Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly temperatures, winter months bring weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Grand Rapids. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or home comfort setting to face the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the best defenses against the weather often goes overlooked: 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 sturdy barrier defending you from colder weather that lurks outside. Just like any other aspect of our homes, it’s important 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 block out the cold can result in increased energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left forgotten, some problems might lead to 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 temperature gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. As weather get warmer, they expand.
Over a number of seasons, this expansion and contraction can have an impact, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since the majority of doors are cut to measured 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 can first be seen at the bottom of the door—thanks to gravity.
Left unrepaired, this warping can lead to 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 repair, warping can bring about larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual concerns with loosened hinges that could lead to significant 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 frequently come from inside the home. Colder weather presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a decline in indoor air humidity.
Over time, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored inside 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 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 below the surface also begins expanding and contracting, the paint will shift 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 off.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Seasonal weather can have a significant impact on your exterior doors. But knowing what causes the issues makes it easy to find ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the brunt of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to defend against a winter cold, an dose of prevention can aid in keeping your doors healthy during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and simple, ways to brace your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a frame as soon as they’re installed, and weather takes its toll immediately. So even if your door was installed in the last year, it’s a good thought to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps correctly sealed is an important part of protecting your doors. Sealing strips can be added 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 a small amount 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 increase soundproofing.
Sealing helps keep cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to know that warm air isn’t leaking outside. Particularly 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 feel cold air is entering into your room, it’s worth checking the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as tightly attached to the frame as possible. Over time, hinges can come loose 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 make sure damage isn’t created 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 can strip the socket, destroy the screw and lead to more severe problems with hinges later.
You may not be disturbed by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with wintertime, but your doors certainly can be affected by it. Using a humidifier is a good way to keep an ideal moisture level in your space’s air. Choose a model 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 lead to a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your home isn’t just helpful for your doors, but any other wooden furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also increase the overall quality of your home’s air—which means less chance of health problems, like having that dreaded winter cold.
While there’s not a vitamin C supplement to give your doors a boost, these easy steps are nearly as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors remain in their best condition for as long as possible. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your doorway? Are you searching for a door that can better stand up to years of weather extremes? Call the pros at Pella of Grand Rapids to find the perfect fit for your home.