Protecting Your Doors from Winter Weather
Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk temperatures, winter months bring weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Idaho. And while we might be quick to make adjustments to our wardrobe or heater setting to face the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the cold often goes unmentioned: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a appealing entryway to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a significant barrier keeping you from windy weather that lurks outside. Just like any other facet of our homes, it’s important 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 keep out the cold can mean increased energy bills and a generally uncomfortable 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 diagnose the symptoms of a door that might be failing, 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 made with wood fibers, begin to contract. When weather get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can take its toll, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are cut to specific door frame sizes, any bit 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. In many cases this starts at the bottom of the door—due 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 significant, even with a small gap. Without repair, warping can result in larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual concerns with loosened hinges that could lead to significant door damage.
CrackingJust 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 house. Colder weather presents a specific challenge as home heating systems can cause a decrease indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can cause cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored within your wood door – and this can mean troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t result in the long-term practical effects that can come with warping, but it can play a significant role in your door’s look. It will be especially obvious in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint gives up moisture due to low humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood below the surface also begins to do the same, the paint will move as well. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could lead to not only paint cracking but, if left unchecked, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Colder weather can have a meaningful 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 brunt of the elements.
Just like you might take vitamin C to battle against a winter bug, an ounce 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.
SealingDoors start to settle into a frame the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll immediately. So even if your door was placed in the prior year, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps effectively sealed is an important key to 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 squeezing through. These soft adhesive strips collapse a bit whenever the door is closed, squeezing to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also protecting the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to increase soundproofing.
InsulatingSealing helps prevent cold air from passing through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to make sure warm air isn’t getting out. 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.
TighteningLoose hinges may seem like a problem only for homes with older doors. But if you feel cold air is getting 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 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 action 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 rather than a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary might strip the socket, ruin the screw and lead to further problems with hinges later.
Increasing humidityYou may not be bothered by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with the cold season, 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 a humidifier 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 lead to a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your home isn’t just helpful for your doors, but any other wooden furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also increase the overall quality of your room’s air—which means less possibility of health problems, like coming down with that dreaded winter cold.
While isn’t a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these easy steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors stay in peak condition for years. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your entryway? Are you looking for a door that can better stand up to years of weather extremes? Reach out to the team at Pella of Idaho to find the perfect fit for your home.