Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold temperatures, winter months mean weather changes that influence every part of daily life. 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 elements often goes ignored: our doors.
Your front door is more than just an appealing entrance to your home or a reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier defending you from windy weather that awaits on the other side. Just like any other aspect of our homes, it’s important to make sure your door is not only operating properly but also keeping your home guarded against the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t block out the cold can mean an increase in energy bills and a drafty, uncomfortable home. Left unchecked, some problems might lead to the need for a new replacement door sooner than you’d expect. Don’t let things go to that extreme! Winter is a great time to review 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 prime working condition to get you through the cold season.
What To Look For:
When the air gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. When temperatures get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can start to show, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since most doors are cut to measured door frame sizes, any amount of warping can end in a door catching on the frame. This can be observed in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. In many cases, this starts at the bottom of the door.
Left alone, this warping can cause 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 severe, even with a small gap. Without repair, warping can bring about larger gaps, increased sticking and eventual concerns with loosened hinges that could create severe door damage.
Just as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also affect doors over time. These humidity changes generally come from inside the home. Winter presents a specific challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in indoor air humidity.
his humidity drop can result in cracking in doors. Dry air will absorb moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can create troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t result in the long-term practical effects that can come with warping, but it can play a serious role in your door’s appeal. It will be especially obvious 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. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could lead to not only paint cracking and chipping away.
Keeping Doors Healthy Throughout the Winter
Winter weather can have a notable impact on your entry doors. But knowing what causes the issues makes it easy to find ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the damaging impact of the elements.
A bit of prevention and maintenance can go a long way toward keeping your doors healthy during the most extreme winter weather. Here are some common, easy ways to prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home as soon as they’re installed, and the weather takes its toll just as quickly. So even if your door was installed within the last 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 part of protecting your doors. Sealing strips can be placed around the edges of the door. They are a good way to protect against gaps between your door and frame—helping to stop cold air from squeezing through. These soft adhesive strips collapse a small amount whenever the door is closed, pressing to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also maintaining the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to increase soundproofing.
Sealing helps prevent cold air from passing through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain warm air isn’t getting out. Particularly with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s important 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 creates a barrier against warm air leaking through the lower track or bottom of the door.
Loose hinges may seem like an issue only for homes with older doors. But if you feel cold air is leaking into your home, 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 loosen from the frame due to warping and use. Taking a moment to fix the hinges is a great preventative action 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 might strip the socket, ruin the screw and lead to more severe problems with hinges down the road.
You may not be disturbed by the drier indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be impacted by it. Using a humidifier is an effective way to keep an acceptable moisture level in your space’s air. Choose a humidifier that allows you to adjust and maintain the desired humidity level for the best results. This will keep from adding too much moisture in the air, which can develop a different set of problems.
A consistent humidity level in your space isn’t just important 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 coming down with that dreaded winter cold.
These basic steps are great options when it comes to making sure your home’s doors remain in peak condition for years.
Is it time to give your home an updated look in your doorway? If you’re searching for a new door that can help to protect your home from winter weather, the professionals at your local Pella showroom can help.