Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk days, winter months mean weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Westerly. And while we might be quick to make adjustments to our wardrobe or home comfort setting to deal with the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the best defenses against the cold often goes overlooked: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a inviting entrance to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier defending you from colder weather that lurks on the other side. Just like any other facet of our homes, it’s vital to make sure your door is not only operating efficiently, but also keeping your home protected from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t block out the cold can result in higher energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left unchecked, some problems might result in the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that far! Winter is a great time to review the indications of a door that might be showing signs of damage, as well as the steps you can take to make sure your door is in the best working condition.
What To Look For:
When the weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those constructed with wood fibers, begin to contract. As temps get warmer, they expand.
Over a number of seasons, this expansion and contraction can start to show, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since most doors are crafted to measured door frame sizes, any type of warping can lead to a door catching on the frame. This can be observed in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. Usually this can first be seen at the bottom of the door—thanks to gravity.
Left unchecked, this warping can lead to gaps between the door and the frame that allow in outside air. While these gaps often go unseen, the effect on your home temperature can be severe, even with a small gap. Without repair, warping can result in larger gaps, increased sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could end in significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over time. These humidity changes frequently come from inside the home. Winter presents a seasonal challenge as home heating systems can cause a decline in indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any available source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can create unwanted warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term practical effects that can come with warping, but it can play a serious role in your door’s look. It will be especially obvious in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint gives up moisture due to reduced humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood under the surface also begins expanding and contracting, the paint will shift as well. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could mean not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping from the door.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Seasonal weather can have a notable impact on your entry doors. But understanding what causes the damage makes it easy to come up with ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the brunt of the elements.
Just like a person might take vitamin C to defend against a winter bug, an dose of prevention can go a long way toward keeping your doors sturdy during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and easy, ways to brace your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a frame as soon as they’re installed, and weather takes its toll immediately. So even if your door was added in the past year, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps properly sealed is an important key to protecting your doors. Sealing strips can be added around the edges of the door. They are a good way to block gaps between your door and frame—helping stop cold air from seeping in. These soft adhesive strips collapse a bit whenever the door is closed, adjusting to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also protecting the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to increase soundproofing.
Sealing helps stop cold air from passing through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to know that warm air isn’t leaking outside. Particularly with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s vital to make sure that heat isn’t being lost through convection.
Placing a draft-excluding strip along the bottom of sliding doors or at the base of entryway doors produces a barrier against warm air escaping through the lower track or bottom of the door.
Loose hinges may seem like a problem only for homes with older doors. But if you feel cold air is leaking into your room, it’s worth taking a look at the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as tightly attached to the frame as they’re able to be. Over time, hinges can get detatched from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to adjust the hinges is a great preventative measure to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To make sure damage isn’t created by overdoing it, it’s important to tighten hinges slowly and manually. Use a screwdriver and not a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary could strip the socket, damage the screw and lead to further problems with hinges later.
You may not be disturbed by the drier indoor air that comes with winter, but your doors certainly can be damaged by it. Using a humidifier is the best way to keep an acceptable moisture level in your home’s air. Choose one that allows you to adjust and maintain a chosen humidity level for best results. This will defend against putting too much moisture in the air, which can lead to a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your space isn’t just good for your doors, but any other wooden pieces you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also improve the overall quality of your home’s air—which means less possibility of health problems, like having that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these easy steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in peak condition for the forseeable future. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your front door? Are you searching for a door that can better stand up to years of elements? Call the professionals at Pella of Westerly to find the perfect fit for your home.