4 - 2009

Weekend Winterizing Challenge: DIY Insulation For Mail Slot & Milk Door

We’ve come to the last week of our weekend winterizing challenge! For this week’s post, I dug deep into my home’s winterizing challenges to stop the chill breezes from blowing in our house.

The leaky mail slot

First, I took a good look at the area around my front door. We’ve already replaced the screen on the security door with the glass panel, which has a rubber strip around it. We’ve replaced the weather stripping around the front door itself, and thanks to Jennie’s post, we can add a draft dodger to block breezes from beneath the door. The large living room window is new this year, so it no longer ices over. That left just one source of drafts by the front door: our mail slot.

We don’t use the mail slot currently. Instead, we have a mailbox mounted outside. The empty mail chute is just a corridor bringing cold into our living room, especially given that the inside door hangs askew.

Fortunately, fixing the situation was simple. First, I grabbed a block of styrofoam from my recycling pile and cut it to fit the opening.

I checked to make sure it would fit in the slot opening, and then I coated the whole block with a layer of duct tape (to prevent the block disintegrating), and added a handle.

Then I popped it right into the mail slot and carefully put the door back in place. Drafts blocked! (I intended to also caulk around it, but I ran out of caulk. I’ll do this when I crack open the next tube of caulk.)

The sketchy milk door

Our home was built in 1950. Apparently, in those days, the modern housewife could enjoy the convenience of staggering into the kitchen in her bathrobe, popping open a little door, and finding the morning milk delivery at her fingertips! It’s a neat idea. Unfortunately, today, milk deliveries seem to arrive in a blue plastic cooler on the porch (and we don’t even receive them, because they don’t offer organic milk). That means that old houses like ours have a good-size hole in the wall, disguised as a milk box. For the four years we’ve lived here, mine has been filled with that worst of insulators, unmortared bricks:

Inspired by my success with the mail slot, I dug deeper in my styrofoam recycling bag and found some nice solid pieces and some softer pieces. I combined these into a milk-door-sized brick:

Then I encased the whole shebang in plastic bags and duct tape. I inserted it into the milk slot and fused it in place with a heaping helping of “Great Stuff” insulation.

It doesn’t look like any great shakes, but from the outside (yes, the door opens inside and outside, creating a hole right through the wall) the insulation bears a courteous message:

Even better than a delivery of milk, this insulation works. You can’t see it at all from inside when the metal door is shut. And in fact, the door is now warmer than the brick-and-plaster walls surrounding it.

What are you doing to winterize?

Our next step, hopefully to be completed this winter, is to install an energy-efficient dog door, which will involve Mr. Cheap rebuilding the back door to insulate it.

Have you taken any new steps to make your home or apartment more energy efficient this year?

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