Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly temps, winter months bring weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Bloomington. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or heater setting to deal with the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the strongest defenses against the weather often goes overlooked: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a appealing entry to your home or first glimpse of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier protecting you from windy weather that waits on the other side. Just like any other aspect of our homes, it’s important to make sure your door is not only operating well, but also keeping your home safe 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 ignored, some problems might end with the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that far! Winter is a great time to check for the signs 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.
What To Look For:
When the temperature gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. After weather get warmer, they expand.
Over the years, this expansion and contraction can have an impact, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since most doors are cut to measured door frame sizes, any bit of warping can lead to a door catching on the frame. This can be identified in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. More often than not this can first be seen at the bottom of the door—due to gravity.
Left alone, this warping can lead to 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 severe, even with a small gap. Without repair, warping can bring about larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual concerns with loosened hinges that could lead to structural door damage.
Just as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can take its toll on doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over time. These humidity changes often come from indoors. Wintertime presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in indoor air humidity.
Over the years, this humidity drop can result in cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored within your wood door – and this can create undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term practical effects that can come with warping, but it can play a significant 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 decreased humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood below the surface also begins to expand and contract, the paint will be moved as well. Particularly at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could lead to not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Seasonal weather can have a meaningful impact on your exterior doors. But knowing 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 we might take vitamin C to fight against a winter bug, an ounce of prevention can help in keeping your doors sturdy during the most intense 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 soon after. So even if your door was added in the prior year, it’s a good thought to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps effectively 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 close gaps between your door and frame—helping keep cold air from leaking. These soft adhesive strips collapse a small amount 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 increase 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 leaking outside. Notably with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s important 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 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 can tell cold air is leaking into your room, it’s worth investigating the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as firmly attached to the frame as can be. 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 make sure damage isn’t created by overdoing it, it’s important to tighten hinges slowly and manually. Use a screwdriver instead of a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary could strip the socket, destroy the screw and lead to worse problems with hinges later.
You may not be disturbed by the dehydrated 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 appropriate moisture level in your space’s air. Choose a model that allows you to adjust and maintain a desired humidity level for best results. This will keep from putting too much moisture in the air, which can develop a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your space isn’t just important for your doors, but any other wooden furniture you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to the overall quality of your indoor air—which means less chance of health problems, like having that dreaded winter cold.
While isn’t a vitamin C supplement to give your doors a boost, these easy steps are virtually 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 entryway? Are you searching for a door that can better defend against years of extreme weather? Reach out to the team at Pella of Bloomington to find the perfect fit for your home.