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Old 08-26-2009, 09:44 AM   #1
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Leaking French Doors


I am almost finished building an addition to the rear of my home in Miami. IFC block on a concrete slab. The builder installed PGT impact resistant aluminum french doors leading outside to the patio. The interior is finished, except for the wood floor - to be installed over the concrete. Though the doors have been installed for months, I just noticed that water is seeping under the threshold of the door when it rains. The builder sent over a guy yesterday who cut out a trough parallel to the outside of the base of the threshold (it looks like about 3/4'' deep), and filled it with silicon. I haven't tested it yet, but this looks like a temporary solution to me, particularly since the base of the door is currently 6" above the patio - and I will soon be raising the height of the patio to meet the level per code. Since so far this builder has taken the cheapest, fastest, and (excuse my language) half-assed approach to everything unless I sit on top of him every minute, I am suspicious of this fix. Does anybody know what the proper fix would be?

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Old 08-26-2009, 10:11 AM   #2
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Is the water running in under the threshold or is it running down the door and getting in at the top of the threshold? There are so many ways water can get in at a door. Normally the threshold would have a good bead of exterior caulk (like silicone) between the threshold and the concrete.

I just can't picture this 3/4" groove your builder did. Any way of getting some pictures of the installation?

Don't let the wood floor installation proceed until you know for a fact that this is fixed. I'd be spray testing it with a garden hose to simulate rain.

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Old 08-26-2009, 09:56 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick response. The water is most probably seeping under the threshold. There is a 3 foot eave, so rain would have to be driving hard from the east to get in through the top. They did caulk under the threshold when they installed it - they used the DAP latex with silicone. Maybe they didn't use enough. I am attaching a pic. I hope its clear enough. yes, I am definitely holding off on the the floor installation until this is resolved.
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Old 08-26-2009, 11:41 PM   #4
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Leaking French Doors


I'm just a homeowner, but I had a problem with water leaking under a breezeway door (conventional) threshold after rain. I tried everything. I thought it might have been the slope of the deck towards, no. I sprayed water on it from a pump sprayer, used compressed air to blow out the water, etc. I used a bunch of clear silicone caulk, caulked the edges of the threshold on the outside, replaced the door bottom gasket and put some silicone in its grooves and the ends, caulked the edges of the lower weatherstripping where blowing compressed air revealed a leak. We've had a number of pretty big t-storms and no more water. In my research I've read about threshold pans, aluminum tape, and other stuff used in the installation of doors, but darned if I understand it all. Good luck.
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Old 08-27-2009, 11:38 AM   #5
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Leaking French Doors


They should have installed a flashing "pan" but that in itself may not be the problem. Typically the manufacture calls for 3 beads of construction adhesive to be run under the threshold of the door and the threshold must set firmly in the beads. Silicone on the outside is not uncommon either but as with all caulk it should be inspected annually and cut out and replaced as necessary. It looks like the step is pitched back in the picture. Even if the door was installed correctly if the step is pitched towards the house something is going to leak. Even if you don't think the flashing around the door is leaking check it anyway, you might be surprised the paths water will take. I'm guessing the guy cut out the concrete notch because he noticed the pitch to. Looks ugly and I'd say 50/50 chance it works the way he did it.
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Old 08-27-2009, 05:49 PM   #6
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I guess it's hard to see, but the step is definitely pitched away from the house. And I'm sure that the water is coming from underneath as I had run the hose just to the base of the door, and it seeped through. That's not to say that the rest of the frame isn't leaking as well, but we just haven't had any rain hard enough to reveal that since I noticed the leak.

Though I'm not familiar with drip pans, there was nothing installed under the door. A piece of white aluminum that came with the door is laying around. It's the same length as the door and 3.5 inches wide. I asked him what it was and he said he didn't know. Could this have been a drip pan?

Yes it is ugly isn't it? I'm putting in a nice wood floor on the interior, and I'm building up the level of the patio on the outside (which will increase the water volume against the door base), so I pretty freaked about this.
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Old 08-27-2009, 07:07 PM   #7
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Leaking French Doors


Chances are he did put down some caulk or adhesive on the outside piece of the threshold. On my door, I think the water got around the weatherstripping on the side and then under the inner piece of the threshold which was an adjustable (for height) threshold. I didn't try caulking the inner piece because I didn't think it would be a good idea to trap the water in there.

My breezeway is just concrete, but if you put down wood, you'd want to be pretty darn sure the door wasn't going to leak. Relying on the caulk's integrity seems risky. Are there gutters or anything else that could keep the rain away? I was close to putting on storm doors (I have two doors) before I finally 'fixed' it, but then they would have opened outward and snow would have been a problem. Not exactly practical in your case. You'd think a door should be able to take a little direct rain.

Edit: How about doing some searches on the web, like for the installation manual for the doors if you don't have one. There were a bunch of hits when I put in French Doors Threshold Pan, like this one: http://www.askthebuilder.com/N1-French_Doors.shtml

Now's the time to get it resolved, I would say, and chances are the door will have to be removed.

Last edited by VelvetFoot; 08-27-2009 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 08-28-2009, 04:15 PM   #8
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Leaking French Doors


"Does anybody know what the proper fix would be?" As a licensed contractor, in my area, and having put in many French doors, Patio doors, and other exterior doors, I'll say this: At this point I would highly recommend handing to the contractor a letter, dated and signed, stating that any payments owed on this job are to be held up until this and any other issues have been solved to the satisfaction of each of you. This is perfectly legal in my area, I do not know for sure about your area. Sometimes, it takes such action to get some contractors attention to a real problem. This is a real problem, caused by the contractor, and is to be corrected by the contractor, regardless of who actually put the door in. Photos of the water seeping under the threshold are essential, whether it is raining, or has recently rained need to be documented. Use Honey, not vinegar, to influence this contractor that there is indeed a problem and he is to correct it. The cutting of a trench is not the solution to the problem. Chances are the piece of aluminum you have should have been placed under the door and caulked properly. Good Luck, David
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Old 09-05-2009, 02:55 PM   #9
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Leaking French Doors


Withholding payment is not an option, as I have already paid him for the doors and windows, along with most of the rest of the total, in fact the balance I owe is smaller than the work he still hasn't completed. Bad financial management on my part I know, but I digress. I checked with the manufacturer, the aluminum piece that I have here is not any kind of base. It's a drip cap for installations which are not under an eave, so that's not the problem.

Further examination reveals that water is actually wicking through the concrete to the inside - under or through the threshold. This door is one complete system, so the threshold can not be removed. So far I have spoken to one other installer who does this particular type of installation in Florida. He says that the rough concrete opening should have been water sealed with a product called "wet flash" before setting the doors in place. And that they need to be removed, and reset properly. Needless to say, my builder flatly refuses to do this.

I have been researching concrete sealers (X1, VSeal, or Maxxon DPM). I'm thinking that (if the company literature is true) something that penetrates deep into the concrete, applied both inside and out, might do the trick. Does anyone have any experience with such a product?

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