Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk temperatures, winter months come with weather changes that impact every part of daily life in St. Paul. And while we might be quick to make adjustments to our wardrobe or home comfort setting to deal with the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the best defenses against the weather often goes unmentioned: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a welcoming entryway to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a significant 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 properly, but also keeping your home safe from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t block out the cold can mean increased energy bills and a generally chilly home. Left unchecked, some problems might lead to the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go to that extreme! Winter is a great time to review the indications of a door that might be starting to fail, 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 start to show, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since most doors are made to specific door frame sizes, any type 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. Usually this starts at the bottom of the door—thanks to gravity.
Left alone, this warping can create gaps between the door and the frame that allow 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 bring about larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could create structural door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also have an impact on doors over seasons. These humidity changes generally come from inside the home. Wintertime presents a specific challenge as home heating systems can cause a decline in indoor air humidity.
Over the years, this humidity drop can cause cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can mean undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t bring 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 obvious in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses moisture due to low humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood below the surface also begins to expand and contract, the paint will shift as well. Especially at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could lead to not only paint cracking but, if left unchecked, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Colder weather can have a significant impact on your entry doors. But understanding what causes the problems makes it easy to find 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 bug, an bit of prevention can go a long way toward keeping your doors healthy during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and convenient, ways to brace your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll immediately. So even if your door was placed in the last 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 sit around the edges of the door. They are a good way to block gaps between your door and frame—helping stop cold air from squeezing through. These soft adhesive strips collapse a bit whenever the door is closed, pressing to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also preserving the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to improve soundproofing.
Sealing helps prevent cold air from coming through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain warm air isn’t escaping. Notably with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s important to make sure that warm air 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 escaping 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 checking the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as securely 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 ensure damage isn’t caused 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 could strip the socket, destroy the screw and lead to further problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be disturbed by the drier indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be affected by it. Using a humidifier is an effective way to keep an acceptable moisture level in your space’s air. Choose a humidifier that allows you to adjust and maintain a chosen humidity level for best results. This will keep from putting too much moisture in the air, which can cause a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your home isn’t just good for your doors, but any other wooden furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also improve the overall quality of your indoor air—which means less possibility of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these basic steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors stay in top condition for years. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your front door? Are you looking for a door that can better stand up to years of extreme weather? Reach out to the team at Pella of St. Paul to find the perfect fit for your home.