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 Des Moines. And while we might be quick to make adjustments to our wardrobe or heater setting to meet the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the cold often goes ignored: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a welcoming entryway to your home or first glimpse of style for your visitors. It’s also a significant barrier protecting you from windy weather that lurks on the other side. Just like any other facet 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 block out the cold can lead to more expensive energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left ignored, 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 check for the signs of a door that might be failing, 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 weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those created with wood fibers, begin to contract. After weather get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can have an impact, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since most doors are made to measured door frame sizes, any bit of warping can end in a door catching on the frame. This can be identified in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. In many cases this starts at the bottom of the door—due to gravity.
Left alone, 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 noticeable, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can lead to larger gaps, increased sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could end in significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over seasons. These humidity changes often come from inside the home. Winter presents a seasonal challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in 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 in your wood door – and this can cause unwanted warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t bring the long-term structural effects that can come with warping, but it can play a serious role in your door’s appeal. It will be especially evident in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint gives up moisture due to decreased 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. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could lead to not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a significant impact on your entry doors. But knowing what causes the damage makes it easy to come up with ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the damaging impact of the elements.
Just like you might take vitamin C to fight against a winter cold, an bit of prevention can go a long way toward keeping your doors healthy during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and convenient, ways to brace your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home right after they’re installed, and weather takes its toll soon after. 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 properly 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 protect against gaps between your door and frame—helping stop cold air from squeezing through. These soft adhesive strips collapse slightly whenever the door is closed, adjusting to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also protecting the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to improve soundproofing.
Sealing helps stop cold air from passing through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to know that warm air isn’t getting out. Especially with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s vital 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 leaving 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 getting into your room, it’s worth checking the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as firmly 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 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 can strip the socket, destroy the screw and lead to further problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be affected by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with winter, but your doors certainly can be affected by it. Using a humidifier is the best way to keep an ideal moisture level in your indoor air. Choose a model that allows you to adjust and maintain a desired humidity level for best results. This will prevent putting too much moisture in the air, which can cause a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your house isn’t just good for your doors, but any other wooden pieces you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to 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’s not a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these easy steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors stay in top condition for as long as possible. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your entryway? Are you planning for a door that can better withstand years of weather extremes? Reach out to the team at Pella of Des Moines to find the perfect fit for your home.