Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk temps, winter months come with weather changes that play a role in every part of daily life in Kalamazoo. And while we might be quick to make adjustments to our wardrobe or heater setting to face the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the strongest defenses against the elements often goes unmentioned: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a welcoming entryway to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier defending you from colder weather that awaits 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 safe from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t seal out the cold can result in more expensive energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left forgotten, some problems might result in the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that long! Winter is a great time to diagnose the signs 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 the best working condition.
What To Look For:
When the air gets chillier, wooden doors, or those constructed with wood fibers, begin to contract. When temps get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can have an impact, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are crafted to measured door frame sizes, any type of warping can end in a door catching on the frame. This can be observed in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. Usually this begins at the bottom of the door—due to gravity.
Left unchecked, this warping can lead to 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 intervention, warping can lead to larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual concerns with loosened hinges that could lead to structural door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying 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. Winter presents a seasonal 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 suck up moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can mean undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term structural effects that can come with warping, but it can play a significant role in your door’s appearance. It will be especially noticeable in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses moisture due to low humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood below the surface also begins to expand and contract, the paint will move as well. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could result in not only paint cracking but, if left unchecked, paint chipping off.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a significant impact on your front doors. But understanding what causes the issues makes it easy to identify 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 bit of prevention can help in keeping your doors healthy during the most extreme winter weather. Here are some common, and simple, ways to strengthen your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home as soon as they’re installed, and weather takes its toll soon after. So even if your door was placed 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 part of 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 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 preserving the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to improve soundproofing.
Sealing helps stop cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain warm air isn’t escaping. Notably 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 produces a barrier against warm air escaping 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 getting into your room, it’s worth investigating 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 fix the hinges is a great preventative action 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 rather than a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary might strip the socket, destroy the screw and lead to worse problems with hinges later.
You may not be disturbed by the dry indoor air that comes with wintertime, but your doors certainly can be affected by it. Using a humidifier is an effective way to keep an acceptable moisture level in your home’s air. Choose a humidifier that allows you to determine and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will prevent adding too much moisture in the air, which can cause a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your house isn’t just helpful for your doors, but any other wooden pieces you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to the overall quality of your room’s air—which means less chance 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 easy steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in their best condition for as long as possible. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your doorway? Are you looking for a door that can better defend against years of weather extremes? Contact the team at Pella of Kalamazoo to find the perfect fit for your home.