Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly temps, winter months bring weather changes that play a role in every part of daily life in Raleigh. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or home comfort setting to face the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the strongest defenses against the cold often goes unmentioned: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a welcoming entry to your home or first impression of style for your visitors. It’s also a sturdy barrier protecting you from windy weather that lurks on the other side. Just like any other facet of our homes, it’s vital to make sure your door is not only operating well, but also keeping your home guarded from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t keep out the cold can lead to more expensive energy bills and a generally chilly home. Left forgotten, some problems might lead to the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that far! Winter is a great time to review the signs of a door that might be showing signs of damage, as well as the steps you can take to make sure your door is in prime working condition.
What To Look For:
When the weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those created with wood fibers, begin to contract. As weather get warmer, they expand.
Over a number of seasons, this expansion and contraction can have an impact, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are cut to measured door frame sizes, any type of warping can result in a door catching on the frame. This can be identified in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. In many cases this begins at the bottom of the door—due to gravity.
Left alone, this warping can cause gaps between the door and the frame that let in outside air. While these gaps often go overlooked, the effect on your home temperature can be severe, even with a small gap. Without intervention, warping can bring about larger gaps, more sticking and eventual issues with loosened hinges that could end in significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of changing temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over seasons. These humidity changes generally come from indoors. Winter presents a seasonal challenge as home heating systems can cause a decline in indoor air humidity.
Over time, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will absorb moisture from any available source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can cause troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t bring the long-term practical effects that can come with warping, but it can play a significant 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 decreased humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood under the surface also begins to do the same, the paint will be moved as well. Particularly 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 meaningful impact on your entry doors. But knowing what causes the damage makes it easy to find ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the full force of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to fight against a winter cold, an dose of prevention can aid in keeping your doors healthy during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and simple, ways to strengthen your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home as soon as they’re installed, and weather takes its toll just as quickly. So even if your door was added 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 key to 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 keep 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 increase soundproofing.
Sealing helps prevent 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 crucial to make sure that warmth 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 leaving 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 getting into your room, it’s worth checking 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 tighten the hinges is a great preventative measure to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To make sure 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 can strip the socket, ruin the screw and lead to further problems with hinges down the road.
You may not be affected by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with wintertime, but your doors certainly can be damaged by it. Using a humidifier is the best way to keep an acceptable 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 prevent adding 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 important for your doors, but any other wooden pieces you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also increase the overall quality of your indoor air—which means less chance of health problems, like having that dreaded winter cold.
While there’s not 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 remain in peak condition for years. 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 extreme weather? Call the pros at Pella of Raleigh to find the perfect fit for your home.