Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just chilly days, winter months come with weather changes that impact every part of daily life in El Paso. And while we might be quick to make adjustments to our wardrobe or thermostat setting to face the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the weather often goes unmentioned: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a inviting entryway to your home or first glimpse of style for your visitors. It’s also a significant barrier defending you from windy weather that lurks outdoors. Just like any other aspect of our homes, it’s important to make sure your door is not only operating well, but also keeping your home guarded from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t seal out the cold can result in increased energy bills and a generally chilly home. Left unchecked, some problems might end with the need for a new replacement door. Don’t let things go to that extreme! 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 prime working condition.
What To Look For:
When the temperature gets chillier, wooden doors, or those constructed with wood fibers, begin to contract. When temperatures 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 most doors are made to specific 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—because of gravity.
Left alone, 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, more sticking and eventual concerns with loosened hinges that could create structural door damage.
Just as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also create problems with doors over time. These humidity changes generally come from inside the home. Winter presents a unique challenge as home heating systems can cause a decrease indoor air humidity.
Over time, this humidity drop can cause cracking in doors. Dry air will suck up moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can mean undesirable warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term structural effects that can come with warping, but it can play a tremendous role in your door’s look. It will be especially obvious 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 expanding and contracting, the paint will be moved as well. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could result in not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping off.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Colder weather can have a meaningful impact on your exterior doors. But knowing what causes the issues makes it easy to identify ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the brunt of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to fight against a winter illness, an bit of prevention can go a long way toward keeping your doors sturdy 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 as soon as they’re installed, and weather takes its toll immediately. So even if your door was placed in the last year, it’s a good time 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 be placed around the edges of the door. They are a good way to block gaps between your door and frame—helping stop cold air from squeezing through. These soft adhesive strips collapse slightly whenever the door is closed, adjusting to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also maintaining the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to boost soundproofing.
Sealing helps keep cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to make sure warm air isn’t getting out. Especially 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 concern only for homes with older doors. But if you notice cold air is getting 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 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 action to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To make sure damage isn’t caused by overdoing it, it’s important to tighten hinges slowly and manually. Use a screwdriver and not a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary might strip the socket, ruin the screw and lead to further problems with hinges down the road.
You may not be disturbed by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with the cold season, but your doors certainly can be damaged 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 determine and maintain a chosen humidity level for best results. This will keep from putting too much moisture in the air, which can cause a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your space 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 room’s air—which means less chance of health problems, like coming down with that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be a vitamin C supplement to keep your doors healthy, these easy steps are virtually as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in their best condition for as long as possible. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your doorway? Are you looking for a door that can better stand up to years of elements? Reach out to the pros at Pella of El Paso to find the perfect fit for your home.