Door Doldrums

The Therma Tru doors from Alpen are a remodeler’s nightmare. After the initial install, they didn’t work very well at all. They didn’t close correctly apparently due to being out of level and not plumb.

First Door Installers

First Door Installers

SOO the installers, the door assemblers, the window company rep and the sales rep got together to look at them and take pictures and say the installers needed to return and move the doors enough to be perfectly level and plumb. At first they said I should take out the doors and level the concrete sill first, but after I thought about that I decided that was crazy and that we could use shims, preferably fiberglass shims to make them level and then just foam any cracks. So the installers returned to level the doors but that took about a month for them to get another space in their schedule.

Front Door View

Front Door View

I also had them reframe the back door as it was framed in a crooked wall so that the door left over an inch of space between the sheathing and the brickmold which would have been almost impossible to seal and frame again. So that was done and I left town to visit my Mom for her birthday so we were again on hold for a couple of weeks.

I had several concerns about the door quality–for instance the bolt that holds the lockset is oversized and scrapes the strike plate.

Scraped strike plate

Scraped strike plate

Oversize door bolt

Apparent warp in door

We also had gaps in the insulation and one door came without insulation and one lockset was the wrong type. So there were several things to address. But Alpen doesn’t do warranty work until the bill is paid in full. Nice for them to have the negotiating all on their side.

The company rep was supposed to return to fix paint issues with the doors, one surface was rough and when that door seemed to be warped by about 1/8″ they suggested that first the installers come out again and re-level it–less than 1/8″ in 6′. So they did and I finally paid them the last of what I owed them as I didn’t really think it was an installation issue any more.

During this time we had an unusual amount of rainfall for Colorado. Something like 5 inches. I have to look up the exact amount but that is a lot of rain for here. So the re-painting was delayed and so was the re-level but eventually the installers stopped by to  re-level the warped door, but they could not get it to lock. Instead of Alpen returning to re- paint they convened another meeting.

Peeling paint on jamb

Peeling paint on jamb

Peeling paint on upper brickmold

Peeling paint on upper brickmold

Peeling paint on lower brickmold

Peeling paint on lower brickmold

This time the company rep had a more senior rep with him but the door assembler was not involved. They looked at the paint and it was obvious that the situation was much worse. The installers had mentioned that Alpen thought that perhaps the paint issues were caused by the install–perhaps banging on the doors incorrectly and chipping the paint. There is some evidence that paint is chipping where the installers may have tapped on the doors to align them, but there is other chipping that is at the bottom of the jambs and at the edges of the brickmold that are less likely to be installer caused. So overall, it seems to be an Alpen warranty issue.

But here comes the worst part. ThermaTru excludes the wood parts of their doors (pine or oak jambs, sills, brickmold) completely from their warranty and Alpen had a clause in their sales document that said that the doors have to be protected by an overhang for half of their width. WHAT? I had neglected to see this stipulation on the door order until AFTER I sent in the final order so I am out of luck there.

Alpen Door Warranty Exclusion

Alpen Door Warranty Exclusion

I was annoyed with the sales rep who told me the warranty was an issue for outswing doors. Apparently it is an issue for ANY of Alpen’s Therma Tru doors. The sales rep never mentioned this stipulation when I was deciding on doors and he knew I had no plans to cover the solar gain doors by a huge overhang. Why would I spend extra money to have Alpen sell me the doors with their special solar glass if I couldn’t use them for solar gain when they shade most of the fall and spring sun?

So I knew this clause was going to be a problem. They thought perhaps the wall needed to be sealed before the doors are re-painted and that means tearing off the rest of the siding and replacing some of the aging polyiso sheathing and using SIGA housewrap which the sales rep offered to me without charge I believe, and more of the tape and then re-siding and caulking the doors so moisture is not getting behind the brickmold. That seems reasonable and it has to be done anyway.

I also have to figure out how to install my solar shades which are still in the design stage and hope they will count as “overhang”. I asked the installers to send me another estimate to seal the front as I thought they would get to it before I would, but it has been a week and no estimate. I know they are busy with a big job in Golden though.

Delivery of the windows and doors was almost three months ago. So although I didn’t think we needed to prioritize the door issues I now think it will be another several months before they are finished and they will always suffer from exposure and for that they don’t have any warranty. They are WOOD moldings that should stand up just fine to weather if protected by paint and the fiberglass doors are supposed to be more durable than wood. They were not cheap doors; aren’t most exterior doors exposed to weather? I have to just chalk this up to a bad experience as I settled for these doors in the first place, knowing I wanted outswing french in the front room and in the master and got inswing and a single door instead. Now I really regret getting doors from a window company. It is just not their specialty.

It is disappointing, but to look at the overall picture–all is not lost. These doors should function very well, keeping the cold and heat out with their high R value and the low U value glass. They are really more energy efficient than any other door choice (except for outswings which have a lower air transmittance due to shutting against the wind) and were less expensive than some of the foreign brands that are available. I just have to look on the bright side.

Therma Tru Warranty

Alpen-HPP_Residential_Warranty-8-2014

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