A basement door generally does not require much maintenance, but there are some simple measures homeowners can take to help extend its life.
Several times a year, a visual inspection will give clues if a door needs to be replaced or repaired. T. Wolf, who owns and operates T. Wolf Home Improvements in Hazlet, N.J., said rain and/or debris entering the bulkhead is an indication a new door might be needed.
“The door frame will rot out quickly because the water sits, evaporates into the airspace, or gets wicked up the door jambs,’’ said Wolf, who has installed basement doors manufactured by The BILCO Company for nearly 30 years. “The biggest problem is when people ignore these entryways. Allowing moisture into the bulkhead causes the door frame to rot and can lead to mold propagation. That’s the biggest problem in not addressing the issue in the early stages.”
Wolf said homeowners also need to inspect the rain gutter, or channel, at the crosshead of the housing. It can become clogged with yard debris, such as twigs, leaves or landscaping material blown by wind and rain. “If people allow the buildup to occur in that gutter when a severe rainstorm occurs the water rides up over the debris and into the stairwell,’’ Wolf said.
The other critical action item for homeowners is the frequent opening of the door. Opening the door allows for ventilation and reduces moisture, and lets homeowners clean the areas of bugs and spiders. Homeowners should also look for potential damage from harsh winter elements.
“Opening up the doors and allowing the accumulating moisture in the stairwell to evaporate is critical for the durability and longevity of any bulkhead entry system,’’ Wolf said. “Bugs, spiders and other insects need to be cleaned out. If the door systems are regularly opened, the insects tend not to congregate in the well. Failure to allow for moisture evaporation and opening the doors on the BILCO systems causes premature paint and metal decay.”
BILCO has served the building industry since 1926 and continues to be the leaders in the design and manufacturing of specialty access products. Its basement doors are made of steel or polyethylene and include a primer or powder coat finish. It also manufactures a door specifically designed for sloped sidewalls. Its basement door line includes a precast concrete stairwell. The PermEntry® Basement Entrance is the fastest and most economical way to add convenient, direct basement access to any home, and is ideal for new home construction.
Wolf said proper installation of the door system is also important in extending the longevity of the product. A door that is improperly installed can distort the housing and compromise the function of the door leafs. “It will not close properly when shut or can catch the reciprocating door when opened,’’ he said. “That leads to issues with bugs, moisture, water, paint failure and eventually, rust taking over the system.”
Like every other part of the home, regular inspection and maintenance can help homeowners keep their doors functioning as designed for years. “Generally, basement systems are not a primary entry point and people forget about them until the furnace needs to be repaired,’’ Wolf said. “Something as simple as opening the doors, even if it’s just for a few hours on a warm, sunny day, can go a long way toward helping your door stay in good working order.”