Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk days, winter months come with weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Southern Pines. 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 best defenses against the elements often goes unmentioned: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a appealing entryway to your home or first impression of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier defending you from blustery weather that waits outdoors. Just like any other aspect 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 block out the cold can mean more expensive 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 to that extreme! Winter is a great time to diagnose the signs 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 created with wood fibers, begin to contract. After temps get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can take its toll, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since the majority of doors are made to exact door frame sizes, any bit of warping can end in a door catching on the frame. This can be identified in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. Usually this begins at the bottom of the door—thanks to gravity.
Left alone, this warping can lead to gaps between the door and the frame that allow 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 result in larger gaps, more sticking and eventual issues with loosened hinges that could lead to structural door damage.
Just as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can take its toll on doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over the years. These humidity changes often come from inside the home. Winter presents a seasonal challenge as home heating systems can cause a decline in indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can cause cracking in doors. Dry air will absorb moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored within your wood door – and this can cause undesirable 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 appearance. It will be especially evident in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint gives up moisture due to reduced humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood below the surface also begins expanding and contracting, the paint will shift as well. Particularly 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 exterior doors. But understanding what causes the damage makes it easy to come up with 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 ounce of prevention can help in keeping your doors healthy during the most severe winter weather. Here are some common, and convenient, 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 immediately. So even if your door was installed in the past 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 part of protecting your doors. Sealing strips can be placed 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 slightly whenever the door is closed, adjusting 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 getting out. Particularly 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.
Putting a draft-excluding strip along the bottom of sliding doors or at the base of entryway doors produces 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 leaking into your room, it’s worth taking a look at 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 come loose 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 created 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 might strip the socket, damage the screw and lead to further problems with hinges later.
You may not be bothered by the dry 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 ideal moisture level in your space’s air. Choose one that allows you to adjust and maintain a chosen humidity level for best results. This will keep from putting too much moisture in the air, which can cause a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your house isn’t just important for your doors, but any other wooden pieces 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 isn’t a vitamin C supplement to give your doors a boost, these basic steps are virtually as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors stay in top condition for the forseeable future. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your front door? Are you searching for a door that can better withstand years of weather extremes? Call the team at Pella of Southern Pines to find the perfect fit for your home.