Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk temperatures, winter months bring weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Wilmington. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or home comfort setting to deal with the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the strongest defenses against the elements often goes overlooked: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a inviting entry to your home or first impression of style for your visitors. It’s also a significant barrier defending you from colder weather that lurks outdoors. Just like any other part of our homes, it’s necessary 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 higher energy bills and a generally colder home. Left ignored, some problems might lead to the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go to that extreme! Winter is a great time to review the indications of a door that might be starting to fail, 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 weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. When temperatures get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can start to show, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are cut to exact door frame sizes, any bit 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. More often than not this can first be seen at the bottom of the door—thanks to gravity.
Left alone, this warping can lead to gaps between the door and the frame that bring 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 lead to larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual issues with loosened hinges that could end in severe door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can take its toll on doors, changes in humidity can also have an impact on doors over time. These humidity changes frequently come from inside the home. Wintertime presents a seasonal 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 absorb moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored within your wood door – and this can cause undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t bring the long-term usability 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 drains moisture due to low humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood under the surface also begins to do the same, the paint will shift as well. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could lead to not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping from the door.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Colder weather can have a meaningful impact on your front doors. But learning 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 you might take vitamin C to battle against a winter cold, an bit of prevention can help in keeping your doors sturdy during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and easy, ways to brace your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home as soon as 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 idea to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps correctly 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 protect against gaps between your door and frame—helping stop cold air from squeezing through. These soft adhesive strips collapse a bit 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 improve soundproofing.
Sealing helps stop cold air from coming through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to know that warm air isn’t leaking outside. Especially with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s crucial to make sure that warm air isn’t being lost through convection.
Adding 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 problem only for homes with older doors. But if you feel cold air is leaking into your room, it’s worth taking a look at 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 fix the hinges is a great preventative step to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To make sure damage isn’t done by overdoing it, it’s important to tighten hinges slowly and manually. Use a screwdriver rather than a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary might strip the socket, destroy the screw and lead to worse problems with hinges down the road.
You may not be affected by the drier indoor air that comes with wintertime, but your doors certainly can be impacted by it. Using a humidifier is an effective way to keep an appropriate moisture level in your space’s air. Choose a model that allows you to determine 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 house isn’t just important for your doors, but any other wooden furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also improve the overall quality of your home’s air—which means less possibility of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While isn’t a vitamin C supplement to keep your doors healthy, these simple steps are almost as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors stay in peak condition for as long as possible. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your front door? Are you looking for a door that can better defend against years of weather extremes? Reach out to the professionals at Pella of Wilmington to find the perfect fit for your home.