Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold temps, winter months bring weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Haverhill. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or home comfort setting to deal with the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the best defenses against the weather often goes overlooked: 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 sturdy barrier protecting you from colder weather that lurks outdoors. Just like any other facet of our homes, it’s necessary 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 lead to increased energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left ignored, some problems might lead to the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that long! 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 weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those created with wood fibers, begin to contract. When weather get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can start to show, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are made 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. More often than not this begins at the bottom of the door—due to gravity.
Left unrepaired, this warping can create 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 severe, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can lead to larger gaps, increased sticking and eventual concerns with loosened hinges that could create structural door damage.
Just as the cycle of changing temperatures can take its toll on doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over the years. These humidity changes often come from inside the house. Winter presents a specific challenge as home heating systems can cause a decrease indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can result in cracking in doors. Dry air will take in moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored within your wood door – and this can mean unwanted warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t result in the long-term structural effects that can come with warping, but it can play a serious role in your door’s appearance. It will be especially evident in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses moisture due to low 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. 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
Winter weather can have a significant impact on your front doors. But learning what causes the problems makes it easy to identify 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 bit of prevention can go a long way toward keeping your doors in good shape during the most severe winter weather. Here are some common, and simple, ways to prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a frame right after they’re installed, and weather takes its toll soon after. So even if your door was installed in the prior year, it’s a good time to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps correctly sealed is an important step for protecting your doors. Sealing strips can sit around the edges of the door. They are a good way to block gaps between your door and frame—helping prevent cold air from seeping in. 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 stop cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to know that warm air isn’t escaping. Notably with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s important to make sure that warm air 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 can tell cold air is getting into your room, it’s worth investigating 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 get detatched from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to tighten 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 could strip the socket, destroy the screw and lead to worse problems with hinges later.
You may not be bothered by the dry 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 home’s air. Choose a humidifier 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 lead to a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your space isn’t just important for your doors, but any other wooden furniture you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also improve 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 basic 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 front door? Are you looking for a door that can better stand up to years of extreme weather? Reach out to the team at Pella of Haverhill to find the perfect fit for your home.