I have a problem with the seals in my new front door and am getting nowhere with the distributor

January 2014

Question

A few weeks ago, I purchased a new front door together with two side panels from a very reputable Irish distributor of Danish-made windows and doors. They also fitted the door. Even though the door was expensive, I chose it for its argon gas-filled double glazed units and low U value. It came with a 10-year warranty. The door has two rubber seals acting as draught excluders, an inner grey one on the lip of the door which seals against the frame when the door is closed and is effective, and a black seal protruding from all sides of the door which seals the gap between the door and the frame when the door is shut.

The problem is that the black seal is too small and does not seal the gap completely. I reported this immediately after the door was fitted and the service company came out to adjust the door but the gap still remained. I contacted the company again and they said the manufacturer confirmed that they did not have a bigger seal. Then they found a “bigger” seal and fitted it but the gap is still the same. After complaining again, I have just received a snotty email basically telling me where to go. What is my best course of action?

Answer

Unfortunately, you have not stated the type of the door, ie whether it is timber-, uPVC- or aluminium-framed, as this could have a slight bearing on the situation. However, notwithstanding the above, doors of this nature, including the side panels, are normally made in factory-controlled conditions which theoretically allows for a high quality construction/assembly process. The fact the product has a 10 year warranty puts you in a very strong position.

The issue that you have pointed out relates to a gap between a black rubber seal and the frame. You need to establish the purpose of the rubber seal and its primary function. While one would expect that there should be no gap here, the rubber seal may have a different function, for example, a buffer to prevent the door clashing off the frame or to facilitate expansion/ contraction with, say, a timber-framed door due to weather variations, and accepting that the inner seal is primarily responsible for forming a draught and weather seal.

If the rubber seal is not providing the function that it is intended for, then I believe the supplier will be responsible for rectifying the situation which may actually involve having to replace the door.

The email you received is certainly not the response I would expect from a reputable company. I would suggest you contact the window supplier and ask them to clarify the purpose of the various seals and confirm that the seals have been correctly installed and that they are providing their intended function.

If they cannot do this, they should be asked to make amendments in order to be able to sign off on their product.

Val O’Brien sits on the building surveying professional group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.