Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly days, winter months come with weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Hunt Valley. And while we might be quick to make adjustments to our wardrobe or heater setting to face the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the elements often goes ignored: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a inviting entry to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a sturdy barrier protecting you from colder weather that awaits outdoors. Just like any other facet of our homes, it’s necessary to make sure your door is not only operating properly, but also keeping your home protected from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t keep out the cold can result in increased energy bills and a generally chilly home. Left unchecked, some problems might end with the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that long! Winter is a great time to review the symptoms of a door that might be failing, 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 made with wood fibers, begin to contract. After temperatures get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can take its toll, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are cut to measured door frame sizes, any bit of warping can lead to a door catching on the frame. This can be seen in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. More often than not this starts at the bottom of the door—thanks to gravity.
Left unrepaired, this warping can create gaps between the door and the frame that allow in outside air. While these gaps often go overlooked, the effect on your home temperature can be significant, even with a small gap. Without repair, warping can bring about larger gaps, increased sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could end in severe door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over the years. These humidity changes generally come from inside the house. Wintertime presents a unique 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 take in moisture from any available source – including the moisture stored in your wood door – and this can cause undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t result in the long-term usability effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous role in your door’s appeal. It will be especially evident in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint gives up moisture due to low humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood under the surface also begins to expand and contract, the paint will shift as well. Especially at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could result in not only paint cracking but, if left unchecked, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Colder weather can have a significant impact on your entry doors. But learning what causes the problems makes it easy to find ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the damaging impact of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to fight against a winter bug, an dose of prevention can aid in keeping your doors sturdy during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and convenient, ways to strengthen your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a house as soon as they’re installed, and weather takes its toll soon after. So even if your door was placed in the past year, it’s a good time to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps correctly sealed is an important key to protecting your doors. Sealing strips can sit around the edges of the door. They are a good way to protect against gaps between your door and frame—helping prevent cold air from seeping in. These soft adhesive strips collapse a bit whenever the door is closed, squeezing to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also preserving the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to boost soundproofing.
Sealing helps prevent cold air from passing through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to make sure warm air isn’t getting out. Especially 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.
Putting a draft-excluding strip along the bottom of sliding doors or at the base of entryway doors provides a barrier against warm air leaking through the lower track or bottom of the door.
Loose hinges may seem like a concern only for homes with older doors. But if you feel cold air is entering 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 possible. Over time, hinges can loosen from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to tighten the hinges is a great preventative step to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To ensure damage isn’t caused by overdoing it, it’s important to tighten hinges slowly and manually. Use a screwdriver rather than a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary can strip the socket, ruin the screw and lead to more severe problems with hinges down the road.
You may not be bothered by the drier indoor air that comes with wintertime, but your doors certainly can be impacted by it. Using a humidifier is a good way to keep an ideal moisture level in your home’s air. Choose a model that allows you to adjust and maintain a chosen humidity level for best results. This will defend against adding too much moisture in the air, which can develop a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your home isn’t just good for your doors, but any other wooden furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to the overall quality of your room’s air—which means less chance of health problems, like coming down with that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these basic steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors remain in peak condition for the forseeable future. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your doorway? Are you looking for a door that can better defend against years of weather extremes? Contact the team at Pella of Hunt Valley to find the perfect fit for your home.