Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk temperatures, winter months bring weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Northern Virginia. And while we might be quick to make adjustments to our wardrobe or heater setting to deal with the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the best defenses against the elements often goes overlooked: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a appealing entrance to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier defending you from colder weather that awaits outdoors. Just like any other aspect of our homes, it’s important 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 seal out the cold can lead to increased 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 that long! Winter is a great time to check for the indications 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 prime working condition.
What To Look For:
When the temperature gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. When temps get warmer, they expand.
Over a number of seasons, this expansion and contraction can have an impact, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are made to specific door frame sizes, any amount of warping can result in a door catching on the frame. This can be identified in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. In many cases this starts at the bottom of the door—because of gravity.
Left unrepaired, this warping can create gaps between the door and the frame that allow in outside air. While these gaps often go overlooked, the effect on your home temperature can be significant, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can result in larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could lead to structural door damage.
Just as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over seasons. These humidity changes generally come from inside the home. Colder weather presents a seasonal challenge as home heating systems can cause a decline in indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can cause cracking in doors. Dry air will take in moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored in your wood door – and this can cause undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term structural effects that can come with warping, but it can play a significant role in your door’s appearance. It will be especially noticeable in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint gives up 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 lead to not only paint cracking but, if left ignored, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a significant impact on your front doors. But understanding what causes the problems makes it easy to come up with ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the brunt of the elements.
Just like a person might take vitamin C to fight against a winter illness, an bit of prevention can help in keeping your doors healthy during the most severe winter weather. Here are some common, and convenient, ways to strengthen your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a house as soon as they’re installed, and weather takes its toll soon after. So even if your door was installed 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 key to protecting your doors. Sealing strips can sit around the edges of the door. They are a good way to close gaps between your door and frame—helping stop cold air from squeezing through. These soft adhesive strips collapse slightly 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 keep cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to make sure warm air isn’t escaping. Especially 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 creates a barrier against warm air leaving 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 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 loosen 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 be certain 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 might strip the socket, ruin the screw and lead to worse problems with hinges down the road.
You may not be disturbed by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with winter, but your doors certainly can be affected by it. Using a humidifier is a good way to keep an ideal moisture level in your home’s air. Choose one that allows you to set and maintain a chosen humidity level for best results. This will prevent adding 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 good for your doors, but any other wooden furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also improve the overall quality of your room’s air—which means less chance of health problems, like having that dreaded winter cold.
While there’s not a vitamin C supplement to keep your doors healthy, these easy steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors remain in their best condition for years. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your front door? Are you planning for a door that can better withstand years of weather extremes? Reach out to the pros at Pella of Northern Virginia to find the perfect fit for your home.