Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold days, winter months bring weather changes that play a role in every part of daily life in Rochester. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or thermostat setting to deal with the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the best defenses against the weather often goes overlooked: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a inviting entryway to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier defending you from blustery weather that awaits outside. Just like any other part of our homes, it’s vital to make sure your door is not only operating properly, but also keeping your home safe from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t seal out the cold can result in increased energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left forgotten, 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 review 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 the best working condition.
What To Look For:
When the weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those constructed with wood fibers, begin to contract. As temperatures get warmer, they expand.
Over the years, this expansion and contraction can take its toll, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since the majority of doors are cut to exact door frame sizes, any bit of warping can end in 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—because of gravity.
Left unrepaired, 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 noticeable, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can result in larger gaps, more sticking and eventual issues with loosened hinges that could create structural door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also have an impact on doors over seasons. These humidity changes frequently come from inside the home. Wintertime presents a specific challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in indoor air humidity.
Over the years, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will take in moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored in your wood door – and this can mean unwanted warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term usability effects that can come with warping, but it can play a serious role in your door’s appeal. It will be especially noticeable in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint gives up moisture due to reduced humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood under the surface also begins to expand and contract, the paint will shift as well. Particularly at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could result in not only paint cracking but, if left ignored, paint chipping from the door.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a meaningful impact on your exterior doors. But learning what causes the issues makes it easy to identify ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the full force of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to defend against a winter cold, an ounce of prevention can go a long way toward keeping your doors healthy during the most extreme winter weather. Here are some common, and easy, ways to prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll just as quickly. So even if your door was placed in the past 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 step for 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 keep cold air from seeping in. 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 increase soundproofing.
Sealing helps prevent cold air from coming through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain 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 leaving 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 notice 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 securely attached to the frame as possible. Over time, hinges can get detatched from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to adjust 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 and not a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary can strip the socket, destroy the screw and lead to more severe problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be affected by the dry indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be affected by it. Using a humidifier is the best way to keep an acceptable moisture level in your home’s air. Choose a model that allows you to adjust and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will keep from creating too much moisture in the air, which can develop a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your space isn’t just helpful for your doors, but any other wooden furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also improve the overall quality of your room’s air—which means less chance of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While there’s not a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these easy steps are virtually as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in their best condition for the forseeable future. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your entryway? Are you looking for a door that can better defend against years of elements? Call the team at Pella of Rochester to find the perfect fit for your home.