I need help guys! Rain coming under front door & ruining floor!

babs711March 9, 2011

I suppose this should go under home repair but I'm much more comfortable here. Plus, I need extra advice on top of just the repair stuff regarding aesthetics, so I need you guys! Anyway, here goes:

We don't have much of an overhang outside by our front door. When we redid the inside of the house five-something years ago, we put wood throughout the main spaces. It was all tile before. My contractor had said that with a shallow outdoor overhang, it's common for water to come in and it can get under the floor. With tile, owners never notice. But with wood, it can be a problem. Thus, the travertine entry by the door. We also put a sweep on the bottom of the door...

closer shot:

However, I've noticed over the past year or so (and we've had a couple of really bad storms over the past couple of months) that the wood floor finish has started to buckle/warp about three feet beyond that travertine entry and about 6" or so to the right of the door.

Of course this happens now because OUR HOUSE IS FOR SALE RIGHT NOW. So I don't know what to do. It's noticeable because the light shines right in from the glass door. You can see the little lines from the finish warping. What should we do about this?

I guess I'm wondering if, as a seller, do we go ahead and repair the damage or just disclose it and offer $$?

IF we repair it, what on earth would we do to prevent it from happening again? My thoughts were to extend the tile area (do a darker tile??) but I don't want it to look strange. I also don't want to sink a lot of money into this since we are selling.

For reference, this is to the right of the door:

And this is a somewhat decent shot of the whole area, the living and the darker tile that's in the kitchen:

I don't have pictures of the warped areas. But I wanted you to see what the inset of entry tile currently looks like. I just don't know what to do with such an open entry area and with our selling situation. WWGWD??

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I love your furniture, very comfortable home. I'm hoping kmarcel sees your post, you may want to show her
your solid couch and solid chair combination. Room looks very nice!! I'm not sure what I'd do regarding the warped floor, sorry. Good luck with your sale.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 2:33PM
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babs, I'm sorry you're having this problem just when you're selling your home. Estimates are usually free, you know. I'd call a qualified contractor or three and get estimates. Could you match your kitchen tile? Can't tell from the photo; is it of a quality you'd be happy with at your front door?

You didn't ask this, and please excuse me if you don't want this advice, but DH and I have bought and sold quite a few homes. Our realtors have always advised us to get rid of everything we possibly can to avoid distracting potential buyers. We've sold every house (7 in all) within a few days to a few weeks. You don't want buyers looking at your decor; you want them imagining their own decor in the marvelously huge space they see in our home. We even remove coffee tables. No one has ever complained that the house looks too empty. Of course, if you plan to stay in your house a long while before selling it you may find it more difficult than we did. Anyway, please excuse me if I've stepped too far over a line.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 2:59PM
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I'm guessing that the water is getting in under the door threshhold and getting soaked up by the joists and eventually to your wood floor. That's why the door sweep hasn't helped a whole lot since it doesn't sound like the water is soaking in from the top. This was probably happening when it was just tile too except the tile wouldn't absorb water (did the subfloor look ok when you redid the floors?) More tile won't stop the problem, only mask it better. When it storms does the water pool outside at the base of the door or does the rain just drive in sideways?

Also, I think your contractor was either lazy or not very smart or a combination of the two, knowing that these problems exist and then installing tile as the solution. If you decide to fix the problem you need to get someone who knows what they are doing but I don't think it's going to be rocket science.

I am not a legal or RE expert so not much help there. I'm not sure exactly what you would disclose (since you unsure of the problem yourself) that the buyer cannot already see. However, If it's noticeable then you might want to at least address the issue and get the cause of it fixed. Buyers freak out about certain things, cracks in walls, water stains in ceilings, etc. no matter if they are true structural problems or not.

Don't be afraid to post over on home repair and see if they can give you some better advice. That's why the forum was created.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 3:00PM
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Not what you want to hear, but legally you are now obligated to disclose any problems you know of, not to just one potential buyer, but there is form you must fill out of all known problems.

