Homeowner frustrated with door leaks

Posted1/23/2022 6:00 AM

Q: Every time it rains, our sliding glass door leaks. Water seeps in at the corners of the threshold, soaking the carpet and rotting the subfloor. We've caulked the threshold repeatedly, but nothing seems to work. Is there anything we can do, such as metal flashing, to solve this problem?

A: Leakage is a common problem with sliding door thresholds. Damages can range from stained carpets to rotted subfloor, baseboards and wall framing. Caulking is the common first approach but is often an insufficient solution. Your idea to add flashing is a good one, but even this is not always successful.


There is, however, a fail-safe method of correction, but it can be labor intensive, which means costly, and is only recommended where all other methods have failed.

This repair involves installation of a sheet metal drain pan beneath the door threshold. The pan must be specially ordered from a sheet metal shop to precisely fit the doorway for which it is intended. Three sides of the pan should have a raised edge, about three-quarters of an inch high, with thoroughly sealed corners. The open side of the pan should face toward the exterior, with a downward sloping flange to promote drainage.

To install the pan, the entire door assembly must be removed. The pan is then set in place with generous applications of high quality exterior sealant. The door assembly is then reinstalled, with the threshold inserted into the pan, again with generous applications of sealant. When done properly, this method has been a foolproof way to prevent water intrusion. If all sliding doors were initially installed in this manner, leakage could be prevented at minimal cost. An ounce of prevention during construction equals gallons of cure for years to come.

Q: My neighbors have a very old home, built before the age of building codes, when there were no proper line setback requirements. Recently, they installed a new laundry, and the dryer exhaust now blows against the side of my house. The noise, lint and steam create a nuisance whenever they dry their clothes. I suspect this laundry was added without a permit and am wondering if I should complain to them or to the building department. What do you suggest?

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A: All plumbing and electrical alterations require a building permit. If the laundry was installed without a permit, then the installation is not legal. It may also be illegal to vent a clothes dryer onto a neighbor's property. You can discuss this with your neighbors to see if they are willing to make some reasonable adjustments, such as diverting the dryer vent to another location, possibly above the roof. If their response is less than neighborly, you can file a complaint with the local building department. However, the cost of that action is likely to be permanently frigid relations with your neighbors. You'll need to weigh that discomfort against the perceived advantages of upgrading their laundry.

• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at www.housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.

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