Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk temps, winter months mean weather changes that play a role in every part of daily life in Denver. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or thermostat setting to face the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the strongest defenses against the elements often goes ignored: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a welcoming entry to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a sturdy barrier protecting you from windy weather that waits outside. Just like any other part of our homes, it’s vital 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 block out the cold can mean more expensive energy bills and a generally chilly home. Left ignored, 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 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 prime working condition.
What To Look For:
When the temperature gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. When temperatures get warmer, they expand.
Over the years, this expansion and contraction can take its toll, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since the majority of doors are cut to measured door frame sizes, any bit of warping can end in a door catching on the frame. This can be seen in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. Usually this begins at the bottom of the door—thanks 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 overlooked, the effect on your home temperature can be significant, even with a small gap. Without intervention, warping can bring about larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could end in structural door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over the years. These humidity changes often come from inside the house. Wintertime presents a seasonal challenge as home heating systems can cause a decline in indoor air humidity.
Over the years, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will take in moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored in your wood door – and this can mean troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term usability effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous role in your door’s appeal. It will be especially evident in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses 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 be moved as well. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could mean not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping off.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a notable impact on your front doors. But learning 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 we might take vitamin C to battle against a winter cold, an ounce of prevention can help in keeping your doors sturdy during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and easy, ways to strengthen your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a house right after they’re installed, and weather takes its toll immediately. So even if your door was placed in the last 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 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 keep cold air from leaking. These soft adhesive strips collapse a bit whenever the door is closed, adjusting to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also maintaining the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to boost soundproofing.
Sealing helps stop cold air from coming through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain warm air isn’t getting out. Notably with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s vital 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 produces a barrier against warm air leaking 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 entering into your room, it’s worth taking a look at the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as tightly attached to the frame as possible. Over time, hinges can get detatched from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to adjust the hinges is a great preventative step to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To ensure damage isn’t done 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 more severe problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be disturbed 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 appropriate moisture level in your space’s air. Choose a model that allows you to adjust and maintain a chosen 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 space isn’t just important for your doors, but any other wooden furniture you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to the overall quality of your indoor air—which means less possibility 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 virtually as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors stay in top 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 stand up to years of extreme weather? Reach out to the team at Pella of Denver to find the perfect fit for your home.