Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just cold days, winter months mean weather changes that impact every part of daily life in Salt Lake City. And while we might be quick to adjust our wardrobe or heater setting to face the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the best defenses against the cold often goes overlooked: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a appealing entrance to your home or first impression of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier protecting you from blustery weather that lurks outside. Just like any other part 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 block out the cold can mean increased energy bills and a generally colder home. Left ignored, 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 check for the symptoms of a door that might be failing, 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 created with wood fibers, begin to contract. After temps get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can have an impact, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are crafted to exact door frame sizes, any bit 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 begins at the bottom of the door—due to gravity.
Left unrepaired, this warping can cause gaps between the door and the frame that allow in outside air. While these gaps often go unnoticed, the effect on your home temperature can be significant, even with a small gap. Without attention, warping can lead to larger gaps, increased sticking and eventual issues with loosened hinges that could end in significant door damage.
Just as the cycle of fluctuating temperatures can damage doors, changes in humidity can also have an impact on doors over time. These humidity changes often come from inside the house. Colder weather presents a specific challenge as home heating systems can cause a decline in indoor air humidity.
Over the seasons, this humidity drop can cause cracking in doors. Dry air will take in moisture from any nearby source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can create troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t bring 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 noticeable in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses moisture due to reduced humidity, it also loses its flexibility. If the wood beneath the surface also begins expanding and contracting, 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 away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Colder weather can have a significant impact on your front doors. But learning what causes the issues makes it easy to identify ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the damaging impact of the elements.
Just like a person might take vitamin C to fight against a winter bug, an ounce of prevention can go a long way toward keeping your doors healthy during the most intense winter weather. Here are some common, and easy, ways to brace your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home as soon as 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 idea 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 added around the edges of the door. They are a good way to block gaps between your door and frame—helping prevent cold air from leaking. These soft adhesive strips collapse slightly whenever the door is closed, squeezing to fill any gaps. Strips provide support while also protecting the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to improve soundproofing.
Sealing helps prevent cold air from coming through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain warm air isn’t leaking outside. Especially with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s vital 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 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 entering into your room, it’s worth investigating the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as firmly 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 action to take before the temperatures change with each season.
To be certain damage isn’t caused 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, damage the screw and lead to worse problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be affected by the dry indoor air that comes with winter, but your doors certainly can be impacted by it. Using a humidifier is a good way to keep an appropriate moisture level in your home’s air. Choose a model that allows you to adjust and maintain a desired humidity level for best results. This will defend against 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 good 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 possibility of health problems, like catching that dreaded winter cold.
While there’s not a vitamin C supplement to keep your doors healthy, these easy 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 extreme weather? Call the team at Pella of Salt Lake City to find the perfect fit for your home.