprit is that 7×16-foot door, and because it must roll up and down freely, it’s difficult to get a perfect seal on a total 46′ of door edges. Cold air seeps in and warm air escapes (and the opposite in the summer) pretty much no matter what you do.

I addressed this with some toggle clamps along the door sides. They’re adjusted so that when engaged, they lightly press the door more securely into the seal around the door opening. Worked like a charm, and it cut the heat loss. It wasn’t perfect – I couldn’t do the toggle-clamp trick on the top edge, as they’d block it from opening – but they sure helped.

But this winter was a struggle to establish and maintain a comfortable working temperature in the shop. I was pretty much resigned to the fact that this would be the best I could do, and just be happy for the improvement, but last night a chance occurrence came to my rescue.

I was wrapping up for the night, and flicked out the shop lights at the exact moment I heard my wife’s car pull into the driveway. And at that moment, I saw streaks of light – a lot of it – coming in at numerous spots around the door. It all quickly disappeared as she shut off her headlights, but gave me a great idea.

With the headlights back on, back in the shop I marked around the door with a pencil every spot that light was streaming in. After that, it was just a half hour or so with a caulk gun to seal every one of those spots. Turns out that most of my air leakage was in the 2×4 doorframe, but once caulked I could immediately tell the difference.

Too bad I didn’t discover this earlier, but this means that I’m not only all set for next winter, but I can probably expect the shop to remain a bit cooler this summer as well.



  • Dan Levin says:

    In October, 2000, I bought a property in Deep River, CT, which consisted of a four-bedroom house and a one-hundred-plus-year-old barn which had no heat or air conditioning. My first task was renting a 30 cubic yard dumpster, so I could clean out the junk that filled the building. Then, I had to plug all the air leaks in the building and then I very thoroughly insulated the building, and then I installed lights and outlets, etc. but there were still air leaks. Being that there was no heat, I hired a local company to install oil heat and central air conditioning. That all went well, but I had constant problems with the oil, turning to jelly in the very cold winter, because it had to be in an external tank. I’m no longer on that property, but I learned my lesson with the oil problems, and I will NEVER rely upon oil again. If I ever get into that situation again, I’ll certainly rely upon natural gas or propane for my heating and cooling needs.

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