If you have a dog at home, you need to be ready for the colder months. Because once that winter air hits, cold air will start entering your home through the pet door. But do you know how to winterize and insulate dog doors?
Dog doors that aren’t well-insulated can leave your house exposed to wet weather and cold drafts. These can lead to an increase in your heating bills. So to avoid it, your ideal option is to winterize your dog door.
Here we will give you a step-by-step guide on how to effectively winterize and insulate your dog door. Plus, we will also provide a few extra tips for your needs. Let’s get started!
Here are the following items you’ll need to start winterizing and insulating the dog door:
- Warm water & vinegar mix or Dawn dish soap
- Painter’s Tape
- Weather Strips
- Silicone sealant
- Silicone Caulk
Once you’ve gathered all the necessary tools, you can start focusing on winterizing your pet door. Here are the steps to follow to successfully do this:
Step1. Clean the Dog Door
The first and most important thing to do is to thoroughly clean your dog door. With continuous use, there’s a big chance that lots of dirt, debris, and mud will accumulate. And since your pup goes in and out of the yard, you can just imagine how much muck has been collected.
While this is to be expected, it’s essential to regularly clean the door using a mild cleaning solution. Remember, dirt and grime build-up will not only make it more challenging to see wear and tear, but it can also break the air-tight lock that keeps the flap energy efficient. To prevent this, you need to regularly clean your dog door’s flap, frame, and tracks.
To clean it, combine warm water and vinegar. This solution not only cleans the dog door but also repels ticks and fleas that could live in your dog’s house during winter. Use a cloth for scrubbing the flaps and frame.
Pro Tip: Make sure to use white vinegar for the solution since it’s excellent for killing mold and bacteria. It’s also more effective when repelling ticks and fleas.
If you aren’t fond of how vinegar smells, you can use Dawn dish soap with warm water for cleaning. Make a soapy solution and scrub thoroughly like how it’s done in the video below.
Step2. Check Your Flaps
Aside from cleaning the dog door, you’ll also need to check the flaps, especially if they’re older ones. These can be physically intact but may not be sealed properly. It also goes for extreme-weather pet doors or all-weather pet doors.
With that, it’s better to regularly check for gaps forming along the edges to avoid cold air from entering your home. And remember, any light passing through the flap will translate to heat leaving your house.
You might possibly have to upgrade your dog flap. And one with effective weather protection typically has the following:
- Magnets to seal the door shut against winds
- A dual-flap system for keeping cold air out
- Water-proof material such as plastic/rubber
- Sturdy materials which allow it to close securely
If the flap on your dog door doesn’t sport these, then we suggest an upgrade to keep the winter cold out.
Step3. Spot Unnecessary Leaks
If you have a sliding door, you’ll need to run your fingers on its frame and the edges of the dog door. When you feel a change/draft in the air temperature, mark the area with painter’s tape.
When you don’t have painter’s tape, you can light a candle and move it around the frame. If the flame changes direction or if it flickers, there’s likely a leak.
Pro Tip: To ensure accuracy, switch off your AC during the inspection. This will prevent the flame from flickering unnecessarily, and will only shift when there’s a leak.
Step4. See if the Dog Door Requires Weather Stripping Replacement
Sometimes, the flaps are good, but not its weather stripping. If you have older panels, or if the draft stoppers/weather stripping receives lots of direct sunlight, frequent replacements are necessary. One way to determine this is by feeling along the gaps for cold and drafts.
To solve this, a quick yet temporary draft fix is magnetic weather stripping. But based on experience, dogs can easily rip the magnets off when using the door, unlike the classic, stick-on weather stripping.
Remember, excellent weather stripping keeps the dog door shut whenever your pups aren’t using it. That means it can effectively retain the warm air inside your house.
Pro Tip: To keep things on the budget, you can seal any leaks with the help of silicone sealants. Simply follow the instructions on the product tube, then use a line of this sealant along the pet door’s frame.
Additionally, if you have a pet door that’s installed on your wall, we suggest using silicone caulk. It will help seal holes between the frame and the wall/door to block cold air from entering your house.
Step5. Check the Alignment
When your sliding door is crooked in its tracks, or when the dog flap doesn’t hang straight across the space, hot air escapes. If you’ve just gotten a new house, make sure to check all doors, including the sliding ones, to ensure proper installation. Make sure the dog doors’ edges and corners are uniform and straight.
Step6. Determine if You Need to Upgrade/Change Your Dog Door
If you’ve followed the previous steps and still can’t winterize and insulate the dog door, an upgrade is definitely needed.
If you used your pet door for more than 10 years, its technology likely made lots of leaps and bounds. And we’re talking in terms of insulation and energy efficiency.
Living in places with harsh winters or colder climates will require anyone to have dual flaps or more insulated ones. These will help keep the needed warmth inside your home.
Pro Tip: If you’re going for an upgrade, that’s great! But if the brand you’re getting is different from what you were using, make sure there are no size discrepancies.
Before looking at dog doors, we suggest you first measure the current dog door. Then as much as possible, try to find a new door that has the closest size to the original.
If you think you’ve found the perfect dog door for your home but realize the size difference, don’t worry. You’re not out of luck.
What you can do is expand the size of the door hole if the dog door is bigger. If it’s smaller than the original, you can easily fill the gaps with extra pieces of wood.
1. Dog Door Maintenance
Like most things, dog doors also require maintenance, which you should do once a month. It’s to ensure that it’s free of any debris or damage. It’s also best to know the different parts of the dog door and understand their functions to make maintenance easier. Make sure to follow these steps:
- Clean the dirt off the pet door. As we mentioned above, mix white vinegar and water or Dawn dish soap, then scrub the flaps with a piece of cloth
- Inspect the pet door for damage and if you see tears on the flap, replace it
- Check the magnetic strip for debris that prevents the flap from closing properly
- Ensure that your door is properly sealed. If you see any issues on this like wind coming through, adjust the flap. Do all necessary repairs and replacements to keep your dog door properly maintained
2. Tips for a Burglar-proof Dog Door
A lot of people wonder if dog doors are a security risk. Generally, they aren’t since these are too small for a person to fit through.
Although some are large, dog doors have a provided locking cover that you can use at night or when leaving the house. This will effectively block unwanted access.
Here are other numerous ways to ensure the security of your home and dog door:
- If it’s your first time installing a dog door, get the right size
- Invest in a more secure dog door and locking mechanism. Some have a 4-digit combination lock and use 12-gauge steel, making them sturdier. These secure dog doors also have bolts that can’t be removed from outside, so potential intruders can’t break-in
- Consider automatic or electronic dog doors. These only operate for pets via collar keys, RFID chips, and other individually identifiable methods
- Install the dog door in a discreet location, and ensure that strangers won’t easily see it
- When you’re away from home, always use and enforce your locking mechanism to keep everything safe and secure.
Dog doors are excellent for dog owners who often go out or have a backyard/patio. It will make your furry best friend happy since they can run around the backyard even when you’re not around. Fortunately, you can winterize and insulate your dog door so they can still go in and out of the house during winter.
To winterize and insulate your dog door, just remember the following steps:
- Before you do anything, clean the dog door
- Check the flaps for gaps forming along the edges
- See if there are leaks in your dog door
- If the flaps are in good condition, check their weather stripping and replace them if necessary
If you’re unable to winterize your dog door, it’s probably time for you to replace or upgrade to a new one. Also, always remember to maintain your dog door regularly to last longer.
If you have extra questions about winterizing and insulating your dog door, feel free to pop in your questions in the comment section!