Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold temperatures, winter months mean weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Decatur. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or heater setting to face the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the elements often goes unmentioned: 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 steadfast barrier defending you from windy weather that lurks outside. Just like any other facet of our homes, it’s necessary 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 lead to increased energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left forgotten, some problems might lead to the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that far! Winter is a great time to review the indications 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 air gets chillier, wooden doors, or those constructed 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 made to exact door frame sizes, any amount 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 starts at the bottom of the door—thanks to gravity.
Left unchecked, this warping can create 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 repair, warping can result in larger gaps, more sticking and eventual issues with loosened hinges that could create significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over time. These humidity changes often come from inside the house. Colder weather presents a specific challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in indoor air humidity.
Over time, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will absorb moisture from any available source – including the moisture stored in your wood door – and this can create troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t bring the long-term structural 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 gives up 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 mean not only paint cracking but, if left unchecked, paint chipping from the door.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Seasonal weather can have a meaningful impact on your exterior doors. But understanding what causes the issues makes it easy to find ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the damaging impact of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to fight against a winter illness, 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 brace your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll soon after. So even if your door was installed in the last year, it’s a good thought to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps properly 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 close gaps between your door and frame—helping stop cold air from squeezing through. These soft adhesive strips collapse slightly whenever the door is closed, pressing to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also preserving the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to boost 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 leaking outside. Notably 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 provides a barrier against warm air escaping 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 can tell cold air is entering 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 can be. Over time, hinges can get detatched from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to adjust the hinges is a great preventative action 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, ruin the screw and lead to further problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be affected by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be impacted by it. Using a humidifier is a good way to keep an acceptable moisture level in your home’s air. Choose a humidifier that allows you to determine and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will keep from creating 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 furniture you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also increase the overall quality of your indoor air—which means less possibility of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these simple steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors remain in top condition for the forseeable future. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your doorway? Are you looking for a door that can better withstand years of extreme weather? Contact the professionals at Pella of Decatur to find the perfect fit for your home.