Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold temperatures, winter months mean weather changes that play a role in every part of daily life in Terre Haute. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or thermostat setting to meet the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the cold often goes overlooked: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a welcoming entry to your home or first glimpse of style for your visitors. It’s also a sturdy barrier defending you from colder weather that lurks outside. Just like any other part of our homes, it’s vital to make sure your door is not only operating well, but also keeping your home guarded from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t block out the cold can mean more expensive energy bills and a generally colder 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 diagnose the symptoms of a door that might be starting to fail, 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 created with wood fibers, begin to contract. When temps get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can have an impact, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since most doors are cut to exact door frame sizes, any type of warping can end in a door catching on the frame. This can be seen in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. Usually this begins at the bottom of the door—due to gravity.
Left unchecked, this warping can lead to gaps between the door and the frame that bring in outside air. While these gaps often go overlooked, the effect on your home temperature can be significant, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can bring about larger gaps, more sticking and eventual concerns with loosened hinges that could create significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of changing temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over time. These humidity changes generally come from indoors. Wintertime presents a specific challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in indoor air humidity.
Over the years, this humidity drop can cause cracking in doors. Dry air will absorb moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored in your wood door – and this can mean troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term usability effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous role in your door’s appearance. It will be especially evident in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses moisture due to decreased humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood beneath the surface also begins expanding and contracting, the paint will move as well. Especially at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could lead to not only paint cracking but, if left unchecked, paint chipping from the door.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a significant impact on your exterior doors. But knowing what causes the issues makes it easy to find ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the brunt of the elements.
Just like a person might take vitamin C to battle against a winter bug, an ounce of prevention can go a long way toward keeping your doors in good shape during the most extreme winter weather. Here are some common, and simple, ways to prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a house right after they’re installed, and weather takes its toll immediately. So even if your door was installed in the prior year, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps effectively sealed is an important part of 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 small amount whenever the door is closed, adjusting to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also preserving the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to improve soundproofing.
Sealing helps stop cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to make sure warm air isn’t escaping. Especially with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s crucial to make sure that warm air 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 leaving 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 notice cold air is leaking into your room, it’s worth checking the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as firmly attached to the frame as possible. Over time, hinges can get detatched from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to fix the hinges is a great preventative step to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To be certain damage isn’t done 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 might strip the socket, damage the screw and lead to more severe problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be affected by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with wintertime, but your doors certainly can be damaged by it. Using a humidifier is an effective way to keep an appropriate moisture level in your indoor air. Choose one that allows you to set and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will prevent adding too much moisture in the air, which can cause 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 room’s air—which means less likelihood of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While isn’t a vitamin C supplement to give your doors a boost, these basic steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors stay in top condition for as long as possible. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your front door? Are you planning for a door that can better withstand years of elements? Reach out to the pros at Pella of Terre Haute to find the perfect fit for your home.