Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold temperatures, winter months mean weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Plattsburgh. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or home comfort setting to deal with 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 appealing entry to your home or first impression of style for your visitors. It’s also a sturdy barrier keeping you from windy weather that lurks outside. 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 block out the cold can lead to more expensive energy bills and a generally colder 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 symptoms of a door that might be failing, 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. When 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 made to measured door frame sizes, any bit 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. In many cases this can first be seen at the bottom of the door—thanks to gravity.
Left unrepaired, this warping can lead to 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 severe, even with a small gap. Without intervention, warping can bring about larger gaps, more sticking and eventual concerns with loosened hinges that could create structural door damage.
Just as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also have an impact on doors over the years. These humidity changes generally come from inside the home. Wintertime presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a decrease indoor air humidity.
Over the years, this humidity drop can cause cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored in your wood door – and this can cause troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have 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 beneath the surface also begins to expand and contract, the paint will shift as well. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could result in not only paint cracking but, if left ignored, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Colder weather can have a notable impact on your entry doors. But knowing what causes the issues makes it easy to identify ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the damaging impact of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to fight against a winter bug, 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 prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home as soon as they’re installed, and weather takes its toll immediately. 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 properly sealed is an important key to protecting your doors. Sealing strips can be added around the edges of the door. They are a good way to close gaps between your door and frame—helping keep cold air from seeping in. These soft adhesive strips collapse a bit whenever the door is closed, adjusting to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also protecting the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to increase soundproofing.
Sealing helps prevent cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to know that warm air isn’t leaking outside. Especially with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s important 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 provides a barrier against warm air escaping 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 can tell 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 can be. Over time, hinges can loosen from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to adjust the hinges is a great preventative measure 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 might strip the socket, destroy the screw and lead to worse problems with hinges later.
You may not be bothered by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be impacted 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 determine and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will defend against putting too much moisture in the air, which can develop 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 improve the overall quality of your home’s air—which means less possibility of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While there’s not a vitamin C supplement to keep your doors healthy, these basic steps are almost as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in peak condition for the forseeable future. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your entryway? Are you planning for a door that can better defend against years of weather extremes? Call the pros at Pella of Plattsburgh to find the perfect fit for your home.