Protecting Your Doors from Winter Weather
Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly temps, winter months bring weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Eau Claire. And while we might be quick to make adjustments to our wardrobe or home comfort setting to face the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the best defenses against the elements often goes overlooked: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a appealing entryway to your home or first impression of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier protecting you from blustery weather that lurks outside. Just like any other aspect of our homes, it’s important 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 seal out the cold can mean more expensive energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left unchecked, some problems might end with the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that long! Winter is a great time to diagnose the indications 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 created with wood fibers, begin to contract. When temperatures 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 most doors are made to exact 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—because of gravity.
Left unchecked, this warping can create gaps between the door and the frame that let 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 bring about larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual concerns with loosened hinges that could create significant door damage.
CrackingJust as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over time. These humidity changes often come from inside the house. Colder weather presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a decline in 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 within your wood door – and this can mean troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t result in the long-term practical effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous role in your door’s appearance. It will be especially obvious in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses moisture due to low humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood beneath the surface also begins expanding and contracting, the paint will shift as well. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could mean not only paint cracking but, if left ignored, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a significant impact on your entry doors. But knowing what causes the problems makes it easy to come up with ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the full force of the elements.
Just like a person might take vitamin C to battle against a winter bug, an bit of prevention can help in keeping your doors in good shape during the most severe winter weather. Here are some common, and convenient, ways to brace your doors for colder temperatures.
SealingDoors start to settle into a home the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll immediately. 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 correctly sealed is an important key to protecting your doors. Sealing strips can be added around the edges of the door. They are a good way to close gaps between your door and frame—helping stop cold air from leaking. These soft adhesive strips collapse a small amount 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 increase soundproofing.
InsulatingSealing helps stop cold air from passing through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain warm air isn’t leaking outside. Especially with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s vital to make sure that warmth isn’t being lost through convection.
Placing 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.
TighteningLoose 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 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 loosen from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to tighten the hinges is a great preventative step 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, ruin the screw and lead to further problems with hinges in the future.
Increasing humidityYou may not be affected by the drier indoor air that comes with wintertime, but your doors certainly can be damaged by it. Using a humidifier is a good way to keep an appropriate moisture level in your space’s air. Choose a humidifier that allows you to set and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will keep from putting 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 improve the overall quality of your home’s air—which means less likelihood of health problems, like coming down with that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be 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 are in peak condition for years. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your front door? Are you searching for a door that can better defend against years of elements? Contact the professionals at Pella of Eau Claire to find the perfect fit for your home.