Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold temps, winter months mean weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Kingston. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or thermostat setting to meet 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 inviting entryway to your home or first glimpse of style for your visitors. It’s also a significant barrier defending you from blustery weather that awaits on the other side. Just like any other part of our homes, it’s necessary to make sure your door is not only operating well, but also keeping your home protected from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t block out the cold can mean increased energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left forgotten, some problems might result in the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that far! Winter is a great time to review the symptoms 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 temperature gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. As weather get warmer, they expand.
Over the years, this expansion and contraction can take its toll, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since most doors are made to specific door frame sizes, any type of warping can lead to a door catching on the frame. This can be seen 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 bring in outside air. While these gaps often go overlooked, the effect on your home temperature can be noticeable, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can bring about larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could lead to severe door damage.
Just as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over seasons. These humidity changes generally 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 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 cause undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term usability effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous role in your door’s appearance. It will be especially obvious in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses moisture due to decreased humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood below the surface also begins expanding and contracting, the paint will shift as well. Particularly at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could lead to not only paint cracking but, if left unchecked, paint chipping from the door.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Colder weather can have a notable impact on your front doors. But understanding 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 you might take vitamin C to battle against a winter bug, an ounce of prevention can aid in keeping your doors healthy during the most severe winter weather. Here are some common, and simple, ways to strengthen 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 placed in the last 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 block gaps between your door and frame—helping stop cold air from seeping in. These soft adhesive strips collapse slightly 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 improve soundproofing.
Sealing helps keep cold air from passing through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to know that 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 warm air isn’t being lost through convection.
Adding 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 problem only for homes with older doors. But if you feel cold air is entering 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 possible. Over time, hinges can get detatched from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to fix the hinges is a great preventative step 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 rather than a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary could strip the socket, destroy the screw and lead to further problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be disturbed by the dry indoor air that comes with winter, but your doors certainly can be impacted by it. Using a humidifier is an effective way to keep an ideal moisture level in your home’s air. Choose one that allows you to determine and maintain a desired 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 space isn’t just helpful for your doors, but any other wooden pieces 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 having that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these easy steps are virtually as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in their best condition for the forseeable future. 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 elements? Call the professionals at Pella of Kingston to find the perfect fit for your home.