Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk temps, winter months mean weather changes that play a role in every part of daily life in Annapolis. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or home comfort setting to face the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the cold often goes ignored: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a welcoming entryway to your home or first impression of style for your visitors. It’s also a significant barrier keeping you from colder weather that lurks outdoors. Just like any other facet of our homes, it’s vital to make sure your door is not only operating properly, but also keeping your home guarded from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t block out the cold can result in increased energy bills and a generally colder home. Left unchecked, 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 check for the symptoms of a door that might be starting to fail, as well as the steps you can take to make sure your door is in prime working condition.
What To Look For:
When the temperature gets chillier, wooden doors, or those constructed with wood fibers, begin to contract. When weather get warmer, they expand.
Over a number of seasons, this expansion and contraction can start to show, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since the majority of doors are crafted to exact door frame sizes, any bit of warping can result in a door catching on the frame. This can be seen in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. More often than not this starts at the bottom of the door—due 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 overlooked, the effect on your home temperature can be severe, even with a small gap. Without intervention, warping can result in larger gaps, increased sticking and eventual problems 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 effect doors over the years. These humidity changes frequently come from inside the home. Colder weather presents a specific challenge as home heating systems can cause a decrease indoor air humidity.
Over the years, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will take in moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can cause undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t result in the long-term usability effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous role in your door’s appearance. It will be especially noticeable 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 to expand and contract, the paint will be moved as well. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could result in not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a notable impact on your front doors. But learning what causes the damage makes it easy to identify ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the damaging impact of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to defend against a winter cold, an dose of prevention can help in keeping your doors in good shape during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and convenient, 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 just as quickly. So even if your door was installed in the past year, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps correctly 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 block gaps between your door and frame—helping prevent 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 maintaining the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to boost soundproofing.
Sealing helps keep cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to know that warm air isn’t escaping. Especially with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s vital 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 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 notice cold air is getting 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 possible. Over time, hinges can loosen from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to fix the hinges is a great preventative action to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To be certain damage isn’t caused by overdoing it, it’s important to tighten hinges slowly and manually. Use a screwdriver instead of a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary can strip the socket, damage the screw and lead to further problems with hinges down the road.
You may not be affected by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be damaged by it. Using a humidifier is a good way to keep an appropriate moisture level in your home’s air. Choose a model that allows you to determine and maintain a chosen humidity level for best results. This will defend against 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 furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also increase the overall quality of your indoor air—which means less likelihood of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While there’s not a vitamin C supplement to keep your doors healthy, these basic steps are almost 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 front door? Are you planning for a door that can better withstand years of elements? Call the pros at Pella of Annapolis to find the perfect fit for your home.