Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly days, winter months come with weather changes that play a role in every part of daily life in Traverse City. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or home comfort setting to deal with 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 welcoming entry to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a significant barrier defending you from windy weather that awaits on the other side. Just like any other facet of our homes, it’s important 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 block out the cold can mean higher 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 far! Winter is a great time to diagnose the signs of a door that might be starting to fail, as well as the steps you can take to make sure your door is in prime working condition.
What To Look For:
When the air gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. After weather get warmer, they expand.
Over a number of seasons, this expansion and contraction can start to show, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are crafted to specific door frame sizes, any bit 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—due to gravity.
Left alone, this warping can lead to gaps between the door and the frame that bring in outside air. While these gaps often go unnoticed, the effect on your home temperature can be noticeable, even with a small gap. Without repair, warping can bring about larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could end in significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of changing temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over the years. These humidity changes generally come from inside the home. Winter presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a decrease indoor air humidity.
Over time, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will take in moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can cause 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 obvious 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. Especially at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could mean not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Seasonal weather can have a meaningful impact on your exterior doors. But knowing what causes the issues makes it easy to identify ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the full force of the elements.
Just like you might take vitamin C to fight against a winter illness, an ounce of prevention can aid in keeping your doors sturdy during the most severe winter weather. Here are some common, and easy, 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 past 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 sit around the edges of the door. They are a good way to block gaps between your door and frame—helping prevent cold air from leaking. These soft adhesive strips collapse a small amount 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 increase soundproofing.
Sealing helps prevent cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to make sure warm air isn’t getting out. Especially with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s crucial 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 provides a barrier against warm air leaving through the lower track or bottom of the door.
Loose hinges may seem like a issue only for homes with older doors. But if you notice cold air is getting 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 can be. Over time, hinges can come loose from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to adjust the hinges is a great preventative measure to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To be certain 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, ruin the screw and lead to worse problems with hinges down the road.
You may not be affected by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be affected by it. Using a humidifier is the best way to keep an appropriate moisture level in your indoor air. Choose a model that allows you to set and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will prevent adding too much moisture in the air, which can develop a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your house isn’t just helpful for your doors, but any other wooden furniture you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to the overall quality of your home’s air—which means less possibility of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While isn’t a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these simple steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors stay in peak condition for as long as possible. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your entryway? Are you searching for a door that can better stand up to years of weather extremes? Call the professionals at Pella of Traverse City to find the perfect fit for your home.