Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly temperatures, winter months come with weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Mt. Pleasant. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or heater setting to deal with the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the strongest defenses against the weather often goes ignored: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a welcoming entrance to your home or first glimpse of style for your visitors. It’s also a sturdy barrier protecting you from windy weather that awaits outdoors. Just like any other facet of our homes, it’s important to make sure your door is not only operating efficiently, but also keeping your home safe from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t block out the cold can mean increased energy bills and a generally chilly home. Left unchecked, some problems might result in the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that far! Winter is a great time to diagnose the indications 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 created with wood fibers, begin to contract. When temps 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 made to exact door frame sizes, any type of warping can end in a door catching on the frame. This can be seen in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. In many cases 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 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 significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also have an impact on doors over time. These humidity changes often come from inside the home. Colder weather presents a specific challenge as home heating systems can cause a decrease indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will absorb moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can create troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t result in the long-term structural effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous role in your door’s appeal. It will be especially noticeable in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses moisture due to decreased humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood below 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 ignored, paint chipping from the door.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Seasonal weather can have a notable impact on your entry doors. But learning what causes the problems makes it easy to come up with ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the full force of the elements.
Just like a person might take vitamin C to fight 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 easy, ways to prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a frame right after they’re installed, and weather takes its toll immediately. So even if your door was placed in the last year, it’s a good thought to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps properly 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 close 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 preserving the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to increase soundproofing.
Sealing helps keep cold air from coming through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain warm air isn’t escaping. Particularly with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s vital 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 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 investigating the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as securely attached to the frame as can be. Over time, hinges can loosen from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to tighten the hinges is a great preventative step to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To be certain 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 could strip the socket, destroy the screw and lead to more severe problems with hinges down the road.
You may not be disturbed by the dry 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 acceptable moisture level in your indoor air. Choose one that allows you to set and maintain a desired humidity level for best results. This will defend against putting too much moisture in the air, which can develop a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your home isn’t just important for your doors, but any other wooden pieces you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to the overall quality of your room’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 basic steps are almost as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors remain in their best condition for years. 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 extreme weather? Reach out to the team at Pella of Mt. Pleasant to find the perfect fit for your home.