Fixing Home Air Leaks Around Cold Cellar Door – 1

The past few weeks has seen us attempt to seal air leaks in our home which were uncovered during the recent home energy audit.

This included:

Today we take a look at a very common place for air leaks in the basement of homes, specifically around the door between the cold cellar and the rest of the basement.

In the past I had thought that having a door sweep at the bottom of the door was sufficient to prevent the cold outside air within the basement cold cellar from entering the house.

Wrong. I was so wrong.

Then I added weather stripping to the door frame as one should for any door leading to the outside.

All of these combined money saving tips and energy conservation tips which we acted upon were still not enough.

During the blower test of our second energy audit this past winter I learned about all the open areas inside the door frame which allowed the cold air to enter our house.

To identify the problem, let’s start with the door itself. You can see in the picture below the door sweep at the bottom.

cold cellar door Fixing Home Air Leaks Around Cold Cellar Door   1

Next, here is the door opened to the cold cellar. Notice the weather stripping on the side and on top of the door frame. They are pretty cheap, easy to install and can be picked up at any hardware store.

cold cellar door frame weather stripping Fixing Home Air Leaks Around Cold Cellar Door   1

However, what is inside the door frame that the weather stripping is on? In our case, nothing but air.

It had never occurred to me to actually look to see that there was some type of insulation there. During the previously mentioned blower test I could feel the cold air from the outside coming into the basement from both sides and the top of the door frame.

cold cellar air leaks 008 Fixing Home Air Leaks Around Cold Cellar Door   1

Above is a picture of the one side of the door frame where I am trying to show you the air space both within the door frame itself as well as between the door frame and the concrete foundation wall on the right.

cold cellar air leaks 006 Fixing Home Air Leaks Around Cold Cellar Door   1

And this last picture above is of the door frame. Again, I’m trying to visually show you the space between the top of the cold cellar door frame and the foundational horizontal support beam.

However, in both cases it is not a lot of space. I could, I suppose try to push pink fibreglass insulation into the space. However, they don’t sell single fibreglass bats; you have to buy lots of them at a time. And, it is a pretty narrow area.

To see the solution I used for this area, simply select this link to Part 2.

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  1. Vasile says:


    In fact, at least Home Depot sells smaller pieces of fiberglass. I don’t remember if it’s a single batt or even less, but I used once a small package. However, fiberglass is not good at all to stop air infiltration. Instead, you should use low-expansion foam (specially formulated for doors and windows)or backing rod + caulking.


  2. Dan says:

    Hi Vasile,

    What is a ‘backing rod’? If it is what I think it might be, I believev I have need for it in another area of the home which I hope to get to during the year end holidays.


  3. Vasile says:

    You could use only caulk to seal the gap, but if the crack is over 1/4″ the caulk will not stay in place enough to cure.

    Now I’ve searched and the proper name is “backer rod”. Search Google Images to see pictures. It is a round foam bar, usually 1/2″ to 1″ in diameter (although you can find even larger sizes) and in different lengths. I bought it in 10 ft packages. You just push it into the gap, to fill it (get the right size, a little bigger than the gap), and then cover tho whole thing with caulk. The caulk will stick to the rod’s surface and to the side wall/door/etc and will create the air barrier. The rods are available at all home improvement stores, search in the weatherstripping department.


  4. Dan says:

    Thanks, Vasile.


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