Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold days, winter months bring weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Nashville. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or home comfort setting to face the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the best defenses against the weather often goes ignored: 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 defending you from colder weather that lurks outdoors. Just like any other facet of our homes, it’s vital to make sure your door is not only operating properly, but also keeping your home guarded from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t block out the cold can mean more expensive 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 check for 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 the best working condition.
What To Look For:
When the air gets chillier, wooden doors, or those created with wood fibers, begin to contract. When 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 cut to specific door frame sizes, any type 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. In many cases this begins at the bottom of the door—because of gravity.
Left unchecked, 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 result in larger gaps, increased sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could lead to significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can take its toll on doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over seasons. These humidity changes often come from inside the house. Winter presents a seasonal challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can cause troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t result in the long-term structural 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 under the surface also begins to do the same, the paint will shift 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 away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Seasonal weather can have a significant impact on your front doors. But learning what causes the damage makes it easy to identify ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the full force of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to fight against a winter illness, an ounce of prevention can aid in keeping your doors healthy during the most extreme winter weather. Here are some common, and easy, ways to strengthen your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a house right after 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 idea 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 keep cold air from seeping in. These soft adhesive strips collapse a bit 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 stop cold air from coming 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 crucial 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 creates a barrier against warm air leaving 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 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 securely attached to the frame as they’re able to be. Over time, hinges can get detatched from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to tighten the hinges is a great preventative measure to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To be certain damage isn’t created by overdoing it, it’s important to tighten hinges slowly and manually. Use a screwdriver instead of a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary can strip the socket, ruin the screw and lead to more severe problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be bothered by the dry indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be affected by it. Using a humidifier is a good way to keep an ideal moisture level in your home’s air. Choose a model that allows you to adjust and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will keep from putting 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 important for your doors, but any other wooden furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to the overall quality of your indoor air—which means less likelihood of health problems, like coming down with that dreaded winter cold.
While isn’t a vitamin C supplement to give your doors a boost, these easy steps are almost as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors remain in their best condition for the forseeable future. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your entryway? Are you searching for a door that can better stand up to years of weather extremes? Contact the team at Pella of Nashville to find the perfect fit for your home.