Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly temperatures, winter months bring weather changes that impact every part of daily life in North Carolina. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or thermostat setting to face the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the strongest defenses against the weather often goes overlooked: 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 steadfast barrier defending you from blustery weather that awaits on the other side. Just like any other part of our homes, it’s necessary 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 lead to higher energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left unchecked, 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 diagnose the symptoms 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 weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those created with wood fibers, begin to contract. After 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 amount of warping can lead to 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 begins at the bottom of the door—thanks to gravity.
Left unchecked, this warping can create gaps between the door and the frame that let in outside air. While these gaps often go unnoticed, the effect on your home temperature can be significant, even with a small gap. Without intervention, warping can result in larger gaps, frequent sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could lead to significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of changing temperatures can take its toll on doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over the years. These humidity changes often come from inside the home. Wintertime presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in indoor air humidity.
Over the years, this humidity drop can result in cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored within your wood door – and this can mean unwanted warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term usability effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous role in your door’s appearance. It will be especially obvious in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint gives up moisture due to low humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood under the surface also begins to do the same, the paint will shift as well. Notably 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 meaningful impact on your front doors. But learning 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 you might take vitamin C to defend against a winter bug, an ounce of prevention can go a long way toward keeping your doors in good shape during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and convenient, ways to prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a house right after they’re installed, and weather takes its toll soon after. So even if your door was installed in the past year, it’s a good time to be on the lookout for gaps around the sides of your doors.
Keeping gaps correctly sealed is an important step for protecting your doors. Sealing strips can be placed around the edges of the door. They are a good way to block gaps between your door and frame—helping prevent cold air from seeping in. These soft adhesive strips collapse a small amount whenever the door is closed, adjusting 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 stop cold air from passing through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to make sure warm air isn’t getting out. Notably 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 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 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 they’re able to be. 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 rather than a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary can strip the socket, damage the screw and lead to worse problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be disturbed by the dry indoor air that comes with wintertime, but your doors certainly can be affected by it. Using a humidifier is the best way to keep an appropriate moisture level in your space’s air. Choose a model that allows you to set and maintain a desired humidity level for best results. This will prevent 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 important for your doors, but any other wooden furniture you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also improve the overall quality of your room’s air—which means less possibility of health problems, like coming down with that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be a vitamin C supplement to give your doors a boost, 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 entryway? Are you searching for a door that can better defend against years of extreme weather? Contact the pros at Pella of North Carolina to find the perfect fit for your home.