You definetely have a water problem at that door, any inspector a buyer might get is going to see it if it is visible to your eye now, and you are going to have to fix it or the buyer will get an estimate and you will have to cough up the money. It's going to be cheaper for you to fix it than for the buyer to get a contractor's estimate. You know the buyer will want the very most expensive repair possible.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 3:09PM
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sorry, I meant "marvelously huge space they see in YOUR home".

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 3:19PM
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To be blunt, and I know you aren't going to want to hear this, I would not buy a house with a water problem, which your house has. I don't believe your contractor that it is "common" for water to seep in at exterior doors. I've lived in houses with no outdoor overhang and a ground level entry and not had any water seepage. If water is getting in under your front door, there's a problem. I don't know if it's with the door itself, how the ground is graded around your house, something wrong with the front stoop, but there's something wrong somewhere.

The only way I'd consider buying your house would be if you identified the cause of the water seepage. If you didn't remediate the problem and fix the floor, I'd expect the price of the house to be lower to offset the costs I'd encounter fixing the problem.

The thing is, water seeps. It moves. It follows the path of least resistance. It can do a lot of hidden damage to all the unseen parts of your house, the joists, the beams, anything wood inside your walls and floors. The water may have damaged your subfloor long before you started to notice the warping. If you have a basement, there may be more water damage down there. There could be mold issues.

Depending on the disclosure laws in your state, even if you fix the floor, you may still need to disclose that you have an unsolved water leak.

So my advice would be to get at least two contractors to come and look at the front door and figure out what is wrong and get that fixed. Then you can decide whether to fix the floor or offer cash back at closing for the buyer to repair the floor.

Unless houses are selling quickly in your area, or your house is in a prime location being offered at good price, I think a problem like this will have a lot of buyers just walking away.

I know this isn't want you wanted to hear. I'd advise posting this over on the Buying and Selling Houses forum and see what the experts over there have to say.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 3:34PM
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What's the exterior of the house made of? How old is it? Do you have a shot of the front door from the outside? Are you in a neighborhood built by a single builder, and if so, have any other homes had water issues?

Lots of times, what looks like water seeping under the front door is actually water coming down around from the top of the door or even the windows above the door which are improperly flashed. This is extremely common because a lot of builders don't know or don't care about proper flashing techniques. We learned the hard way when we had to spend upwards of $100K fixing our then-6-year-old house, which had pretty much rotted away inside the walls thanks to a complete lack of window and door flashing. I now know more about proper flashing than anyone should ever know, LOL!

I will say that before we discovered the problem, we did have some issues with water leaking in under one of our french doors -- like you, we assumed it was leaking at the bottom of the door and tried a door sweep, weatherstripping, etc, all to no avail. But that was because the real problem wasn't with the bottom of the door - it was the top of the door and the windows above where the water was getting in, running down inside the walls, and coming out at the bottom of the door.

Anyhow, depending on the material/siding on the front of your house, if flashing is the problem, it might be relatively easy and cheap to fix (vinyl) or it might be really hard and expensive (stucco/brick/stone/EIFS). And unfortunately, the problem is usually more common (and more severe) in the masonry-type homes because the water that gets into the walls can't evaporate as easily as it can on a vinyl-sided home.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news and I truly hope I'm wrong, but you may have more of a problem than you bargained for....I would definitely call a contractor or home inspector to try and pinpoint the source of the problem before it gets any worse.

Here is a link that might be useful: My house horror story....

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 4:07PM
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Most states require disclosure. In addition, the problem would probably be discovered during inspection. Do you have a lot of repairs that need to be made in order to sell the house or just this one? If your home is move in ready, except for this issue, then I'd go ahead and fix.

