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How To Prevent Entry Door Leaks: Part 1

The word “leak” is a scary word for homeowners. Dollar signs start spinning through your head when your hear it. Homeowners don’t want to hear it and contractors don’t want to say it. In this article, we will discuss how to prevent entry doors from leaking, and in turn will help you keep your customers happy.

Entry doors can experience external leaks between the doorframe and the wall. This is the main problem we are going to tackle here. Entry doors can also leak between the door slab and the doorframe, but we will address that situation in a future article.

In some cases, entry doorframes have complete or partial protection from a low overhang or a porch roof. This kind of overhead protection eliminates water from getting to the top or sides of the doorframe. These doors would be considered “leak proof”. For doors without any protection from rain, it is essential to provide some due diligence to ensure that water does not get in between the wall, wall covering and the door frame.

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.

Protecting the Top of the Doorframe:

The top brick mold is the most critical area to prevent external doorframe leaks. Any water that comes vertically down the face of the wall hits the top of the brick mold and it can run back to the subsiding and penetrate between the subsiding and the doorframe. When water comes in this way it could show up as a drip between the interior molding and the top of the doorframe. The water may also run down the sides of the doorframe and show up as wet spot on the floor. This kind of leak can also rot out the top doorframe and top piece of brick mold. This is not a good situation.

To prevent this kind of leak, install a piece of aluminum drip cap over the door. This drip cap has a vertical flange that goes up from the brick mold along the face of the subsiding. It also has a horizontal flange that extends out to the face of the brick mold and a short vertical flange down the face of the brick mold. Once the drip cap is installed, any water hitting the top of the brick mold will be safely channeled out onto the face of the brick mold.

If you have any exterior trim details that you are going to add above the door, make sure to extend the vertical flange of the drip cap above the trim detail. This will ensure that any water that gets in behind the trim detail cannot get in behind the drip cap.

Protecting the Sides of the Doorframe:

The sides of the doorframe are more forgiving. A common problem that I see happen here is that some water can penetrate between the siding and

the brick mold causing damage to the subsiding. This kind of leak does not usually get into the house unless it is on an upper floor and has another door or window below it.

The solution in this situation is to use house wrap and install it before you install the door. Here are the steps to properly install the house wrap:

  1. Make a two to three inch long cut in the house wrap at a 45 degree angle at the top corners of the rough opening.

  2. Fold up the flap you created and temporarily stick a nail in it to hold it out of the way.

  3. Install the door into the opening on top of the house wrap.

  4. Install your piece of drip cap to the top of the door.

  5. Release the flap of house wrap onto the vertical flange of the drip cap.

  6. Find a piece of the best quality house wrap tape available and put a piece of it along the top of the door. Let it extend four inches on each side of the door.

Now that you’ve protected the top and sides of your door, you should be in good shape as far as any leaks between the wall and the doorframe.

How many people is that going to make happy?

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