Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold temps, winter months come with weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Portsmouth. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or home comfort setting to meet the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the strongest defenses against the elements often goes unmentioned: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a welcoming entrance to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier protecting you from windy weather that lurks outdoors. Just like any other facet of our homes, it’s vital to make sure your door is not only operating efficiently, but also keeping your home guarded from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t keep out the cold can mean higher energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left forgotten, some problems might end with the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go to that extreme! Winter is a great time to check for the indications 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 temperature gets chillier, wooden doors, or those constructed with wood fibers, begin to contract. After temps get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can have an impact, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since the majority of doors are cut to measured door frame sizes, any amount 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. More often than not 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 unseen, the effect on your home temperature can be severe, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can result in larger gaps, more sticking and eventual issues with loosened hinges that could end in significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also have an impact on doors over the years. These humidity changes generally come from indoors. Wintertime presents a seasonal challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in indoor air humidity.
Over time, this humidity drop can result in cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored within your wood door – and this can create troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t bring the long-term structural effects that can come with warping, but it can play a significant role in your door’s appeal. It will be especially obvious in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses 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. Particularly at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could lead to not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping off.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a meaningful impact on your entry 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 cold, an dose of prevention can aid in keeping your doors healthy during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and easy, ways to brace your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a frame as soon as they’re installed, and weather takes its toll just as quickly. So even if your door was added in the last year, it’s a good idea 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 prevent cold air from leaking. These soft adhesive strips collapse slightly whenever the door is closed, squeezing 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 make sure warm air isn’t getting out. Notably 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 provides a barrier against warm air leaking through the lower track or bottom of the door.
Loose hinges may seem like a concern only for homes with older doors. But if you notice 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 they’re able to 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 make sure damage isn’t done 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 can strip the socket, damage the screw and lead to worse problems with hinges down the road.
You may not be affected by the dry indoor air that comes with winter, but your doors certainly can be affected by it. Using a humidifier is an effective way to keep an acceptable moisture level in your home’s air. Choose a humidifier that allows you to adjust and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will keep from adding too much moisture in the air, which can cause a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your home isn’t just good for your doors, but any other wooden pieces you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also improve the overall quality of your indoor air—which means less chance of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be a vitamin C supplement to give your doors a boost, these easy steps are almost as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in peak condition for years. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your doorway? Are you looking for a door that can better stand up to years of weather extremes? Call the pros at Pella of Portsmouth to find the perfect fit for your home.