Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly temperatures, winter months mean weather changes that play a role in every part of daily life in Albany. And while we might be quick to make adjustments to our wardrobe or heater setting to meet the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the weather often goes unmentioned: 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 significant barrier defending you from colder weather that waits outdoors. 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 protected from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t keep out the cold can result in more expensive energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left ignored, 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 signs of a door that might be failing, as well as the steps you can take to make sure your door is in top working condition.
What To Look For:
When the weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. When 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 most doors are cut to exact door frame sizes, any type of warping can lead to a door catching on the frame. This can be seen in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. Usually this can first be seen at the bottom of the door—thanks to gravity.
Left unchecked, this warping can cause gaps between the door and the frame that let in outside air. While these gaps often go unseen, the effect on your home temperature can be severe, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can bring about larger gaps, more sticking and eventual concerns with loosened hinges that could create structural door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can take its toll on doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over time. These humidity changes often come from inside the home. Wintertime presents a specific challenge as home heating systems can cause a decline in indoor air humidity.
Over time, this humidity drop can cause cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored within your wood door – and this can cause 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 evident in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint gives up moisture due to low humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood below the surface also begins expanding and contracting, 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 significant impact on your front doors. But learning what causes the issues makes it easy to come up with ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the brunt of the elements.
Just like a person might take vitamin C to fight against a winter bug, an bit of prevention can aid in keeping your doors healthy during the most severe winter weather. Here are some common, and simple, ways to strengthen your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a frame 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 properly sealed is an important step for protecting your doors. Sealing strips can be placed around the edges of the door. They are a good way to protect against gaps between your door and frame—helping stop cold air from seeping in. These soft adhesive strips collapse a small amount whenever the door is closed, pressing to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also maintaining the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to boost soundproofing.
Sealing helps stop cold air from coming through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to make sure warm air isn’t leaking outside. Particularly 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.
Placing a draft-excluding strip along the bottom of sliding doors or at the base of entryway doors produces 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 getting into your room, it’s worth taking a look at the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as tightly 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 measure 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, ruin the screw and lead to more severe problems with hinges later.
You may not be disturbed by the drier indoor air that comes with winter, but your doors certainly can be impacted by it. Using a humidifier is an effective way to keep an ideal moisture level in your home’s air. Choose one that allows you to set and maintain a chosen humidity level for best results. This will prevent adding too much moisture in the air, which can cause a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your home isn’t just helpful for your doors, but any other wooden furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also increase the overall quality of your room’s air—which means less chance of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be a vitamin C supplement to give your doors a boost, these simple steps are virtually 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 doorway? Are you looking for a door that can better defend against years of extreme weather? Reach out to the pros at Pella of Albany to find the perfect fit for your home.