Water should always be draining away from the home, never into the home. Do you know the source/flow of the water? In other words, is rainwater hitting the door/house and running down and in? (if so, then the threshold was not properly installed/flashed and/or the porch/house seam is not properly sealed) Is rainwater hitting the porch and pooling/running back toward and into the house? (if so, then the porch is not flat/level, with a slight slope away from the house and the porch/house seam is not properly sealed) Or is the leak as a result of improper/insufficient eaves and downspouts? Is this a slab home? Basement? Any other leaks?

Even if you opt to not fix, I'd go ahead and get several estimates so that I understood the problem and knew what it would cost to have properly fixed. By the way, the fix is a two parter 1) a fix to prevent water from entering the home, and 2) a fix to correct the damage caused by the water that has already entered the home.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 4:40PM
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I can only reiterate everything that lkplatow said. We have had the same water issues in every room across the back of our house built in the mid-80s in a very upscale expensive neighborhood. Much was due to no flashing- a living room wall over the fireplace almost came down due to no chimney flashing. Leaks in the dining room ceiling due to unseen water leaking through the top of transom windows into the dining room ceiling. Just did a whole master bath renovation because of water at the roof line leaking through the walls under the shower. Never saw a thing until that water soaked the dining room ceiling underneath the shower and half the bathroom subflooring had rotted underneath the flooring. We never saw a thing until it was so wet the dining room ceiling almost fell through.

Hopefully you will not have anything this major and it is not said to scare you, but as lkplatow said, water takes the path of least resistance and where the leak starts showing may have nothing to do with where the source of the problem is. I can only advise you from experience to get some good contractors out to your house and solve this problem now. Covering it up is not going to be the answer even if you sell the house. Ultimately you will be found responsible. So sorry for you and hopefully it will be minor. And don't call the contractor who didn't solve it in the first place! It's not common for water to come in under the floor and if it happens he was only covering it up putting tile down. What did he think was going to happen to the water that then was coming in under the tile?!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 4:41PM
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"My contractor had said that with a shallow outdoor overhang, it's common for water to come in and it can get under the floor."

I've never heard of such a thing, and it's totally wrong for any install or work (windows, doors, roof, siding, flooring, plumbing, electrical, and so forth) to be given an explanation that water intrusion is common.

Have to agree with others. You have a water problem and you should call someone now to look into it. It could be something as simple as a caulk job, or something bigger in another location.

Your wood is buckling 3 feet beyond the tile? That's a long way...maybe 5-6 feet into the room? You have more than just a tiny drip or leak during heavy rain. Unless you have an active water leak directly under the wood floor (such as plumbing), water is coming in from somewhere on a regular-enough basis where it is wicking in very far. To me, that means the water is coming in regularly and the water continues to wick farther in because it's path is already wet/soaked and needs to keep moving forward as more water comes in.

I'd also be very concerned about the integrity of the tile/adhesive/grout system. Not sure how old the floor tile job is, but unless it was installed using products for wet conditions (like showers), the tile will not last long. Adhesive will fail, and so will the grout.

Who to call? Good question. If you really think it's the door, call a door/window company first. If you really think it's the roof, call a roofer. These folks will be able to guide you to the next step, or at least make recommendations on where to go from there.

I hope you post back the progress of this, and I hope it turns out fine.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 6:40PM
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I'd find the source of the leak/seepage, fix it, then add a border around the existing tile of new tile that is a different color to make a frame.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 7:37PM
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We had the same problem in our last house. It was two story with a huge window above the door and the water would pour off the garage roof onto the door from one side, and from the dining room roof from the other side when it rained really hard. We ended up having an overhang built over the door. It really is the only solution. The builder first tried doing things to the door itself, but the way the house was designed on the exterior was actually the cause.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 9:36PM
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WHEW! That was a lot to read through! Thank you all so much for reading through that and for your advice. I'm going to try to address things one at a time and I may have to back up a little. I didn't want to make my initial post TOO long so some things weren't in there that possibly should have been. But it looks like some questions have been asked. So here goes!

