Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk temps, winter months bring weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Falls Church. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or thermostat setting to deal with the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the cold often goes unmentioned: 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 significant barrier protecting you from colder weather that lurks outside. 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 guarded from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t keep out the cold can mean higher energy bills and a generally chilly home. Left unchecked, some problems might end with the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that far! Winter is a great time to diagnose the signs 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 the best working condition.
What To Look For:
When the weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those created with wood fibers, begin to contract. After temps get warmer, they expand.
Over the years, this expansion and contraction can take its toll, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are made to exact door frame sizes, any bit 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. More often than not 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 unnoticed, the effect on your home temperature can be noticeable, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can result in larger gaps, increased sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could lead to severe door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over the years. These humidity changes frequently come from inside the home. Wintertime presents a seasonal challenge as home heating systems can cause a decrease indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can cause undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term usability effects that can come with warping, but it can play a serious role in your door’s appeal. It will be especially obvious in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint drains moisture due to reduced humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood under the surface also begins to do the same, the paint will shift as well. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could mean 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 front doors. But understanding what causes the damage makes it easy to identify ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the brunt of the elements.
Just like you might take vitamin C to fight against a winter cold, an bit of prevention can help in keeping your doors in good shape during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and simple, ways to prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a frame the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll just as quickly. So even if your door was added in the past year, it’s a good time 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 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 leaking. These soft adhesive strips collapse slightly whenever the door is closed, pressing to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also maintaining 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 know that warm air isn’t escaping. Particularly 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 provides a barrier against warm air escaping 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 feel 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 loosen from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to adjust 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 might strip the socket, damage the screw and lead to worse problems with hinges down the road.
You may not be affected by the dry indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be impacted by it. Using a humidifier is the best way to keep an ideal 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 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 good for your doors, but any other wooden furniture you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also increase the overall quality of your room’s air—which means less chance of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be a vitamin C supplement to keep your doors healthy, these easy steps are almost as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in top condition for years. 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? Reach out to the pros at Pella of Falls Church to find the perfect fit for your home.