Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk days, winter months come with weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Birmingham. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or heater setting to deal with the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the cold often goes overlooked: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a inviting entrance to your home or first glimpse of style for your visitors. It’s also a sturdy barrier protecting you from colder weather that waits on the other side. Just like any other aspect of our homes, it’s necessary to make sure your door is not only operating efficiently, 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 higher energy bills and a generally colder home. Left forgotten, 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 signs of a door that might be failing, as well as the steps you can take to make sure your door is in prime working condition.
What To Look For:
When the weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those constructed with wood fibers, begin to contract. As temps get warmer, they expand.
Over a number of seasons, this expansion and contraction can take its toll, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are made to specific door frame sizes, any bit of warping can result in a door catching on the frame. This can be observed in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. In many cases this can first be seen at the bottom of the door—because of gravity.
Left unchecked, this warping can cause gaps between the door and the frame that allow in outside air. While these gaps often go unnoticed, the effect on your home temperature can be noticeable, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can lead to larger gaps, more sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could create significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over time. These humidity changes often come from indoors. Winter presents a specific 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 take in moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can mean undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t bring the long-term structural effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous 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 reduced humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood below the surface also begins to do the same, the paint will be moved as well. Especially 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
Winter weather can have a notable impact on your exterior doors. But knowing 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 you might take vitamin C to battle against a winter bug, an ounce of prevention can go a long way toward keeping your doors healthy during the most extreme winter weather. Here are some common, and easy, ways to strengthen your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a house the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll immediately. So even if your door was added in the last year, it’s a good time 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 be placed around the edges of the door. They are a good way to block gaps between your door and frame—helping keep cold air from leaking. These soft adhesive strips collapse a bit whenever the door is closed, pressing to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also maintaining the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to improve soundproofing.
Sealing helps prevent cold air from coming through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to know that warm air isn’t getting out. Particularly 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.
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.
Loose hinges may seem like a issue only for homes with older doors. But if you notice 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 securely attached to the frame as they’re able to be. Over time, hinges can get detatched from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to adjust the hinges is a great preventative action 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, destroy the screw and lead to further problems with hinges down the road.
You may not be bothered by the drier indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be damaged by it. Using a humidifier is an effective way to keep an ideal moisture level in your indoor air. Choose one 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 develop a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your space isn’t just good for your doors, but any other wooden furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also increase the overall quality of your room’s air—which means less chance of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While there’s not a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these basic steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors remain in peak condition for as long as possible. 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 weather extremes? Reach out to the professionals at Pella of Birmingham to find the perfect fit for your home.