Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk temperatures, winter months come with weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Overland Park. And while we might be quick to make adjustments to our wardrobe or heater setting to meet the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the weather often goes overlooked: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a appealing entry to your home or first impression of style for your visitors. It’s also a sturdy barrier keeping you from windy weather that lurks outdoors. Just like any other aspect of our homes, it’s necessary to make sure your door is not only operating properly, but also keeping your home safe from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t seal out the cold can result in higher energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left forgotten, some problems might end with the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go to that extreme! 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 the best working condition.
What To Look For:
When the temperature gets chillier, wooden doors, or those constructed with wood fibers, begin to contract. When temperatures get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can have an impact, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since most doors are cut to exact 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. Usually this can first be seen at the bottom of the door—thanks to gravity.
Left unrepaired, this warping can cause 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 noticeable, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can lead to larger gaps, more sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could end in severe door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can take its toll on doors, changes in humidity can also have an impact on doors over time. These humidity changes frequently come from inside the home. Winter presents a seasonal 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 absorb moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored in your wood door – and this can cause undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t bring the long-term usability effects that can come with warping, but it can play a significant role in your door’s appearance. It will be especially noticeable in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint gives up moisture due to decreased humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood below the surface also begins expanding and contracting, the paint will shift as well. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could lead to not only paint cracking but, if left ignored, paint chipping from the door.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Seasonal weather can have a meaningful impact on your entry doors. But knowing what causes the problems makes it easy to find ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the damaging impact of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to fight against a winter illness, an ounce 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 house the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll just as quickly. So even if your door was placed in the past 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 step for protecting your doors. Sealing strips can sit around the edges of the door. They are a good way to close 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, pressing to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also maintaining the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to increase soundproofing.
Sealing helps keep cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain 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 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 issue only for homes with older doors. But if you can tell 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 tightly attached to the frame as possible. Over time, hinges can loosen from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to fix 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 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 later.
You may not be disturbed by the drier indoor air that comes with winter, but your doors certainly can be damaged by it. Using a humidifier is the best way to keep an ideal moisture level in your home’s air. Choose a model that allows you to adjust and maintain a chosen humidity level for best results. This will defend against adding 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 improve the overall quality of your room’s air—which means less chance of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While isn’t a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these easy steps are virtually 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 entryway? Are you planning for a door that can better withstand years of weather extremes? Reach out to the pros at Pella of Overland Park to find the perfect fit for your home.