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bud16415 03-11-2014 09:14 AM

Deep Frost Caused a Headache!
I had an ongoing problem all winter and as most of you know this winter may well have been one of the coldest on record for the little town we moved into. I will try and explain whatís going on and even though Iím pretty sure I know the proper fix I donít know if I want to put that kind of work into this repair and wondering if there is any work around to it.

The house we bought less than a year ago had a few changes made by the previous owner and most of them were not too good and had to be redone. The houses main entrance is thru the kitchen and the house way back had an entry closed in unheated mini porch / mud room and then a coming into the house a storm door and entry door. Many homes have these around here to break the weather and a place to leave muddy boots etc. His wife was ill and a wheelchair ramp was added and at that time he removed the entry door and storm door and sealed up this porch and put a new exterior door into the porch with a new storm door. Steel door and painted aluminum storm. And changed the cold room into a heated area to the extent the heat from the kitchen goes out there. The porch didnít have a continuous foundation it sat on piers made from blocks and I assume footings below. It looked like this had been working for them for a number of years but was still unfinished and an eyesore coming into the house. The skirting closing it in to the ground was made from vinyl and done by whoever sided the house and looked ok. I got in under the porch and saw he had insulated the floor with about 8 inches of foam. I figured I was ok with this structurally even though I wouldnít have built it like this. I finished the wiring and added a small replacement window in the one wall finished the walls and added to the floor to make it level with the kitchen and then when I did the kitchen floor I ran it out into the mud room. It looked very finished and makes an attractive entry to the house.

As the weather grew colder I found the little room stayed nice and warm even the floor without heat below was ok. The problems happened when we started getting the deep freeze and the deep frost. I first noticed the new weather stripping sticking and I ended up taking some of it off. Then I noticed the dead bolt not wanting to find the socket. Then the door bolt was missing the striker plate and again the door was rubbing hard on the adjustable threshold. I adjusted that and the striker plate and was fine again for a few weeks. Then the door rub came back and the plate was missing again once again I fixed it this time with taking a die grinder to the striker plate. I found 3 cracks in the drywall that were allowing the movement.

With asking around I found out this winter the frost was at a depth of 4 foot something that hasnít happened around here in maybe 100 years and it has caused a lot of similar problems for neighbors. The porch is set into a corner of the house and the three corners that are against the main house stayed good but the one away from the house the frost pushed up maybe a quarter of an inch.

Iím pretty sure the best fix is to brace things up and dig it all out deeper pour a good footing and build a good wall to hold this porch thing. Or better yet rip the whole thing off. (What I should have done before finishing it.) the third choice would be to support that one corner and take that one pier out and go deeper and build it back up. I really donít feel like doing any of those things and I had plans of replacing that door anyway come spring as itís kind of a cheap door and I could repurpose it in the garage. So if I can live with this little movement if it ever freezes this deep again.

Is there any way to mount a door so that it can float in the rough opening and still seal out the weather?

Wuzzat? 03-11-2014 09:43 AM


Originally Posted by bud16415 (Post 101583)
it can float in the rough opening and still seal out the weather?[/FONT][/SIZE]

The door jamb needs to be surrounded by a flexible airtight membrane.
The stiffness/compliance of the membrane may have to be such that the door jamb will need to be reinforced so that it doesn't change shape due to the force exerted by the membrane.
The membrane material and cross-section will determine compliance.

Search on makers who would make such a U-shaped or S-shaped membrane. The membrane compliance needs to be small enough so that people don't notice the door frame moving as they use the door. Ask how the compliance changes with temperature. They will ask you how much the door & frame weighs.

There are probably commercial uses for such a device.

Of course, the interior & outside walls need to have a sliding fit with the door jamb but that is also airtight. I'm thinking a much more compliant U-shaped membrane.

This project may be quite ambitious. If it works, make a YouTube video and sell access to it.

BTW, your small font is killing me.

bud16415 03-11-2014 10:24 AM

That was kind of what I was thinking. Basically taking a pre-hung door and building a stiffer frame around it and then having a rough in about .75 inch larger on both sides and the top. Fill that gap with some kind of foam and then have the door capped in with a trim that’s only nailed or screwed to the rough in. if the floor comes up on one side, the door will come up and not rack.

Small font sorry it makes my long rambles seem not so long. You can always hold the Ctrl key down and roll the mouse wheel over my post when I forget to post larger fonts.

Wuzzat? 03-11-2014 01:45 PM

The stiffer frame can be 4 pcs of 2x1 or 3x2 angle iron welded not bolted at all four corners and will prevent the rectangular jamb from becoming a parallelogram. Eight screws fasten the jamb to the narrower edge of the angles.
This frame will only minimally prevent twisting of the jamb but that may not be a problem.

bud16415 03-11-2014 03:35 PM

Maybe just a new door with a steel frame.

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nealtw 03-11-2014 04:34 PM

From my house. it is pretty easy to say it. Dig it out and then it will be done for good. What is the standard depth for footing where you are, they are usually 1 ft deeper than ever needed.

bud16415 03-12-2014 05:56 AM

I normally hear frost depth around here is 36 inches max and it’s pretty common to see people go 48 inches as the standard rule of thumb on footings. If I had to guess I would say mine is down to that 48 inch depth but I don’t know for sure. To complicate things the gutter was left just hanging on that corner by the people that built the wheel chair ramp so that area had been quite wet for a few years. Last fall I reconnected that back up and away from the house so the water issue is solved for now. The wheel chair ramp didn’t move as far as I can see over the winter and it’s built like a pole barn. There is one pole close to the corner of the mud room and that pole could be allowing water down beside it.

This winter has been something else in terms of bitter cold and those couple weeks where we saw negative 20 F at night and nothing in plus numbers during the day really pounded the frost in. the side road beside our house has broken up 100% into baseball size chunks the combination of plowing the snow off and pouring the salt to it turned it back to a gravel road for all practical purposes.

I know what I should do and go deeper with the footing. I could also build up the grade on that corner at least a foot and improve drainage in the process. Might be easier to add a foot of dirt rather than go a foot deeper. I hate to put in a new door and take the chance of racking it next winter.

nealtw 03-12-2014 07:10 AM

It shouldn't matter how wet it is, it is just a matter of depth and back filling it should work.

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