Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More pre-winter fixing

One of the great advantages of shouse living is the 8x16 foot garage door.  We have stunning views, beautiful sunsets and al fresco dining all summer.  The downside of the garage door is that it is very difficult to insulate the gaping holes of a door not intended to be a functional part of a "real" house.

Every winter, I "dress" the garage door in heavy drapes topped off with a super thick velvet swag.  It keeps some of the biting cold weather out, but truthfully, most of the sub-zero temperatures find their way around my best insulating efforts.

This year, I came up with the brilliant idea of making "door snakes" for the top and the bottom of the garage door.  I decided to make four of them, rather than two, because I thought two eight foot snakes would be rather unwieldy.

I had quite a bit of left over canvas painters drop cloth from the ceiling project upstairs, so I used it to form the casing of the snakes.  I cut four lengths about 8.5 feet long by 5 inches wide.  After cutting, I folded the fabric in half, length wise, sewed the bottom and up one long side and turned the "tube" inside out.  Using a canning funnel, we filled each 8 foot long snake with rice, folded the open end over twice and stitched the opening closed.

Cutting the fabric

Sewing up the side

Turning inside out

Filling with rice

New snakes on the top of our door

At the bottom of the door

When Miss Calamity and I climbed up to put the snakes in place on top of the garage door, I was shocked to find that there was an almost 2 1/2 inch gap at the top of our door!  It was huge!  No wonder we were always cold!

Already, the difference is tremendous.  So many times, it is the littlest things that make the biggest difference.  We often think that doing big things like putting in low e windows or getting a more energy efficient furnace will be the hot ticket, but in reality, it is often the tried and true methods of keeping out the weather that make the real difference.  Hanging insulated curtains, putting in weather stripping, installing storm doors and windows - and yes, making door snakes, will ensure that "old man winter" doesn't get the best of you.


  1. I really love your posts like this, so much that I read it over several times. You are the quintessential American rural woman. Your joyful can-do attitude is a pleasure to behold and is an inspiration to those of us who tend to fall into the tar-pits of self-pity and sloth. Most of all, it is a testimony to your faith. Keep on, my sister in Christ!

  2. This is fantastic - thank you! Our apartment has very drafty doors/windows, and I've been trying to think of ways to minimize heat loss. I'm totally going to copy this! :0)


    Simplicity is a concept too often overlooked or ignored by people today, yet it is simplicity that saves us time, money, and trouble.

    By the way, how is Master Hand Grenade's toe doing?

    NoCal Gal

  4. I had to chuckle over your choice of filler for your snakes. Only a good prepper would have enough rice around to fill 16 feet of tubing!

  5. NoGal Gal;

    I will update on Master Hand Grenade's toe on Thursday. He is due for a dressing change (I might even get pictures!). Other than hobbling a bit, you wouldn't even know that he had surgery.


  6. Enola Gay, so glad Master Hand Grenade is doing well. He's a very fine young man.

    As for pictures, they would be interesting.

    Thanks for the pre-update info.

    NoCal Gal

  7. Great fix for the problem. Here's hoping the mice don't start snacking on the "snakes" What a turn-a-round from the usual.
    Donna B.

  8. great idea...just a thought : might try stuffing insulation in that 2" gap first then put your snakes over the top. The insulation can be removed in the summer when you wish to use the door and put back the following fall. May just help cut down the cold some more.


  9. Oh, you should have filled those snakes with sawdust and sand and saved the rice! I have them for every leaky door and window sill, but I call them draft dodgers.

  10. Re: Anonymous 11:01 a.m.:

    Finally, a good use for a draft dodger!

    Also, I, too, wonder if the mice will see the door snakes as a great smorgasbord.


  11. I am ALL about plugging up the holes LOL!

    Last winter I put a blanket up on the frame that went to our mudroom. I didn't want a door (no where to swing it), but within 30 minutes of hanging the blanket it was noticably warmer in the house.

    You could also get some thick plastic and attach it around the entire perimeter of the garage door with tape (cut to a 12"-18" width) as an additional layer. The ugliness would all be covered by your snakes and drapery. The more layers, the better!

    In Florida we never had to "prepare" like this LOL! (I grew up in FL.) Now that I'm in New England, I'm feeling a little in touch with the women from centuries past.

  12. mice, moisture, and humidity can wreak havoc with your "snakes"...so keep a watchful eye out..another idea you might consider using are those "noodles" that the kids like to use at the swimming pool... also, a really handy thing to use to keep your snakes in place is velcro strips which can be bought at the fabric stores by the yard...some are sew in and some are glue-type.

  13. Thank you to everyone who has added their two cents worth! I had thought of the mouse problem, however, two murderous felines share our home with us and I think that the snakes would prove a smorgasbord for the cats rather than the mice! Yes, moisture could be a problem, however, our door has a large sunroom that extends 10 feet in front of our door. I don't think that moisture will be a problem! Thanks again, guys.

    Enola Gay