Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk temperatures, winter months bring weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Baton Rouge. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or home comfort setting to deal with 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 welcoming entrance to your home or first glimpse of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier keeping you from windy weather that waits on the other side. 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 safe from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t seal out the cold can mean increased energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left forgotten, some problems might result in the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go to that extreme! Winter is a great time to diagnose the signs 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 created with wood fibers, begin to contract. As 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 exact door frame sizes, any bit of warping can result in a door catching on the frame. This can be seen in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. More often than not this starts at the bottom of the door—due to gravity.
Left unrepaired, this warping can create gaps between the door and the frame that bring in outside air. While these gaps often go unnoticed, the effect on your home temperature can be significant, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can bring about larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual concerns with loosened hinges that could lead to severe door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over seasons. These humidity changes generally come from inside the house. Wintertime presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can cause cracking in doors. Dry air will take in moisture from any available source – including the moisture stored in your wood door – and this can create undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t bring the long-term usability effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous role in your door’s look. It will be especially noticeable in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses moisture due to low humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood beneath the surface also begins to expand and contract, the paint will shift as well. Particularly 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
Colder weather can have a notable impact on your front doors. But understanding what causes the problems makes it easy to come up with ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the brunt of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to battle against a winter illness, an ounce of prevention can go a long way toward keeping your doors sturdy during the most extreme winter weather. Here are some common, and simple, 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 immediately. 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 correctly sealed is an important key to protecting your doors. Sealing strips can be placed around the edges of the door. They are a good way to protect against gaps between your door and frame—helping prevent 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 maintaining the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to increase soundproofing.
Sealing helps stop cold air from passing 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 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 issue only for homes with older doors. But if you notice cold air is entering into your room, it’s worth investigating 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 adjust the hinges is a great preventative measure to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To make sure damage isn’t done 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 might strip the socket, ruin the screw and lead to worse problems with hinges down the road.
You may not be disturbed by the drier indoor air that comes with winter, but your doors certainly can be affected by it. Using a humidifier is the best way to keep an appropriate moisture level in your home’s air. Choose one that allows you to set and maintain a desired humidity level for best results. This will prevent putting 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 furnishings you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to the overall quality of your home’s air—which means less chance of health problems, like coming down with that dreaded winter cold.
While there’s not a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these easy steps are almost as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in peak condition for years. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your doorway? Are you looking for a door that can better withstand years of extreme weather? Reach out to the professionals at Pella of Baton Rouge to find the perfect fit for your home.