sewwhatsnew - thank you for your kind words. You are sweet to chime in. :)

susanka - We love our kitchen tile. If it's still made, that would be an option. Of course we'd have to stop the issue first. I'd actually rather do it with the kitchen tile than with the travertine as the kitchen tile blends better with the wood. And I do NOT think you stepped too far over the line! I appreciate all feedback! Thank you!!

skyedog, patty0315, camlan, lkplatow - The subfloor is a concrete slab and there are no basements in New Orleans. It was in perfect condition when this floor was done five-something years ago. This is where the story might get longer. Our area flooded after Katrina. We gutted our house to the studs up to four feet. So all of this renovation is new post-Katrina flooding renovating. The door was solid wood so it is the same door but re-framed and sealed. There is NO water pool anywhere outside the door when it rains. You actually step UP slightly to come in our door and into our house. Houses are up slightly on our street. We live in New Orleans and a few times a year we get really really GUSTY storms. I remember having a huge conversation with our contractor (who is a friend) about him NOT wanting to install french doors in the back because at the time we had no patio cover and he thought water from blowing rain would eventually end up at some point coming up under the door. He said it happens in this area all the time. So we went with one working door with two window type non-doors beside it. Compromise..as it seals better. Then we talked about the front for the same reason. We only have like a 2 foot overhang over our front door. When you have a porch or a larger overhang, you don't get that wind/rain battle at your front door during a storm. And during a normal rain, we've never ever had a problem. I've noticed the floor issue after distinct times and they've been storms with wind that has blown in that door's direction. Our house doesn't have a water problem or any seeping or leaking. It's directly from gusting rain when it happens.

I guess we should have had a storm door put in. We thought the compromise of the tile and the sweep on the door would cut it. Ugh!!

patty0315 - We don't know who built the house originally. The owners before us remodeled and put the tile in. Then we remodeled and did the wood after Katrina with our guy. So he doesn't know any history of issues, nor do we. He's going on history of what's he's seen and repaired in this area from houses in the city.

The house is brick. Other houses on the street have more porch cover than we do I've noticed. Ours is very shallow. No single builder here in New Orleans. The house is like 35 years old I think?

I don't have an exterior photo of the outside on me as I'm at my parents' house for the last half of Mardi Gras vacation week with my kids. I can put one here when we get back though.

jlt37869 - The house is move-in ready. Totally and completely and then THIS happens. It makes me sick to my stomach. I noticed a slight rippling after the other storm a while back and then this last one I can see it so much worse and I can't let anyone come through the house with the flooring like this. The finish just looks strange. This is the ONLY thing that would need to be done. See my huge paragraphs above re: the source and the type of home. Thoughts are welcomed.

gayle0000 - For some reason your wording really stood out to me. Yes, it's probably 5 feet into the room at this point. And you're right. I think it possibly didn't dry out from something and got so wet with last night's torrential downpour that it went that far in. Prior to that it was only about 4" beyond that tile. I don't know if the term buckling is correct. The grain of the wood finish on top just looks really linear...the finish lines are a lot more pronounced? The boards aren't coming up...yet. I have to say it's the door or the flashing (I keep seeing that word) because of the timing of the damage occurrences. They've happened the morning after a storm.

jeanne_gallo - I'm not sure if we can. I think it will make our house protrude too far and will cause a zoning issue. I'll have to check into it. Thank you for your feedback though. It makes me feel a bit better.

dianolo - thank you for your feedback. Any is appreciated. My stomach is just sinking right now. :(

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 12:04AM
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UPDATE: I called both of the contractors that we know very well (both friends of the family and very reputable) today and told them what was going on. Right off the bat they both said that they'd both received 15-20 calls this week regarding similar situations on houses they've worked on and houses they haven't worked on. Both said that when you get 70+mph winds blowing in one direction at any kind of a place where water can get through there is a possibility that water will come through, period. We are not alone apparently. One used the analogy of standing in front of the door with a hose and spraying right at the bottom of the door with it. If there is ANY minor gap of any sort then water will come through. With the major wind we had and the lengthy hours-long storm, this makes sense. Another said that people had called that had NEVER had any issues in their home prior to this last storm and suddenly they had water come in. He said, it takes the right direction and the right amount of wind and it may only happen once or twice but when it happens it happens.

