Weather Tight Case Study: Uncovering Hidden Issues with a Patio Door

Here at Weather Tight, we’re proud to work with our friends, family, and neighbors here in Wisconsin. We understand the unique needs of our area (and weather systems) and work to ensure that every product and installation meets those needs.

Because of Wisconsin’s often moisture-heavy climate, we can face some unique issues in our home construction that can go undetected for years. One example is wood rot. Here’s what happens when a Weather Tight installation uncovers hidden issues in a home.

Image shows a woman wearing a light gray house robe and dark gray sweatpants stands just outside her patio door on a wooden deck on a cold winder morning. There's a wooden table and chairs, and a snow covered railing.

A Typical Patio Door Installation

Patio door installations are something we often do. Unfortunately, sliding doors installed in homes in the 1980s and beyond were often subpar. Homebuilders used lower quality materials, resulting in 10, 20, and 30-year-old doors that are a constant hassle for the homeowner.

We’ve all wrestled with this type of door at some point. It comes off the tracks; the screen seems flimsy and rickety. More importantly, the door seems insecure and unsafe.

Often these sliding patio doors don’t close tightly, either. As a result, they are drafty in the winter and can leak during wet weather. Try as they might, homeowners often find themselves at war with their sliding door.

Such was the case with a homeowner in Brookfield, WI. They had a home built in the early 1990s with a typical sliding patio door. Although the door that opened to their deck had once been a nice feature of the house, allowing airflow in the summer and nice bright light, it had now become a hassle.

Not only did the door look dated, but it came off the track, making it hard to open and close. The screen was bent, and the small lock on the door was tenuous and unreliable. Paul and LeeAnn, the homeowners, had taken to putting a wooden dowel in the track to keep the door closed securely at night. Even when their dog had to go out, they would walk him around to the garage door so they didn’t have to wrestle with the sliding patio door.

When our product expert met with the couple, they explained that they had moved the door to the bottom of their home improvement list several times, but this past winter, there were icicles inside their door frame! In addition, the paint around the door frame was peeling and cracked. Even though their TV and Paul’s favorite recliner were near the patio door, he often avoided relaxing there in cold weather because it was so drafty and cold.

The homeowners agreed that the time had come to replace their old sliding door and invest in a door that better fit their needs, and they decided to move forward with Weather Tight.

Uncovering a Hidden Problem

When our installers arrived to put in the new patio door for LeeAnn and Paul, they removed the old door and surrounding trim. At Weather Tight, when we do installations, we typically recommend completely removing the old product. This means full-frame and door replacements—taking out the trim as well. We do the same with siding, removing the old siding or trim before updating it.

Some people might wonder why we do this when installing right over the top of existing construction would be faster and easier. The truth is that it’s the right way to install replacement products. Removing the old components allows us to see what’s going on underneath. We can identify any issues and ensure that nothing is happening that might void the warranty on your new product. It also makes sure that we are starting from scratch rather than putting a band-aid over any issues you may have. In the long run, it’s the best option for protecting your investment.

When we removed the trim around Paul and LeeAnn’s patio, we found that water had seeped in around the old, leaky sliding door. Even though it appeared dry and hard on the surface, the wood beneath the trim was spongy and soft—a sure sign of wood rot. Where there is moisture, there also tend to be bugs, as they like cool, damp places to call home—especially in warmer months.

Even though the homeowners weren’t happy about the discovery, they were glad they could address the problem rather than installing the door on top of rotting, mildewed wood. We worked with them to fix the situation, which included adding a new frame and insulation and fixing a gutter above the patio door.

Once the new door was installed, with a fresh new frame, Paul and LeeAnn could immediately see a huge difference.

“The door opens so easily, but it locks securely. There’s no wrestling with the screen to get in and out,” Paul reported.

LeeAnn added, “Better still, we don’t have to go out to the garage every time the dog needs to go outside! I don’t know why we waited so long to fix this door.”

What’s more, Paul and LeeAnn could use their TV room again, even in the winter, because there was no drafty door letting in the cold (and no icicles inside the house). They reported a big difference in their comfort levels and even their heating bill. The energy savings will continue into the summer months as well when no cold air will be leaking out through the patio door.

Setting Each Installation Up for Success

At Weather Tight, we view our customer relationships as long-term. We know that it’s essential to ensure that our customers are completely satisfied and happy with the installation process and the lasting results.

Of course, no one wants to discover an issue like wood rot or mildew in their home. We also know that many homeowners are on a tight budget and may be concerned about the costs surrounding a bigger issue. But we encourage customers to address these issues when they’re discovered because doing an installation the right way protects their investment and home.

When we take the proper steps to ensure an installation is done thoroughly and completely, we know that it protects the product warranty in the future. We also know that it will result in fewer issues down the road and help you feel happier about the overall outcome.

In the case of Paul and LeeAnn, they wondered why they waited so long to do something that made such a big difference in their lives. A patio door might seem like a minor update, but now they can easily use their back door, entertain without worries, and let their dog out. In addition, they can enjoy the room without drafts.

The best type of exterior home update is one that you don’t have to think about later. If your patio door, windows, siding, or roof keeps you up at night, it’s time to discover the difference an exterior update can make for your home. Don’t wait! Contact Weather Tight today, or stop into our West Allis showroom to see a wide selection of door and window products.