In our last article we covered how to prevent entry door leaks between the doorframe and the wall. If you missed that post, click here to read it. Entry doors can also leak between the door slab and the doorframe. This is the type of leak we are going to learn how to prevent in this article.
Some fortunate doors have enough overhead protection from a porch roof that they never get hit by any rain. Storm doors will also keep a door from leaking between the door slab and the doorframe. However, a storm door will not prevent leaks between the wall and the doorframe.
For the unfortunate doors, the one that do not lead such a sheltered life, here are some ways that they often leak.
Leaks between the top and sides of the door::
The top and two sides of the door slab seal to the doorframe with compression weather strip. These pieces of weather strip need to be in good condition and the strike plate needs to be the right distance from the weather strip to compress it slightly. If the strike plate is to close to the weather strip it will make the door bolts work hard. Using an adjustable strike plate is very convenient in this situation. Our Bandit Latch product is excellent for easily adjusting strike plates over the life of the door. You can find out more about Bandit Latch here. If the weather strip does not seal well on the top and sides of the doorframe some wind driven rain can leak in here. The rain will run down the sides of the doorframe and hit the top flat part of the threshold. A leak here will show up as a wet spot on the floor.
The lower part of the side weather strip pieces extend past the top flat part of the threshold to the tapered part to the threshold. The water that makes it to the tapered part of the threshold will drain to the exterior of the building. The place where the side weather strip transitions from the door slab to the threshold is a place that often doesn’t seal well. It can let in a small amount of rain or cold weather into the house. I have found that if you make a ½’’ x ¾’’ notch in the weather strip here it allows the weather strip to better seal to the door slab.
It is my opinion that any doorframe without substantial overhead protection should be upgraded to one made of rot resistant materials. Wooden doorframes are susceptible to rotting and a rotten frame is a common reason for doors to need replaced early. A rot resistant frame will help to extend the life of the door. This $75 upgrade now could save your customer a $500 to $1,000 repair in the future.
Leaks at the Bottom of the Door:
The bottom of the door slab has a vinyl sweep attached to it. Its job is to seal the gap between the bottom of the door slab and the flat top part of the threshold. It also has a profile that acts as a drip cap to channel any water coming down the face of the door out onto the tapered part of the threshold. As I mentioned before, water getting to the top flat part of the threshold can get into the house. This door sweep needs to be in good shape and the door to threshold margin needs adjusted so that it seals completely. If this margin is too tight, it can cause the door to work hard. There are a lot of tricks that a carpenter can use to adjust all the door margins on a door, but the door manufactures give us an adjustable threshold to use as a first option.
Excuse me for a paragraph while I rant about adjustable thresholds. I think adjustable thresholds are a great idea, but there is some room here for a big improvement. Pre-hung doors that are shipped directly from the major manufacturers are delivered with the thresholds adjusted all the way down. Basically, the threshold is only adjustable up, not down. These doors really should be hung so that the threshold is set in the middle of its travel range. That way when a contractor is working with the door on the job site, they can adjust the threshold both up and down. I have found that at least half the time when I want to adjust the threshold, I want to take it down. So mister door manufacturer: Are you out there? Could you please give us a hand here?
Leaks at the Joint Between the Doorframe and Aluminum sill:
Another common place I have seen doors leak is the joint between the doorframe and each end of the aluminum sill. The door hanger will usually put a sealant here, but this is a hard spot to get a good and dependable water seal. Entry doors have the final painting done when my company finals out a new house. I like to clean this area and add a bead of clear silicone between the threshold and the doorframe during this phase. This joint is the first place that a wooden doorframe will rot out. In some cases I have seen them rotted away in as little as three to five years.
One Last Tip:
There are door pans available for entry doors. These pans are made out of plastic with a vertical flange molded on three sides of them. They would capture any door leaks between the door slab and the doorframe and channel it out of the house. These pans might not capture water that leaks between the doorframe and the wall.
Having everything adjusted properly at these critical points will go a long way in preventing leaks between the doorframe and the door slab. If you’re experiencing leaks between the doorframe and the wall, check out our article on How to Prevent Entry Door Leaks: Part 1 here.
Bandit Latch is an innovative strike plate for residential exterior doors that solves the most common door installation problems. With the Bandit Latch strike plate, the installer saves up to 30 minutes because it is adjustable.This saves the installer time, while providing a more attractive installation and added security for the homeowner. To learn more about the innovative Bandit Latch strike plate, click here.