Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk temps, winter months bring weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Boston. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or heater setting to deal with the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the best defenses against the weather often goes unmentioned: 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 defending you from blustery weather that waits on the other side. Just like any other part of our homes, it’s important to make sure your door is not only operating efficiently, but also keeping your home protected from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t block out the cold can result in increased energy bills and a generally colder home. Left unchecked, some problems might lead to the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go to that extreme! 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 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 the majority of doors are cut to measured door frame sizes, any type of warping can lead to 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—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 result in larger gaps, more sticking and eventual issues with loosened hinges that could create structural door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also have an impact on doors over the years. These humidity changes generally come from inside the house. Wintertime presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any nearby 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 significant role in your door’s appeal. It will be especially noticeable in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint drains 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. Especially at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could lead to not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping off.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a notable impact on your entry 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 a person might take vitamin C to fight against a winter illness, an ounce of prevention can aid 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 right after they’re installed, and weather takes its toll soon after. So even if your door was added in the last year, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps properly sealed is an important step for protecting your doors. Sealing strips can be placed 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, 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 prevent cold air from passing through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain warm air isn’t leaking outside. Notably 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.
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 issue only for homes with older doors. But if you feel cold air is entering 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 they’re able to be. Over time, hinges can loosen from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to fix the hinges is a great preventative measure to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To ensure 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 can strip the socket, ruin the screw and lead to further problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be bothered by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be damaged by it. Using a humidifier is the best way to keep an acceptable moisture level in your indoor air. Choose a model that allows you to set and maintain a desired 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 space isn’t just good 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 possibility of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While there’s not a vitamin C supplement to give your doors a boost, these easy steps are almost as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors stay in their best condition for the forseeable future. 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? Call the team at Pella of Boston to find the perfect fit for your home.