Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly temperatures, winter months come with weather changes that play a role in every part of daily life in Newport. 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 best defenses against the cold often goes unmentioned: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a welcoming entry to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier protecting you from windy weather that lurks on the other side. Just like any other part of our homes, it’s important 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 keep out the cold can mean more expensive energy bills and a generally uncomfortable 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 symptoms 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 air gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. When temps get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can have an impact, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are cut to measured door frame sizes, any amount of warping can end in a door catching on the frame. This can be identified in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. Usually this can first be seen at the bottom of the door—due to gravity.
Left alone, this warping can cause 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 attention, warping can bring about larger gaps, increased sticking and eventual issues with loosened hinges that could end in severe door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also have an impact on 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 decline in indoor air humidity.
Over time, this humidity drop can result in cracking in doors. Dry air will absorb moisture from any available source – including the moisture stored in your wood door – and this can create undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t result in the long-term practical effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous role in your door’s look. 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 under the surface also begins expanding and contracting, the paint will move as well. Particularly 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
Colder weather can have a meaningful impact on your front doors. But understanding what causes the problems makes it easy to find ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the full force of the elements.
Just like you might take vitamin C to fight against a winter illness, an bit of prevention can go a long way toward keeping your doors sturdy during the most severe winter weather. Here are some common, and simple, ways to strengthen your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home the moment 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 thought to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps properly sealed is an important part of 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 leaking. These soft adhesive strips collapse slightly 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 prevent cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to make sure warm air isn’t leaking outside. Notably 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.
Putting a draft-excluding strip along the bottom of sliding doors or at the base of entryway doors creates a barrier against warm air escaping 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 can tell cold air is entering into your room, it’s worth taking a look at the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as tightly 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 action to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To make sure 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 might strip the socket, ruin the screw and lead to further problems with hinges later.
You may not be bothered by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with wintertime, but your doors certainly can be damaged by it. Using a humidifier is the best way to keep an acceptable moisture level in your indoor air. Choose a model that allows you to adjust and maintain a desired humidity level for best results. This will prevent adding too much moisture in the air, which can develop 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 likelihood 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 virtually as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in their best condition for years. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your doorway? Are you searching for a door that can better withstand years of extreme weather? Contact the team at Pella of Newport to find the perfect fit for your home.