Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold days, winter months mean weather changes that impact every part of daily life in San Antonio. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or heater 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 appealing entry to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier keeping you from colder 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 efficiently, 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 more expensive energy bills and a generally uncomfortable home. Left ignored, 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 indications 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 the best working condition.
What To Look For:
When the air gets chillier, wooden doors, or those made with wood fibers, begin to contract. When temps get warmer, they expand.
Over a number of seasons, this expansion and contraction can take its toll, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since the majority of doors are made to exact door frame sizes, any amount of warping can result in a door catching on the frame. This can be identified in a door that seems more difficult to open and close. More often than not this starts at the bottom of the door—thanks to gravity.
Left alone, 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 severe, even with a small gap. Without repair, warping can result in larger gaps, more sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could create significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can cause changes to doors, changes in humidity can also have an impact on doors over the years. These humidity changes often come from indoors. Winter presents a seasonal challenge as home heating systems can cause a drop in indoor air humidity.
Over time, this humidity drop can lead to cracking in doors. Dry air will absorb moisture from any available source – including the moisture stored within your wood door – and this can cause unwanted 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 look. It will be especially evident in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint drains moisture due to reduced humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood below the surface also begins to expand and contract, the paint will be moved as well. Notably at joining sections of the door panel and frame, this could mean not only paint cracking but, if left ignored, paint chipping off.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a meaningful impact on your exterior doors. But knowing what causes the problems makes it easy to come up with ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the damaging impact of the elements.
Just like we might take vitamin C to fight against a winter bug, an ounce of prevention can aid in keeping your doors healthy during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and simple, ways to strengthen your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a frame the moment they’re installed, and weather takes its toll soon after. So even if your door was placed in the past year, it’s a good thought 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 stop cold air from squeezing through. These soft adhesive strips collapse a bit whenever the door is closed, adjusting to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also protecting the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to increase soundproofing.
Sealing helps keep cold air from passing through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to know that warm air isn’t escaping. Especially with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s important to make sure that warm air 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 escaping 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 getting 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 possible. Over time, hinges can get detatched from the frame due to warping. Taking a moment to tighten the hinges is a great preventative measure 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 and not a drill to protect your door. Twisting the screw further than necessary can strip the socket, destroy the screw and lead to worse problems with hinges later.
You may not be affected 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 indoor air. Choose one that allows you to adjust and maintain a chosen humidity level for best results. This will keep from creating too much moisture in the air, which can develop a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your space isn’t just important for your doors, but any other wooden pieces you may have. And maintaining indoor humidity can also increase the overall quality of your indoor air—which means less chance of health problems, like having that dreaded winter cold.
While there’s not a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these simple steps are virtually as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors remain in top condition for as long as possible. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your entryway? Are you looking for a door that can better stand up to years of weather extremes? Call the professionals at Pella of San Antonio to find the perfect fit for your home.