Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk days, winter months bring weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Providence. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or home comfort setting to meet the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the cold often goes overlooked: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a appealing entryway to your home or first glimpse of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier protecting you from windy weather that awaits outside. Just like any other part of our homes, it’s important to make sure your door is not only operating properly, but also keeping your home protected 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 colder home. Left ignored, some problems might result in the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that far! Winter is a great time to review 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 temperature gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. After temperatures get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can take its toll, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since most doors are made to measured door frame sizes, any amount 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—because of gravity.
Left unchecked, this warping can lead to gaps between the door and the frame that let 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 bring about larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual concerns with loosened hinges that could end in severe door damage.
Just as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over seasons. These humidity changes generally come from indoors. Wintertime presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a decline in indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this 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 mean unwanted warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t result in 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 loses moisture due to decreased humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood under the surface also begins to do the same, the paint will move as well. Especially at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could result in not only paint cracking but, if left unchecked, paint chipping off.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a notable 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 damaging impact of the elements.
Just like you might take vitamin C to battle against a winter bug, an bit of prevention can aid in keeping your doors in good shape during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and easy, ways to prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a frame the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll soon after. So even if your door was added in the past 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 block gaps between your door and frame—helping prevent 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 protecting the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to improve soundproofing.
Sealing helps keep cold air from passing through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain warm air isn’t escaping. Especially 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.
Placing 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 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 tighten the hinges is a great preventative measure 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 worse problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be disturbed by the dry indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be affected by it. Using a humidifier is an effective way to keep an acceptable moisture level in your indoor air. Choose one that allows you to set and maintain a chosen humidity level for best results. This will prevent 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 important for your doors, but any other wooden pieces you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to the overall quality of your indoor air—which means less likelihood of health problems, like coming down with that dreaded winter cold.
While isn’t a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these basic steps are almost as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in top condition for years. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your entryway? Are you planning for a door that can better stand up to years of extreme weather? Reach out to the pros at Pella of Providence to find the perfect fit for your home.