Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly temps, winter months mean weather changes that play a role in every part of daily life in West Springfield. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or heater setting to face the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the strongest defenses against the elements often goes unmentioned: 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 sturdy barrier defending you from colder weather that waits 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 keep out the cold can mean more expensive energy bills and a generally colder home. Left forgotten, some problems might lead to 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 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 made with wood fibers, begin to contract. When temps get warmer, they expand.
Over the years, this expansion and contraction can have an impact, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are cut to measured door frame sizes, any amount 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. In many cases this begins at the bottom of the door—due to gravity.
Left alone, this warping can cause gaps between the door and the frame that allow in outside air. While these gaps often go unnoticed, the effect on your home temperature can be significant, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can result in larger gaps, more sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could create significant 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 seasons. These humidity changes often come from inside the home. Colder weather presents a seasonal challenge as home heating systems can cause a decrease 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 within your wood door – and this can mean undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term usability effects that can come with warping, but it can play a significant role in your door’s appeal. It will be especially evident in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint drains moisture due to low humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood under the surface also begins to do the same, 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 from the door.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a meaningful impact on your front doors. But learning what causes the problems makes it easy to identify ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the damaging impact of the elements.
Just like you might take vitamin C to battle against a winter bug, an bit of prevention can go a long way toward keeping your doors sturdy during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and simple, ways to strengthen your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a frame as soon as they’re installed, and weather takes its toll just as quickly. So even if your door was added in the last year, it’s a good thought 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 squeezing through. These soft adhesive strips collapse slightly 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 passing through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to know that warm air isn’t getting out. Particularly with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s vital to make sure that warmth isn’t being lost through convection.
Putting a draft-excluding strip along the bottom of sliding doors or at the base of entryway doors produces a barrier against warm air leaking through the lower track or bottom of the door.
Loose hinges may seem like a issue only for homes with older doors. But if you can tell cold air is getting into your room, it’s worth checking 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 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 and not a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary might strip the socket, damage the screw and lead to further problems with hinges later.
You may not be affected by the drier indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be damaged by it. Using a humidifier is the best way to keep an ideal moisture level in your space’s air. Choose a humidifier that allows you to set and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will keep from creating too much moisture in the air, which can lead to a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your house isn’t just good for your doors, but any other wooden furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also improve the overall quality of your home’s air—which means less likelihood of health problems, like having that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be a vitamin C supplement to keep your doors healthy, these simple steps are virtually as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in top condition for as long as possible. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your doorway? Are you planning for a door that can better defend against years of weather extremes? Reach out to the professionals at Pella of West Springfield to find the perfect fit for your home.