Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly temperatures, winter months mean weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Lafayette. 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 sturdiest defenses against the cold often goes unmentioned: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a inviting entryway to your home or first impression of style for your visitors. It’s also a significant barrier defending you from blustery weather that waits outdoors. Just like any other aspect of our homes, it’s necessary 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 mean more expensive energy bills and a generally chilly home. Left unchecked, 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 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 air gets chillier, wooden doors, or those created with wood fibers, begin to contract. When weather get warmer, they expand.
Over a number of seasons, this expansion and contraction can take its toll, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are crafted to exact door frame sizes, any amount of warping can end in a door catching on the frame. This can be identified 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 unchecked, 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 severe, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can result in larger gaps, increased sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could lead to severe door damage.
Just as the cycle of changing temperatures can take its toll on doors, changes in humidity can also have an impact on doors over the years. These humidity changes generally come from indoors. Colder weather presents a specific challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can mean unwanted 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 look. It will be especially evident 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 do the same, the paint will be moved as well. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could lead to not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping from the door.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a significant impact on your entry doors. But knowing what causes the damage makes it easy to find 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 cold, an dose of prevention can help in keeping your doors sturdy during the most extreme winter weather. Here are some common, and convenient, ways to prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll just as quickly. So even if your door was added in the prior 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 placed around the edges of the door. They are a good way to close gaps between your door and frame—helping prevent cold air from squeezing through. 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 boost soundproofing.
Sealing helps keep cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to know that warm air isn’t escaping. Notably 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.
Adding a draft-excluding strip along the bottom of sliding doors or at the base of entryway doors creates 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 can tell cold air is leaking into your room, it’s worth investigating the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as securely attached to the frame as can be. Over time, hinges can come loose 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 can strip the socket, ruin the screw and lead to further problems with hinges later.
You may not be bothered by the drier indoor air that comes with wintertime, 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 a model that allows you to set and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will keep from creating too much moisture in the air, which can develop a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your house isn’t just important for your doors, but any other wooden furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also increase the overall quality of your indoor air—which means less likelihood of health problems, like coming down with that dreaded winter cold.
While isn’t a vitamin C supplement to give your doors a boost, these basic steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in top condition for the forseeable future. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your entryway? Are you searching for a door that can better defend against years of elements? Reach out to the professionals at Pella of Lafayette to find the perfect fit for your home.