Anyway, both are coming out to look at it and figure out what we can do to keep it from happening again and to see how to best fix our flooring.

This is such a huge pain in the butt. So I want to double check that what is done properly? the flashing? caulking? weather stripping? We will be adding a clear storm door (I just don't care about aesthetics at this point)...anything else?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 12:53PM
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Were you home when the storms hit? Our house is also on piers and we have a similar door at the courtyard entrance. When Hurricane Gustav hit we had water seep in through the door even though we have a 4' deep porch roof. We were able to contain it with towels. I'm just curious why you have so much damage. Sounds like you need a more substantial overhang at the door.

PS ... when we power wash the house I stay on the inside (with towels) to monitor all doors while dh uses the machine. So your contractors are right about that!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 1:20PM
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It was like 2 in the morning and I was in my bed with my two kids piled in scared next to us because of all the lightning. It was a SCARY storm! No way was I going to be next to any type of glass window or door! ;P

I agree about the overhang. You know, I started thinking that perhaps those of us in hurricane wind-type areas just have different types of things that go on here? Then I started thinking - you know when a flood happens from outside? Or rising water? Floors get damaged because water first seeps in from under the outside door....ANY door. I'm not sure it's necessarily because our particular house has a huge problem. That's basically what happened here except with water being sprayed directly at that area constantly for a couple of hours or more? I fell asleep eventually. I think that with more of an overhang, some of the blowing water falls down on the porch before it gets to the door. Darned it. I don't know. I'll have to see what the contractors say when they get here this week.

But basically there was no containing with towels because of the severity of the storm and the timing and the calming down of the kids and the dog!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 1:48PM
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barb, You said in your very first post that you've noticed this over the last year. If that's correct, then how could just one recent storm, even for a few hours, be the cause? That doesn't make sense to me.

If it's lasted for one year, I think there's more going on. Sorry.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 2:07PM
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It's so hard to put every small detail into the initial post. Sorry. I guess i should have said WITHIN the last year we had another major storm and I noticed it right after a few inches in but very minor an it didn't get any worse after. I can't recall exactly how long ago which is why I said "in the last year"....it could have been six months ago even. Time is a whirlwind these days. Cut to this worse storm and I woke up to see that the finish had damaged the finish further in to the room. Does that help clarify? Sorry. I was trying to type it all in and my words and thoughts were jumbled. At the same time I didn't want my original post to end up being a book that no one would read because it would be too darned long. But j apparently didn't word some key things properly.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 2:49PM
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I think at the least I would want to have that tile pulled up to see how wet it is under it and what damage, if any, there is to the subflooring. It not it will stay wet and continue to warp or rot the hardwood. JMHO and I'm anything but any expert, just experienced with water under floors that you can't see until.......

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 3:58PM
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We used Floorcrafters on Carrollton to install. A couple of years later, the icemaker malfunctioned resulting in buckling in the kitchen and adjacent family room. They were able to pull up and replace just the minimum # of boards to make the entire floor look new again.

Later in another state, we had french doors to the deck which only leaked in wild winds like you're describing. We had the doors hinges shimmed for perfect alignment, replaced vertical and top weatherstripping and replaced the regular horizontal weatherstripping underneath with a bottom track that extended a little less than 2" onto the door with a tight seal underneath. Look on line as the kind we got was not available in big box stores. Solved the problem. Again, we replaced just a few boards and no one could tell there was ever any damage.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 4:33PM
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When you have the water intrusion problem is wet on top of the threshold and inside the door frame?

If not there is probably something incorrect with the flashing/installation along the frame of the door and not gaps in the door itself. It would be wise to open up the dry wall some to allow things to dry out so mold doesn't start to grow if that is the case and then you could also use a hose around the door and see where the problem is located.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 8:42AM
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