Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold days, winter months come with weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Minneapolis. And while we might be quick to make adjustments to our wardrobe or thermostat setting to deal with the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the elements often goes overlooked: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a appealing entrance to your home or first impression of style for your visitors. It’s also a sturdy barrier defending you from blustery weather that awaits outside. Just like any other facet 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 keep out the cold can result in more expensive energy bills and a generally chilly home. Left forgotten, some problems might result in the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that long! Winter is a great time to check for the symptoms of a door that might be failing, as well as the steps you can take to make sure your door is in prime working condition.
What To Look For:
When the air gets chillier, wooden doors, or those created with wood fibers, begin to contract. After temperatures get warmer, they expand.
Over the years, this expansion and contraction can start to show, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are cut to measured door frame sizes, any type of warping can end 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—thanks to gravity.
Left unrepaired, this warping can create gaps between the door and the frame that bring in outside air. While these gaps often go unseen, the effect on your home temperature can be significant, even with a small gap. Without repair, warping can result in larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual concerns with loosened hinges that could end in significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of changing temperatures can take its toll on doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over time. These humidity changes often come from inside the home. Colder weather presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a decrease indoor air humidity.
Over time, 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 cause troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term practical effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous role in your door’s appearance. It will be especially noticeable in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses moisture due to low humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood under 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 mean not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping off.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Seasonal weather can have a meaningful impact on your entry doors. But understanding 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 defend against a winter cold, an ounce of prevention can help in keeping your doors sturdy during the most extreme winter weather. Here are some common, and simple, ways to brace your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home right after they’re installed, and weather takes its toll immediately. So even if your door was placed in the past 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 key to 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 small amount 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 increase soundproofing.
Sealing helps stop cold air from coming through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain warm air isn’t leaking outside. Especially 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.
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 concern only for homes with older doors. But if you notice cold air is leaking 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 can be. Over time, hinges can get detatched from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to fix the hinges is a great preventative action to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To be certain 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, ruin 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 wintertime, but your doors certainly can be impacted by it. Using a humidifier is a good way to keep an appropriate moisture level in your indoor air. Choose a humidifier that allows you to adjust and maintain a desired humidity level for best results. This will defend against creating too much moisture in the air, which can develop a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your home isn’t just good for your doors, but any other wooden pieces you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also increase the overall quality of your home’s air—which means less possibility of health problems, like coming down with that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be a vitamin C supplement to keep your doors healthy, these basic steps are almost 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? Contact the professionals at Pella of Minneapolis to find the perfect fit for your home.