Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk temperatures, winter months bring weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Indianapolis. 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 strongest defenses against the cold often goes ignored: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a welcoming entry to your home or first glimpse of style for your visitors. It’s also a significant barrier protecting you from windy weather that lurks outside. Just like any other part of our homes, it’s necessary to make sure your door is not only operating properly, but also keeping your home safe from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t keep out the cold can lead to higher 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 that far! Winter is a great time to check for the indications of a door that might be starting to fail, as well as the steps you can take to make sure your door is in top working condition.
What To Look For:
When the temperature gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. As weather 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 the majority of doors are made to specific door frame sizes, any type of warping can result in a door catching on the frame. This can be identified in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. Usually this starts at the bottom of the door—due to 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 noticeable, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can lead to larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could lead to severe door damage.
Just as the cycle of changing temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over the years. These humidity changes frequently come from indoors. Colder weather presents a specific challenge as home heating systems can cause a decline in indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can result in cracking in doors. Dry air will take in moisture from any available source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can mean troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t result in the long-term usability effects that can come with warping, but it can play a serious 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. Particularly at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could result in not only paint cracking but, if left ignored, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Seasonal weather can have a meaningful impact on your front doors. But knowing what causes the issues makes it easy to identify ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the brunt of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to battle against a winter bug, an dose of prevention can help in keeping your doors in good shape 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 house the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll soon after. So even if your door was installed in the past 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 step for 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 prevent cold air from squeezing through. These soft adhesive strips collapse a bit 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.
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 crucial to make sure that warm air isn’t being lost through convection.
Adding a draft-excluding strip along the bottom of sliding doors or at the base of entryway doors provides a barrier against warm air leaking through the lower track or bottom of the door.
Loose hinges may seem like a problem only for homes with older doors. But if you notice cold air is getting 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 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 caused 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, destroy the screw and lead to more severe problems with hinges down the road.
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 an effective way to keep an appropriate moisture level in your space’s air. Choose a model that allows you to adjust and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will prevent putting too much moisture in the air, which can develop a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your house isn’t just helpful for your doors, but any other wooden furniture you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also improve the overall quality of your indoor air—which means less possibility of health problems, like coming down with that dreaded winter cold.
While there’s not a vitamin C supplement to keep your doors healthy, these easy steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors stay in top condition for years. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your entryway? Are you planning for a door that can better defend against years of extreme weather? Reach out to the pros at Pella of Indianapolis to find the perfect fit for your home.