Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly temperatures, winter months bring weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Baltimore. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or thermostat setting to deal with the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the best defenses against the elements often goes unmentioned: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a welcoming entry to your home or first glimpse of style for your visitors. It’s also a sturdy barrier defending you from colder weather that awaits outside. Just like any other facet of our homes, it’s important 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 seal out the cold can lead to higher energy bills and a generally chilly home. Left unchecked, 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 indications of a door that might be failing, 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 weather 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 specific door frame sizes, any amount 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 begins at the bottom of the door—thanks to gravity.
Left unchecked, this warping can cause gaps between the door and the frame that allow in outside air. While these gaps often go overlooked, the effect on your home temperature can be significant, even with a small gap. Without intervention, warping can bring about larger gaps, more sticking and eventual issues with loosened hinges that could create significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over the years. These humidity changes generally come from inside the house. Winter presents a seasonal 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 take in moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored within your wood door – and this can mean troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term practical effects that can come with warping, but it can play a significant role in your door’s appeal. It will be especially evident in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint gives up moisture due to reduced humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood under the surface also begins to do the same, the paint will move as well. Especially at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could result in not only paint cracking but, if left unchecked, paint chipping from the door.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a significant impact on your entry doors. But learning what causes the issues 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 battle against a winter illness, an bit of prevention can aid in keeping your doors in good shape during the most severe winter weather. Here are some common, and simple, ways to brace your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a house the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll just as quickly. So even if your door was added 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 key to protecting your doors. Sealing strips can be added around the edges of the door. They are a good way to block gaps between your door and frame—helping keep cold air from squeezing through. 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 keep cold air from coming 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 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 produces a barrier against warm air leaving through the lower track or bottom of the door.
Loose hinges may seem like a concern only for homes with older doors. But if you can tell cold air is entering into your room, it’s worth taking a look at 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 loosen 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 instead of a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary might strip the socket, ruin the screw and lead to more severe problems with hinges down the road.
You may not be affected by the drier indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be impacted by it. Using a humidifier is a good way to keep an acceptable moisture level in your space’s air. Choose one that allows you to set and maintain a chosen 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 space isn’t just helpful for your doors, but any other wooden furniture you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also add to the overall quality of your home’s air—which means less likelihood of health problems, like having that dreaded winter cold.
While isn’t 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 stay in their best condition for the forseeable future. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your doorway? Are you searching for a door that can better withstand years of elements? Contact the pros at Pella of Baltimore to find the perfect fit for your home.