Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly temps, winter months bring weather changes that play a role in every part of daily life in Champaign. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or heater setting to deal with the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the best defenses against the elements often goes unmentioned: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a inviting entryway to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier protecting you from colder weather that waits on the other side. Just like any other facet of our homes, it’s necessary to make sure your door is not only operating properly, but also keeping your home safe from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t keep out the cold can result in more expensive energy bills and a generally chilly home. Left forgotten, some problems might lead to the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that long! Winter is a great time to review 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 temperature gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. After weather get warmer, they expand.
Over the years, this expansion and contraction can have an impact, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since most doors are cut to specific door frame sizes, any amount of warping can result 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 alone, 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 severe, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can result in larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could end in severe door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over seasons. These humidity changes frequently come from indoors. Wintertime presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can result in cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any available source – including the moisture stored within your wood door – and this can create unwanted warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t bring the long-term practical effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous 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 low humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood under the surface also begins to do the same, the paint will be moved as well. Especially at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could lead to not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a significant impact on your entry doors. But learning what causes the issues makes it easy to find ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the damaging impact of the elements.
Just like you might take vitamin C to battle against a winter cold, an ounce of prevention can go a long way toward keeping your doors healthy during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and easy, ways to brace your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home right after they’re installed, and weather takes its toll soon after. So even if your door was added in the last year, it’s a good thought to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps properly sealed is an important step for protecting your doors. Sealing strips can be placed around the edges of the door. They are a good way to block gaps between your door and frame—helping keep 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 preserving the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to boost soundproofing.
Sealing helps stop cold air from passing 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 important 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 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 possible. Over time, hinges can loosen from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to fix the hinges is a great preventative measure to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To ensure damage isn’t caused by overdoing it, it’s important to tighten hinges slowly and manually. Use a screwdriver and not a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary might strip the socket, damage the screw and lead to further problems with hinges later.
You may not be affected by the drier indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be affected 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 preferred humidity level for best results. This will defend against creating too much moisture in the air, which can develop a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your home isn’t just helpful for your doors, but any other wooden furnishings 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 catching that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be 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 stay in top condition for the forseeable future. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your doorway? Are you searching for a door that can better withstand years of elements? Contact the pros at Pella of Champaign to find the perfect fit for your home.