Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly temperatures, winter months bring weather changes that play a role in every part of daily life in Albuquerque. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or home comfort setting to meet the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the strongest defenses against the weather often goes unmentioned: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a inviting entrance to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a sturdy barrier defending you from colder weather that awaits outside. 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 safe from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t block out the cold can result in higher energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left ignored, some problems might result in the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that far! Winter is a great time to review 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 top working condition.
What To Look For:
When the air gets chillier, wooden doors, or those created with wood fibers, begin to contract. After temps get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can start to show, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since most doors are made to measured door frame sizes, any amount of warping can result in a door catching on the frame. This can be identified in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. In many cases this can first be seen at the bottom of the door—because of gravity.
Left unrepaired, 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 noticeable, even with a small gap. Without intervention, warping can lead to larger gaps, more sticking and eventual concerns with loosened hinges that could end in structural door damage.
Just as the cycle of changing temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over time. These humidity changes generally come from inside the house. Colder weather presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a decline in indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will take in moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored inside 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 appearance. It will be especially evident in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses moisture due to decreased humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood below the surface also begins expanding and contracting, the paint will be moved as well. Particularly at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could mean not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Seasonal weather can have a significant impact on your front doors. But learning 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 a person might take vitamin C to defend against a winter illness, an bit of prevention can aid in keeping your doors in good shape 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 frame the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll soon after. So even if your door was installed in the prior year, it’s a good thought to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps effectively sealed is an important part of protecting your doors. Sealing strips can be placed around the edges of the door. They are a good way to close gaps between your door and frame—helping keep cold air from leaking. 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 keep cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to make sure warm air isn’t getting out. 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.
Putting a draft-excluding strip along the bottom of sliding doors or at the base of entryway doors provides a barrier against warm air leaking 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 tightly attached to the frame as they’re able to be. Over time, hinges can come loose from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to adjust the hinges is a great preventative step to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To be certain damage isn’t caused 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, ruin the screw and lead to more severe problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be affected by the dry indoor air that comes with winter, but your doors certainly can be damaged by it. Using a humidifier is a good way to keep an appropriate moisture level in your space’s air. Choose a model that allows you to adjust and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will defend against creating too much moisture in the air, which can lead to a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your house isn’t just helpful 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 likelihood of health problems, like having 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 remain in peak condition for years. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your entryway? Are you looking for a door that can better stand up to years of extreme weather? Call the team at Pella of Albuquerque to find the perfect fit for your home.