New door leaking from the rain? Where’s the sill pan?

Written By: Kathy Price-Robinson - Sep• 28•07

ParkhausdoorIn Burbank, blogger John Park has generously kept us up to date on his stylish remodel with Park Haus Addition blog. Now he’s in the punch list phase, where all those things that are not right are made so before the job is declared done.

In a way, John and his family are fortunate the skies poured out an unseasonable torrent recently. He got to see that one of his exterior doors leaks. Oops. According my own experiences and my contractor sources, there are several reasons water leaks under an exterior door:

1. The inside and outside plane are the same. Ideally, the outside should be lower than the inside, or slope away from the house so rainwater will do likewise. Water is not mystical. It behaves according to the laws of nature every single time.

2. The door opening is not flashed properly. Flashings are materials from 4 to 12 inches wide, often with a sticky backing, that help seal up the gap between the door system and the wall.

3. There are no overhangs. In this case, with its sleek and contemporary architecture, that is probably so. Wide overhangs are more than a design statement or protection from sun. They also help keep rainwater away from the house.

4. There is no sill pan. A sill pan is kind of like a gutter underneath the sill or threshold that channels water away from the house. Sill pans are not required by code, but many in the “building science” field think they should be. If you are remodeling or building, you can request sill pans for each window and door. You’ll pay extra, but then again, how much does it cost to repair a leaking door? A lot!

5. All of the above. The more of these issues that are present, the more likely a door or window will leak.

Sill pans are made by many companies, including JamSill, Dow, Marvin and Endura.

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One Comment

  1. JP says:

    Thanks for diagnosing this, Kathy. I’ll be curious to see how many of these our contractor thinks are contributing to the problem. You’re definitely spot-on with number 3, no overhangs; I ran around like crazy closing all the windows, because the rain was coming in pretty seriously. Darn modern design!

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