Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold temps, winter months mean weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Charlotte. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or heater setting to meet the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the weather often goes overlooked: 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 keeping you from blustery weather that lurks outdoors. 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 guarded from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t keep out the cold can result in increased 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 diagnose 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 top working condition.
What To Look For:
When the weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. After temps get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can take its toll, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since the majority of doors are crafted to specific door frame sizes, any amount 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. More often than not this can first be seen at the bottom of the door—because of gravity.
Left unchecked, 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 noticeable, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can result in larger gaps, increased sticking and eventual issues with loosened hinges that could lead to significant 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 generally come from inside the house. Wintertime presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a decrease indoor air humidity.
Over time, this humidity drop can result in cracking in doors. Dry air will absorb moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored in your wood door – and this can mean undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t result in the long-term usability effects that can come with warping, but it can play a serious role in your door’s appeal. It will be especially noticeable 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 expand and contract, the paint will shift as well. Particularly at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could mean not only paint cracking but, if left ignored, paint chipping off.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Seasonal weather can have a meaningful impact on your entry doors. But learning what causes the damage 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 battle against a winter cold, an dose of prevention can aid in keeping your doors in good shape during the most extreme winter weather. Here are some common, and easy, ways to prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a frame as soon as they’re installed, and weather takes its toll soon after. So even if your door was placed in the prior year, it’s a good thought to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps effectively sealed is an important part of protecting your doors. Sealing strips can sit around the edges of the door. They are a good way to protect against gaps between your door and frame—helping prevent cold air from seeping in. These soft adhesive strips collapse a bit whenever the door is closed, pressing to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also preserving the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to improve soundproofing.
Sealing helps stop cold air from coming through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to make sure warm air isn’t leaking outside. Particularly with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s vital 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 produces 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 notice cold air is leaking into your room, it’s worth checking the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as tightly attached to the frame as possible. Over time, hinges can come loose from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to tighten the hinges is a great preventative measure 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 instead of a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary might strip the socket, ruin the screw and lead to more severe problems with hinges down the road.
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 the best way to keep an acceptable moisture level in your space’s air. Choose a model that allows you to determine and maintain a chosen humidity level for best results. This will keep from 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 important for your doors, but any other wooden pieces you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to the overall quality of your home’s air—which means less chance of health problems, like having that dreaded winter cold.
While isn’t a vitamin C supplement to keep your doors healthy, these simple steps are nearly 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 looking for a door that can better withstand years of weather extremes? Call the professionals at Pella of Charlotte to find the perfect fit for your home.