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A door that’s frozen shut during the winter is not just an inconvenience—it can also pose a safety hazard. Unfortunately, this happens a little too often, and we understand how that can be frustrating. The great thing is that you can avoid this problem by applying these handy tips that we've uncovered.
What to do to prevent your house door from freezing shut:
- Check your weatherstripping
- Realign your door to your frame
- Attach a door sweep
- Use an insulating lubricant over the threshold
- Adjust the heating to flow to your door
- Decrease the home’s humidity level
Keeping your home safe and comfortable during unpredictable weather patterns can be challenging, and sometimes other parts of the door can freeze in place. To learn about what to do with a frozen door and how to avoid it, keep reading below.
Why do doors freeze shut in the winter?
Winter months can compromise your home security since locks can gather in excess moisture, which can eventually turn to ice. It gets worse if your indoor space is highly humid. The moisture can escape through the gaps, condense on your door locks, and freeze.
Due to the temperature’s sudden drop, the door itself can also shrink. This change can make the door embed itself into the frame, locking it into place.
How to Prevent House Doors from Freezing Shut
It's just as they say--prevention is better than a cure. Here are some of the things you can do to make your door withstand freezing temperatures and avoid inconveniences.
Check your weatherstripping
Weatherstripping, when installed correctly, should prevent air leaks from the outside or inside of your home. If it is faulty, your indoor heating could escape and melt the ice around your door, which can refreeze and fully attach itself onto the nooks of your door.
Ineffective weatherstripping can also cost you higher utility bills, so it is best to check it every change of the season.
Realign your door to your frame
Your door may have small gaps due to the sudden shrinking of your door. These gaps will allow water and icicles to condense around your door hardware and eventually freeze.
Adjust your hardware and seal your door properly to ensure that all edges are covered.
Attach a door sweep
A door sweep is a strong metal attached across the bottom portion of a door. This effectively seals the small gap between the floor and your door, protecting it against moisture and helping you save on heating costs.
The door sweep has a seal made of neoprene, silicone, and a nylon brush and is installed in a way that it sticks to the threshold without touching your flooring.
Use an insulating lubricant over the threshold
An unfrozen door may be convenient, but it is useless if you cannot slide it smoothly across the surface. In this case, use an insulating lubricant so it will smoothly swing or open without compromising insulation.
A WD-40 is a household standard recommendation during the winter, but be mindful of the possible dust particles that can accumulate across your threshold.
Adjust the heating so that it flows to your door
Keep your door consistently heated to prevent icicles from forming across it. Make sure your door is tightly sealed so no heat escapes and no condensation happens.
Decrease your home's humidity level
Humidity can cause a buildup of moisture through your door panels. Cold air normally has less moisture, but your heating system might cause a more humid indoor space.
To prevent this, use a dehumidifier to counter the rising humidity inside your home. This will prevent mold from forming anywhere in your home and the icicles from condensing and freezing your door shut.
What To Do If Your Home Door is Already Frozen Shut
When your door is already frozen shut, do not scrape the ice off with metal or force it open--this will only damage your panels or your hardware. Here are some of the things you can try to thaw the ice effectively.
Coat your key with petroleum jelly
If your lock mechanism is frozen, try Vaseline or petroleum jelly. Leave your key lathered in petroleum jelly for a few minutes, then put the key into the lock and turn it slowly.
The oil within the petroleum jelly can melt the ice and possibly make your locks work again.
Thaw it with Alcohol or hand sanitizer
A frozen door lock can also be thawed using alcohol or hand sanitizer. Pour either substance onto your key, then shimmy it in and out of the lock until it works.
Rubbing alcohol can significantly decrease the freezing point of water. This is because ethanol molecules seep in and disrupt the bonds of the ice crystals, effectively melting them.
Submerge the key in hot liquid
If you happen to have a hot tea or coffee in hand and your lock refuses to turn, try pouring the hot liquid onto the key. Don't forget to dry it first because it can freeze up quickly. Metal is a good heat conductor, so its warmth can somehow melt the ice inside the locks.
Hair Dryer Method
Warm air can potentially thaw the ice crystals around your lock. Use a hairdryer and make the air blow directly into the lock for a few minutes. Submerge your key in Vaseline or rubbing alcohol, then try working it into the lock.
If all goes well, heated air and a coated key can get your door lock to work again.
Heated Key Method
Carefully heat your keys using a lighter or a candle. You can use your car's heated vents as an alternative if you do not have a lighter in hand.
Wiggle the keys into your lock after. If it still does not work, using a deicer or WD-40 should make your door lock open.
Common House Door Problems during the Winter
A frozen door is not the only challenge most people face during the winter. Here are the other issues you need to prepare for.
Door Won't Close
A door that won't open is just as frustrating as a door that won't close--and it is highly unsafe during the winter. The reason could be that the latch is not attaching to the strike plate, which you can--or cannot--hear happening.
To fix this, you will need to replace the latch set, which is a simple enough job.
Another problem is when your door aggressively springs open, which can be dangerous for pets and children. The problem could lie on the hinges, which are incorrectly positioned. Here's what you can do:
- Remove one screw from the hinge and pry it out the other way.
- Place cardboard underneath the flat space, then pivot the hinge back to hold the cardboard.
- Reattach the screws back.
Worn-out weatherstripping can cause cold drafts in your home. To avoid this problem, you can either run to the hardware store for peel-and-stick weatherstripping or install a traditional one yourself.
- Measure your area's dimensions
- Ensure that your hinges are tight
- Measure the jamb
- Choose your preferred weatherstripping material
- Cut the weatherstripping to your desired size
- Snap the weatherstripping in and strengthen with small tackling nails
Make sure you have a door sweep to go with your weatherstripping so that it will effectively seal your home during the winter.
Dirty and oily locks
Over time, dirt and oil from fingers can build up along the surface and potentially freeze inside your locking mechanism. To prevent this, remove your locks before winter and thoroughly wash them with soap and water.
Dry them out before reattaching them in place so they won't freeze when the temperature drops.
Door Color is Fading
Winter can lose the luster of your door, especially if the material is prone to fading. To prevent this, invest in fiberglass door material that can withstand water damage.
The material is resistant to fading, which can keep your home exterior looking lovely through any season.
When your door starts to squeak, it means the air has turned dry because of winter.
One way to remedy this aside from applying an insulated lubricant is to lather petroleum jelly across the hinges--including any mechanism that allows the door to swing.
Winter is challenging in a lot of ways, and tuning up your door can remove one inconvenience off the list. Ensuring that your doors are sealed shut will not only make your winters more bearable; it will also upgrade the safety of your home.
If you enjoyed this article, check out "How To Seal Roofing Nails."