Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk temps, winter months mean weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Gaithersburg. 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 best defenses against the elements often goes overlooked: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a appealing entrance to your home or first glimpse of style for your visitors. It’s also a significant barrier defending you from colder weather that awaits on the other side. Just like any other part of our homes, it’s necessary 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 result in higher 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 that far! Winter is a great time to review 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 temperature gets chillier, wooden doors, or those created with wood fibers, begin to contract. After temperatures 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 cut to specific door frame sizes, any type of warping can result in a door catching on the frame. This can be seen 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—due to gravity.
Left unchecked, this warping can lead to gaps between the door and the frame that bring in outside air. While these gaps often go overlooked, the effect on your home temperature can be significant, even with a small gap. Without intervention, warping can lead to larger gaps, increased sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could create structural door damage.
Just as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over seasons. These humidity changes frequently come from inside the house. Winter presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a decrease indoor air humidity.
Over the years, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will absorb moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored in your wood door – and this can create troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t bring the long-term practical 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 gives up moisture due to decreased humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood under 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 unchecked, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Colder weather can have a significant impact on your front doors. But knowing what causes the problems makes it easy to find ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the brunt of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to defend against a winter bug, an bit of prevention can aid in keeping your doors in good shape during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and convenient, ways to strengthen your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a frame the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll immediately. So even if your door was added in the prior year, it’s a good idea 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 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 a bit whenever the door is closed, pressing to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also protecting 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 escaping. Particularly with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s important to make sure that heat isn’t being lost through convection.
Putting a draft-excluding strip along the bottom of sliding doors or at the base of entryway doors creates 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 feel cold air is getting into your room, it’s worth checking the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as securely attached to the frame as possible. Over time, hinges can get detatched 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 make sure damage isn’t done 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 can strip the socket, ruin the screw and lead to further problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be bothered by the dry indoor air that comes with winter, but your doors certainly can be impacted by it. Using a humidifier is a good way to keep an acceptable moisture level in your home’s air. Choose a model that allows you to adjust and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will defend against 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 helpful for your doors, but any other wooden pieces you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also improve 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 easy steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors stay in peak condition for the forseeable future. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your front door? Are you searching for a door that can better stand up to years of extreme weather? Call the professionals at Pella of Gaithersburg to find the perfect fit for your home.