Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly days, winter months come with weather changes that play a role in every part of daily life in Mankato. And while we might be quick to make adjustments to our wardrobe or heater setting to meet the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the strongest defenses against the weather often goes unmentioned: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a inviting entrance to your home or first glimpse of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier keeping you from blustery weather that awaits outdoors. Just like any other part of our homes, it’s vital to make sure your door is not only operating efficiently, but also keeping your home protected from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t seal out the cold can lead to increased energy bills and a generally chilly home. Left unchecked, some problems might lead to the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go to that extreme! Winter is a great time to diagnose 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 top working condition.
What To Look For:
When the weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. As temperatures 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 crafted to specific door frame sizes, any type 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 begins at the bottom of the door—due to gravity.
Left unchecked, this warping can create gaps between the door and the frame that allow in outside air. While these gaps often go unseen, the effect on your home temperature can be significant, even with a small gap. Without intervention, warping can result in larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual issues with loosened hinges that could end in significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of changing temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over time. These humidity changes frequently come from inside the home. Colder weather presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can cause cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any available source – including the moisture stored within your wood door – and this can mean undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t bring the long-term practical effects that can come with warping, but it can play a serious role in your door’s look. It will be especially obvious in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint drains moisture due to reduced humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood under the surface also begins to expand and contract, the paint will shift as well. Particularly at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could result in not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Colder weather can have a notable impact on your entry doors. But learning what causes the problems makes it easy to find ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the brunt of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to defend against a winter illness, an dose of prevention can help in keeping your doors healthy during the most severe winter weather. Here are some common, and easy, ways to prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a frame as soon as they’re installed, and weather takes its toll immediately. 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 effectively sealed is an important step for protecting your doors. Sealing strips can be added 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 seeping in. 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 seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to make sure warm air isn’t getting out. 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.
Putting a draft-excluding strip along the bottom of sliding doors or at the base of entryway doors produces a barrier against warm air leaking 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 taking a look at the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as securely 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 action to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To be certain damage isn’t caused 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, ruin the screw and lead to worse problems with hinges down the road.
You may not be bothered by the drier indoor air that comes with the cold season, 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 set and maintain a desired humidity level for best results. This will keep from putting too much moisture in the air, which can cause a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your space isn’t just good for your doors, but any other wooden furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to the overall quality of your room’s air—which means less chance of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While isn’t a vitamin C supplement to give your doors a boost, these basic steps are virtually as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in their best 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 withstand years of extreme weather? Reach out to the professionals at Pella of Mankato to find the perfect fit for your home.