Leaky French Doors

liveoaklaDecember 8, 2009

How do you make old wood french doors water-tight? Rain blows under the doors and is causing my wood floors to buckle. Neither the front nor the back entrance has any kind of overhang and when I added an awning, I was told by the historic district to remove it. The awning helped quite a bit, but there was still a little bit of water on the floor after a wind-driven rain. Is there a particular type of threshold that I need? I've already had a contractor and a carpenter work on the problem, but obviously they were unsuccessful. The current threshold is simply a raised piece of wood. I'm feeling pretty desperate at this point.

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macv

An inswing exterior door has two serious weather proofing problems.

One, the threshold can't turn up behind the inside face of the door because it must swing open in that direction.

Two, the face of the door must be in the same plane as the interior wall so the door can be hinged to swing freely past 90 degrees. That requires a larger sloped exterior threshold extension (or sill) so it can project beyond the exterior face of the house and water can drip from it instead of running over the sill nose and get pulled back into the house by wind and capillary action. (Obviously, sealing the space below the threshold is also necessary.)

You would think these problems would be well understood by carpenters but too often they are not.

The threshold shown below allows the interior upturn to be raised until it fits tightly against the weather stripping on the bottom of the door. The interior (left) side seems high but a threshold is supposed to sit on the sub-floor and the finish flooring (or underlayment if there is carpet or tile) is added so it stops against the threshold.

Here is a link that might be useful: threshold

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 5:55PM
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macv

You should think about where the water is coming from that is blowing under the door. If it is coming from the landing outside the door then the landing is too high and needs to be lower or have a water stop of some kind.

If it is coming down the face of the door you may need a horizontal drip strip at the bottom edge of the door. (I suspect this is the case since the awning helped.) There may also be an acceptable historic treatment for over the door since people have had to solve this problem since the first inswing door was installed.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 6:08PM
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liveoakla

Thanks for the information. If I re-install the doors so that they swing outward, would the leaking stop? I could do that for the back door, but not the front.

You say that the threshold pictured above should fit tightly against the weather stripping on the bottom of the door. There is no weather stripping. Is there any kind that I could install that wouldn't involve removing the doors (like the sticky-backed foam kind)? Wishful thinking?

The leaking occurs when the gutters overflow. The rain water spills down the front of the door and then under it. I've already installed a horizontal drip strip.

I'm hoping the historical people will allow a different type of awning.

If you have any more ideas, let me know!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 11:23AM
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macv

The issue will be how much room there is under the door.

Here is a link that might be useful: door bottom drip and seal

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 7:52PM
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brickeyee

"The issue will be how much room there is under the door."

You can add seals till the cows come home, without the ability to turn up an edge you are relying on the seals completely for wind driven rain protection.

Seals rarely last as long as you want.

Real French doors have two sets of sashes.

One opens in, the other opens out.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 9:16PM
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macv

Fix the gutter first.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 7:33AM
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sombreuil_mongrel

This link is to a permanent solution; an interlocking metal threshold/weatherstrip for the door bottom. The metal drip edge attached to the door sheds water from the threshold so it drips clear and can't seep under.
Casey

Here is a link that might be useful: Door Bottom Weatherstrips

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 4:26PM
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liveoakla

Can I pay anyone here to come and fix the stupid doors? My biggest problem has been finding someone who knows how to do the work.

The gutters are brand new, but they're the half-round style (the only type permitted) and they don't seem to hold as much water. Plus, there are tons of trees in the area with falling leaves.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 4:57PM
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macv

Any competent carpenter should be able to install a weather proof sill.

Half round gutters hold less water than standard K style gutters so it is often necessary to get the largest size made.

Rain protection over a door is common even in historic houses.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 5:59PM
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liveoakla

I'm thinking of getting some board and batten shutters if the historic district people refuse to allow any type of awning.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 7:49PM
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macv

Call a gutter company and get a larger half round gutter installed even if it has to be custom fabricated.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 4:19PM
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