Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold temps, winter months come with weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Cape Cod. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or thermostat setting to meet the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the strongest defenses against the cold often goes unmentioned: 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 significant barrier protecting you from colder weather that waits outside. Just like any other aspect of our homes, it’s vital to make sure your door is not only operating properly, but also keeping your home protected from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t seal out the cold can lead to higher energy bills and a generally colder home. Left forgotten, some problems might result in the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go that long! Winter is a great time to diagnose the signs of a door that might be showing signs of damage, as well as the steps you can take to make sure your door is in top working condition.
What To Look For:
When the weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. As temperatures get warmer, they expand.
Over the years, this expansion and contraction can take its toll, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since most doors are crafted to measured door frame sizes, any bit of warping can end 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—thanks to gravity.
Left unchecked, this warping can lead to gaps between the door and the frame that let 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 problems with loosened hinges that could end in severe door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over seasons. These humidity changes often come from indoors. Wintertime presents a seasonal challenge as home heating systems can cause a decrease indoor air humidity.
Over the years, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will take in moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored within your wood door – and this can mean undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t bring the long-term usability effects that can come with warping, but it can play a serious 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 under the surface also begins expanding and contracting, the paint will move as well. Particularly at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could lead to not only paint cracking but, if left unchecked, paint chipping from the door.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Seasonal weather can have a significant impact on your front doors. But understanding what causes the damage makes it easy to find ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the damaging impact of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to defend against a winter illness, an dose of prevention can aid in keeping your doors sturdy during the most extreme winter weather. Here are some common, and easy, ways to prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home as soon as they’re installed, and weather takes its toll just as quickly. So even if your door was placed in the last year, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps properly sealed is an important key to 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 small amount 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 prevent cold air from coming 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 crucial to make sure that warmth isn’t being lost through convection.
Placing a draft-excluding strip along the bottom of sliding doors or at the base of entryway doors creates 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 tightly 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 step 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 rather than 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 bothered by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with winter, but your doors certainly can be affected by it. Using a humidifier is an effective way to keep an ideal moisture level in your space’s air. Choose a humidifier that allows you to determine and maintain a chosen humidity level for best results. This will prevent adding too much moisture in the air, which can cause a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your house isn’t just important 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 having that dreaded winter cold.
While isn’t a vitamin C supplement to keep your doors healthy, 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 planning for a door that can better withstand years of weather extremes? Reach out to the professionals at Pella of Cape Cod to find the perfect fit for your home.