Doors and Windows May Be Vulnerable to Cold, Humidity, and More
Winter has come, a bit behind schedule but here at last. Snowball fights, ice skating, and hot chocolate are great, but the cold weather brings both good and bad to the city—and it has an undeniable effect on people’s windows and doors. From swelling and warping to condensation and drafts, here are some of the most common ways in which the winter weather affects doors and windows:
Shrinking, Warping, and Bowing
For certain materials—especially wood—both temperature and humidity can wreak havoc upon their structural integrity. Wooden window frames, doors, and door frames can shrink in extreme cold, and in extreme humidity (or lack thereof) they can begin to warp or bow unfavourably. For this reason, wood must be frequently treated with paint or sealer. PVC and aluminum windows do not experience the same degree of distortion, making them more popular choices today than wood.
The main reason why weather stripping must be frequently replaced is that ice tends to form in the open spaces between doors and windows and the frames they are installed in. When warm, moisture-rich air escapes through these small openings, it freezes on contact with the cold outside air. This can make it difficult to open a window without cracking the weather stripping, which in turn will increase the buildup of ice. This can also make doors difficult to open and close.
Doors and windows include latches, handles, hinges, and other mechanisms that make them work—and these can become damaged or jammed by ice or cold-weather stress. Casement and awning windows are particularly vulnerable as they require a more complex opening mechanism than their sliding counterparts.
This is a tricky thing because condensation is not always as bad as it appears to be. In fact, condensation on your window glazing during the winter is often a sign that your windows have a good level of energy efficiency. It occurs because the warm and humid air in your home is unable to escape through your windows, which is exactly what you want from a good window. To reduce the appearance of condensation, just simply reduce the humidity in your home with a dehumidifier, by using your bathroom’s exhaust fan when taking a shower, and by properly venting your home. If you find condensation developing between the panes of a double- or triple-glazed window, then you likely have a leak in the window, and should seek repair.
Windows and doors that are old, poorly fitted, or poorly insulated are a major cause of drafts in most homes. Installing weather stripping can help, but it many cases a new door or window may be absolutely necessary.