Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold temps, winter months bring weather changes that play a role in every part of daily life in Petoskey. 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 cold often goes ignored: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a inviting entryway to your home or first glimpse of style for your visitors. It’s also a significant barrier keeping you from windy weather that awaits 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 protected 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 colder home. Left forgotten, some problems might end with the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that long! 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 the best working condition.
What To Look For:
When the weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those constructed with wood fibers, begin to contract. After temperatures get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can start to show, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since most doors are cut to measured door frame sizes, any amount of warping can end in a door catching on the frame. This can be observed in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. More often than not this starts at the bottom of the door—due to gravity.
Left unrepaired, this warping can create 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 severe, even with a small gap. Without intervention, warping can lead to larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could create severe 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 seasons. These humidity changes often come from inside the house. Wintertime presents a specific challenge as home heating systems can cause a decrease indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can result in cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can mean unwanted warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term structural effects that can come with warping, but it can play a serious role in your door’s appeal. It will be especially evident in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint drains moisture due to decreased humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood beneath the surface also begins to do the same, the paint will shift as well. Particularly at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could mean not only paint cracking but, if left unchecked, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a significant impact on your front doors. But learning what causes the damage makes it easy to come up with ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the full force of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to battle against a winter illness, an bit of prevention can help in keeping your doors sturdy during the most extreme winter weather. Here are some common, and convenient, ways to prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a house as soon as 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 step for protecting your doors. Sealing strips can be placed 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 small amount 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 boost soundproofing.
Sealing helps keep cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain warm air isn’t leaking outside. Particularly with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s crucial to make sure that heat isn’t being lost through convection.
Placing a draft-excluding strip along the bottom of sliding doors or at the base of entryway doors creates 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 checking the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as tightly attached to the frame as possible. Over time, hinges can come loose 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 ensure damage isn’t caused 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, damage the screw and lead to worse problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be disturbed by the drier indoor air that comes with wintertime, but your doors certainly can be affected by it. Using a humidifier is a good way to keep an ideal moisture level in your indoor air. Choose a model 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 cause a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your house isn’t just helpful for your doors, but any other wooden furniture you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to the overall quality of your indoor air—which means less chance of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While there’s not a vitamin C supplement to give your doors a boost, these easy steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors stay in top condition for as long as possible. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your doorway? Are you planning for a door that can better defend against years of extreme weather? Reach out to the professionals at Pella of Petoskey to find the perfect fit for your home.