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Tips for Preventing Patio Doors from Freezing Shut

With cooler weather comes a complete host of life changes. Often associated with the holiday season, winter can bring about a wide range of joys – it’s no wonder there are countless songs sung about snowball fights, families huddling around the fireplace, and the general feeling in the air brought on by the cold.

This change of the seasons isn’t without its host of troubles though – on a more practical level winter can bring danger to the roads, increased power bills, and minor inconveniences wrought from freezing.

Patio doors are especially susceptible to this freezing as they are often subject to an unprotected onslaught of cold weather. If you find your patio door is often frozen shut you should take a look at some of the prevention tips we have outlined here, followed by what to do if your door is already frozen. Before we jump into either of these though it’s best to get a better understanding of what causes a door to freeze in the first place.

preventing patio doors from freezing shut

What Causes a Door to Freeze?

The most obvious answer is cold weather causes doors to freeze but you already knew that. Not all doors freeze in cold weather though and there is a particular reason for this. Steel, plastic, and glass doors typically don’t just sell themselves because they are solid substrates – liquid though, particularly water, can easily freeze.

Frozen water often hits the ground in the form of snow, but can also turn into ice in areas were liquid has accumulated. Larger areas like lakes and rivers show this on a large scale – but often areas like leaves can accumulate frost from the humidity condensation on them at night. This results in the air of a winter climate to be much drier than in summer seasons.

This begs the question then – what is causing an outside door to freeze if the air is so dry? While the answer can vary depending on your specific environment, most likely what is happening is that your patio door is leaking a small bit of air from the indoors. This air is naturally acclimatized to your preference, this air is going to be much more humid than the outside air.

Just in the same way that humid air condensates on a leaf or branch in the evening, so does this warm humid air on the colder surface of the perimeter of your door. What happens is that the warm air becomes much colder and ends up freezing like all the other liquids.

Prevention Methods

One of the easiest ways to prevent a patio door from freezing is to make sure that it’s properly sealed. Open your patio door and check around the perimeter to see if the weatherstripping is still good. If you notice any flaying, tears, or if it’s just straight up missing in sections you’re going to want to replace it.

A roll of weatherstripping can be found at your local hardware store and is often an extremely reasonable price. Merely cut away the old stripping with a razor knife, measure the perimeter, and cut the new stripping to size.

While this won’t apply for sliding glass doors, if you find that your door has a particularly large gap on the bottom, you can install a door sweep to keep your air in. If your door seals are still intact but you still have air leaks, then you might have a door that is just slightly misshapen for its frame or vice-versa.

Adjustment for these doors is often simple enough to do. If you don’t have the know how to do it, you should be able to hire a contractor that will do it for a sensible price. Aside from making sure your patio door is sealed tight, there are a few other things you can do to keep it from freezing up.

Lubricants like WD-40 have a much lower freezing temperature than traditional water and can be useful for staving off the effects of ice accumulation around the frame of your door. Other lubricants like Vaseline are similar in this regard in that they don’t freeze except under the most brutal winter conditions.

During the day, when the temperature isn’t nearly as low, you can open your patio door for a few minutes. This helps to break off any frozen particles that may have started to accumulate, along with equalizing the humidity inside of the home more closely with that of the outside. If you find your door is still freezing despite all these precautions, you might need to think about investing in a better door.

backyard patio and yard

What to do if your Door is Already Frozen

You should never attempt to force a frozen door open. If it’s a sliding glass door, this can damage the track and even break the glass. You should avoid this with more traditional swing doors too, as forcing a frozen door can damage the frame or break the lock.

What you can do is apply a little bit of pressure around the perimeter of the door – this will cause the material to bend, causing cracks in the ice. If the ice is particularly thick you might need to use a tool to chip away at the ice. While an official ice scraper is ideal just about any stiff plastic object will work – think of things like a credit card or spatula.

Avoid using anything metal as this can scrape up the paint and glass. Another technique is to simply melt away the ice. Plug in a hair dryer, point it at the ice, and shoot away. You can also fight fire with fire – or in this case water with water by pouring a pitcher of lukewarm water on the ice to melt it.

Using hot water is never recommended as the large temperature difference can shatter window glass. Official deicing products are available as well, but in a pinch homemade concoctions are possible. Small amounts of rubbing alcohol can dissolve ice, along with a vinegar mixture. Be careful though as these chemicals can cause some damage to the seals or glass of your patio door.

outdoor sliding patio door

Final Thoughts

There are many different ways to open up a frozen door – from specialized concoctions of different household chemicals to a small pitcher of water, or just a little bit of pressure, these doors aren’t impervious even in the coldest temperatures. To avoid having your patio door freeze up in the first place try applying some graphite based lubricants to keep any frost from accumulating around the edges.

The best thing you can do is to undermine the potential of freezing – with the number one case usually being leaking warm air from the inside pushing humidity to the freezing exterior. Following the same principle of condensation that you can often find in your own lawn in the early morning hours, this warm moisture attaches itself to solid surfaces and then freezes in place.

Winter can bring a lot to your home – increased HVAC bills, damage to plant life, and a general inconvenience brought on by snow and ice. While all of these problems have their solutions, you can know that a freezing door does not have to be one of them.

Beautiful Patio Doors

Before this winter comes, you’ll want to remodel your home with brand new patio doors. At Feldco, regardless of the style you choose, your new patio door will offer the best in security, looks, and dependability. Speak to a product specialist and get a free quote today.

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