Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold temperatures, winter months come with weather changes that influence every part of daily life in South Portland. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or home comfort setting to deal with the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the elements often goes ignored: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a welcoming entrance to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier defending you from colder weather that lurks outside. Just like any other aspect of our homes, it’s necessary to make sure your door is not only operating well, but also keeping your home safe from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t block out the cold can lead to more expensive energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left ignored, some problems might result in the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go to that extreme! Winter is a great time to review the symptoms 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 temperature gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. When temperatures 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 most doors are cut to specific door frame sizes, any amount of warping can result in a door catching on the frame. This can be observed 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 unrepaired, this warping can cause 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 repair, warping can bring about larger gaps, increased sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could create severe door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over time. These humidity changes generally come from inside the home. Colder weather 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 absorb moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored in your wood door – and this can mean troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term structural effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous role in your door’s look. It will be especially obvious in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses 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. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could result in not only paint cracking but, if left unchecked, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Seasonal weather can have a meaningful impact on your exterior doors. But knowing what causes the problems makes it easy to identify ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the full force of the elements.
Just like you might take vitamin C to battle against a winter bug, an ounce 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 prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a frame the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll immediately. So even if your door was installed in the last year, it’s a good time 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 be added around the edges of the door. They are a good way to close gaps between your door and frame—helping prevent cold air from squeezing through. These soft adhesive strips collapse slightly whenever the door is closed, squeezing 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 passing through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain warm air isn’t escaping. Notably with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s important to make sure that warmth 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 can tell cold air is getting into your room, it’s worth investigating the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as securely attached to the frame as they’re able to be. Over time, hinges can loosen 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 make sure 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 more severe problems with hinges later.
You may not be affected by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with wintertime, but your doors certainly can be affected by it. Using a humidifier is an effective way to keep an ideal moisture level in your home’s air. Choose a humidifier that allows you to adjust and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will defend against 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 good for your doors, but any other wooden pieces you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to the overall quality of your home’s air—which means less possibility of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be a vitamin C supplement to keep your doors healthy, these easy steps are virtually as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors remain in top condition for years. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your doorway? Are you planning for a door that can better stand up to years of extreme weather? Reach out to the team at Pella of South Portland to find the perfect fit for your home.