Doors serve more than one purpose. They are a barrier between the inside of your home and the great outdoors. They keep burglars out and keep your family safe inside, and they also include windows so you can look out the door and see the world passing by. When a door ages, it stops serving these functions as well as it should. But how do you know when it is time to get rid of your door and replace it with a new one? Look for these signs.
Latches and Locks That Don't Work
In some cases, if your door stops latching or locking properly, you just need to replace the latch or lock. This just involves a quick trip to the hardware store and a little DIY work. But if the door structure is rotten or broken to the extent that even a new latch or lock won't work, you need to replace the door. A door that won't lock is more than a minor inconvenience -- it is dangerous because it means anyone can come into your home. Temporary measures, like a hook and eye closure placed across the inside of the door frame, only go so far since they're easy to snap if someone pushes on the door hard enough.
Doors made from vinyl, aluminum, or steel tend to last longer than wooden doors because they don't develop rot. If you have a wooden door, take a close look at the wood, and also feel it. If it has become discolored or it feels squishy in some places, the door is starting to rot -- and your best bet is to have it replaced. Rotting wood can impart mold growth, and you don't want to be breathing in mold spores whenever you are home. Plus, even if you paint over a rotting wood door, it will look worn and won't give off a good impression.
Feel the windows in your door. Do they wiggle around a bit when you apply pressure to one corner? This happens a lot of when doors start to rot and deteriorate. Water often gathers in the little ridge between the wood and the glass, so this area starts rotting before any other area. Loose windows are a problem because they are more likely to shatter during a storm, and also because they let air seep through between the window and the door. In the winter, this drives up your heating bills, and in the summer, it drives up AC costs. A new door will be much more energy efficient, saving you dollars each month on fuel and electricity.
Rising Energy Bills
Sometimes, the first signs that your door is on the fritz may be increasing energy bills. This happens not only when the glass becomes loose, but also when the weather stripping that surrounds the door starts to break down or separate from the door. New doors are made from more energy-efficient materials, such as wood composite, so you will notice a marked reduction in costs when you have one installed. Consider having your windows replaced at the same time. Usually, when your doors have started to decay and drive up your energy bills, so have your windows.
There are a number of characteristics to look for in a new door. Choose something that you can paint if you ever want to change the exterior colors of your home, and make sure the windows are made with double-pane glass for maximum efficiency. Remember, you don't have to stick with the same door style you had before. A new, energy efficient door can give your home exterior a fresh, new look.