Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk days, winter months come with weather changes that play a role in every part of daily life in Washington DC. 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 best defenses against the elements often goes overlooked: 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 significant barrier keeping you from colder weather that lurks outside. Just like any other aspect of our homes, it’s vital to make sure your door is not only operating efficiently, but also keeping your home guarded from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t keep out the cold can lead to more expensive energy bills and a generally chilly home. Left unchecked, 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 diagnose the signs of a door that might be starting to fail, 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 made with wood fibers, begin to contract. When weather get warmer, they expand.
Over a number of seasons, this expansion and contraction can have an impact, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are crafted to specific door frame sizes, any bit of warping can result in a door catching on the frame. This can be observed in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. In many cases this begins at the bottom of the door—because of gravity.
Left alone, this warping can lead to gaps between the door and the frame that bring in outside air. While these gaps often go unnoticed, the effect on your home temperature can be significant, even with a small gap. Without repair, warping can result in larger gaps, more sticking and eventual issues with loosened hinges that could end in significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can take its toll on doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over the years. These humidity changes frequently come from inside the house. Wintertime presents a seasonal challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can cause cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any available source – including the moisture stored in your wood door – and this can cause unwanted warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t result in the long-term structural effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous role in your door’s look. It will be especially noticeable in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses moisture due to decreased humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood under the surface also begins to expand and contract, the paint will be moved as well. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could result in not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping from the door.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a significant impact on your exterior doors. But learning what causes the damage makes it easy to come up with ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the full force of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to battle against a winter cold, an ounce of prevention can help in keeping your doors sturdy 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 home right after they’re installed, and weather takes its toll just as quickly. So even if your door was placed 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 protect against gaps between your door and frame—helping keep cold air from seeping in. These soft adhesive strips collapse slightly 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 boost soundproofing.
Sealing helps prevent cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain warm air isn’t getting out. Notably with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s crucial to make sure that warmth isn’t being lost through convection.
Placing 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 problem only for homes with older doors. But if you feel cold air is leaking into your room, it’s worth investigating 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 adjust 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 rather than a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary can strip the socket, damage the screw and lead to further problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be affected by the drier indoor air that comes with winter, 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 humidifier that allows you to set and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will keep from adding 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 furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to the overall quality of your room’s air—which means less chance of health problems, like having that dreaded winter cold.
While isn’t a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these simple steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors remain in top condition for as long as possible. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your entryway? Are you searching for a door that can better stand up to years of weather extremes? Call the professionals at Pella of Washington DC to find the perfect fit for your home.