So Much Depends Upon the Serial Number

You’ll probably think I’m nuts and you’d be right, but a problem with ordering a replacement part for something from Pella Windows and Doors Company made me think of William Carlos Williams’ poem “The Red Wheelbarrow.” The poem is in the public domain because it was published before 1927, so I guess that means I can include it in this post:

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends


a red wheel


glazed with rain


beside the white


–William Carlos Williams

I’m not a poetry scholar and I have no idea what this poem written by a doctor means. One writer says that it’s probably impossible to get its meaning because it’s part of a much longer book-length work, “Spring and All” and the poem was split out of its context.

My connecting it to the Pella company has nothing to do with “Spring and All” or chickens or red wheelbarrows. It has to do with trying to order a replacement weather stripping part for a Pella door depending on having the right serial number.

It’s a bottom of door seal, made by Pella specifically for a specific Pella door on a house we moved into a couple of years ago and which was built over a decade ago. We have the size and type of the door, and the size and other important dimensions of the weather seal, which required us to take the door off the hinges in order to remove the old one and install the new one—if we can get one.

It’s a special type of bottom of door seal, which you can’t just run over to Lowes or Menards to pick up. In fact, they’ll tell you that you have to buy it direct from the Pella company.

It’s a peculiar looking seal. It fits into kerfs on the bottom of the door. I didn’t even know what a kerf was until we had to get a replacement bottom of the door weather seal. It’s just a slot into which some other piece fits into. There are two raised barbs or blades which fit into slots along the bottom of the door. The blades have to be exactly 5/8 inch apart and they run the length of the seal.

It’s called either a kerf seal or a drive-on door bottom seal, I guess because you drive it into the slots. The old one was stapled at both ends of the door bottom. It was 32 inches long. It was 1 and ¾ inches wide. The blades were in the kerfs doing what blades do in kerfs, which is securing the seal to the door bottom. I pulled the old one off and would need to drive the new one on.

That is, if we can acquire a new one. It turns out the right replacement can’t be found just by knowing the exact dimensions. You have to know the serial number of the door or the serial number of the seal.

The seal is in shreds. If it ever was marked with a serial number, it was destroyed long ago.

The door, which a Pella representative will patiently tell you, should have a serial number on a label fixed to the top hinge on the door. It’s not on the middle or the lower hinge—it’s on the top hinge, which would be fine if it were but it’s not.

How long can you expect a paper label to last on a door hinge that is more than a decade old?

It doesn’t matter if the hinges are all stamped permanently with the word “Pella.” If you don’t have the serial number, you don’t have anything.

All we want to know is whether we can purchase a replacement seal. Well:

The Damned Serial Number

so much depends


a multi-character

serial number

missing in


nowhere to be found upon the


Author: James Amos

I'm a retired consult-liaison psychiatrist. I navigated the path in a phased retirement program through the hospital where I was employed. I was fully retired as of June 30, 2020. This blog chronicles my journey.

2 thoughts on “So Much Depends Upon the Serial Number”

  1. Also had a recent Pella encounter and did not have a serial number. Multipoint patio door (4 latches) was out of line and it took a magical pushing maneuver to lock it. Made a serious attempt to DIY – but after reading through multiple documents – the solution was not evident to me. Told them to put me in the service schedule – less expensive in the long run.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, the Pella customer service system is pretty complicated. We’re waiting for a bottom of the door sweep to be delivered. It’s supposed to be shipped this week. It looks like the serial number requirement from the customer was waived. It was such a difficult procedure, we’re getting it as a “Pella gesture,” meaning it’ll be free. We’re looking at other options, just in case this falls through.

      Liked by 1 person

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