Whether it be rain, snow, wind or just brisk temperatures, winter months come with weather changes that influence every part of daily life in Calgary. And while we might be quick to change our wardrobe or thermostat setting to meet the challenges brought by Mother Nature, one of the sturdiest defenses against the elements often goes unmentioned: our doors.
Your front door is more than just a inviting entry to your home or first impression of style for your visitors. It’s also a significant barrier protecting you from colder weather that waits on the other side. Just like any other part of our homes, it’s vital to make sure your door is not only operating properly, but also keeping your home safe from the cold during the winter months.
A door that doesn’t seal out the cold can lead to 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 far! Winter is a great time to check for the symptoms 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 weather gets chillier, wooden doors, or those constructed with wood fibers, begin to contract. After temperatures get warmer, they expand.
Over the years, this expansion and contraction can have an impact, causing doors to change their size and shape. Since most doors are made to exact door frame sizes, any amount of warping can end in 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 starts at the bottom of the door—thanks to gravity.
Left unrepaired, this warping can lead to gaps between the door and the frame that bring in outside air. While these gaps often go overlooked, the effect on your home temperature can be noticeable, even with a small gap. Without repair, warping can bring about larger gaps, more sticking and eventual issues with loosened hinges that could create structural door damage.
Just as the cycle of changing temperatures can take its toll on doors, changes in humidity can also effect doors over seasons. These humidity changes generally come from inside the house. Colder weather presents a specific 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 suck up moisture from any possible source – including the moisture stored in your wood door – and this can create unwanted warping and cracking.
Cracking won’t result in 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 obvious in the inner paneling and door frame. As paint loses moisture due to decreased 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 lead to not only paint cracking but, if left alone, paint chipping away.
Keeping doors healthy in winter
Winter weather can have a significant impact on your entry doors. But understanding what causes the problems 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 battle against a winter bug, an dose of prevention can go a long way toward keeping your doors healthy during the most severe winter weather. Here are some common, and easy, ways to prepare your doors for colder temperatures.
Doors start to settle into a home as soon as they’re installed, and weather takes its toll just as quickly. So even if your door was added in the past year, it’s a good time 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 sit around the edges of the door. They are a good way to protect against gaps between your door and frame—helping keep cold air from squeezing through. These soft adhesive strips collapse a small amount whenever the door is closed, pressing 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 getting out. Especially with sliding doors that take up more wall space than other doors, it’s vital to make sure that heat isn’t being lost through convection.
Adding a draft-excluding strip along the bottom of sliding doors or at the base of entryway doors provides a barrier against warm air leaving through the lower track or bottom of the door.
Loose hinges may seem like a issue only for homes with older doors. But if you feel 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 securely 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 adjust 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 might strip the socket, ruin the screw and lead to further problems with hinges in the future.
You may not be disturbed by the dehydrated indoor air that comes with winter, but your doors certainly can be impacted by it. Using a humidifier is the best way to keep an ideal moisture level in your space’s air. Choose one that allows you to adjust and maintain a desired humidity level for best results. This will keep from adding too much moisture in the air, which can develop a different set of problems.
A constant humidity level in your house 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 likelihood of health problems, like having that dreaded winter cold.
While isn’t a vitamin C supplement to maintain your door’s health, these basic steps are virtually as good when it comes to making sure your home’s doors are in top condition for years. Is it time to give your home an updated look in your doorway? Are you planning for a door that can better stand up to years of extreme weather? Contact the pros at Pella of Calgary to find the perfect fit for your home.