Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk temps, winter months mean weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Tucson. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or home comfort setting to meet 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 entryway to your home or reflection of style for your visitors. It’s also a steadfast barrier protecting you from windy weather that awaits outside. Just like any other aspect of our homes, it’s important 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 keep out the cold can mean increased energy bills and a generally chilly home. Left forgotten, 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 review the signs 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 top working condition.
What To Look For:
When the weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those created with wood fibers, begin to contract. When temperatures get warmer, they expand.
Over time, this expansion and contraction can start to show, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since many doors are cut to measured door frame sizes, any type 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. In many cases this can first be seen at the bottom of the door—because of gravity.
Left alone, this warping can lead to gaps between the door and the frame that bring in outside air. While these gaps often go unseen, the effect on your home temperature can be noticeable, even with a small gap. Without repair, warping can lead to larger gaps, increased sticking and eventual problems with loosened hinges that could create severe door damage.
Just as the cycle of varying temperatures can take its toll on doors, changes in humidity can also have an impact on doors over time. These humidity changes often come from inside the house. Winter presents a unique 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 possible source – including the moisture stored inside your wood door – and this can create troublesome warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t have the long-term usability effects that can come with warping, but it can play a significant role in your door’s appearance. 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 beneath the surface also begins expanding and contracting, the paint will shift 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 away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a meaningful impact on your front doors. But learning what causes the damage makes it easy to come up with ways to make sure your doors don’t suffer the full force of the elements.
Just like a person might take vitamin C to fight against a winter bug, an ounce of prevention can aid in keeping your doors in good shape during the most severe 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 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 close gaps between your door and frame—helping stop 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 maintaining the look of the door. As a bonus, they also help to improve soundproofing.
Sealing helps prevent cold air from seeping through gaps in the doorway, but it’s also important to be certain 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 heat 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 leaking 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 taking a look at the connections of doors of any age to make sure they’re as firmly attached to the frame as possible. Over time, hinges can come loose 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 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 could strip the socket, destroy the screw and lead to more severe problems with hinges later.
You may not be bothered by the drier indoor air that comes with winter, but your doors certainly can be damaged by it. Using a humidifier is an effective way to keep an ideal moisture level in your space’s air. Choose a model that allows you to determine and maintain a preferred humidity level for best results. This will prevent putting too much moisture in the air, which can lead to 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 improve the overall quality of your room’s air—which means less possibility of health problems, like having that dreaded winter cold.
While there might not be a vitamin C supplement to give your doors a boost, these easy steps are almost as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in top condition for as long as possible. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your front door? Are you planning for a door that can better defend against years of elements? Reach out to the pros at Pella of Tucson to find the perfect fit for your home.