Shoes can help keep rain and drafts out of the front door
Question: We had a handyman install a door broom on the left door of the double entry doors that open. The broom does not cover the threshold, which has a strip of wood or maybe plastic attached to a larger metal strip on the outside. I don’t know what product the handyman bought, but underneath it is the same feel as the other doors, but with several rubber bands. I am very concerned about the water seeping below. Is there anything that could be added to the door, or do I have to remove the broom that was just installed?
A: Door brooms are designed to prevent drafts from entering through the space between the bottom edge of a door and the threshold. They are attached to one side of the door, near the bottom edge, and have a flexible material that hangs down and clogs the space. Some brooms have bristles that resemble brooms, hence the term “brooms,” while others have rubber flaps, usually vinyl.
Regardless of the style, it is important to recognize where the seal should take place. If a door opens, as most residential entry doors do, the sweep is on the inside and seals against the portion of the threshold that is directly under the inside edge of the door when the door is closed. It is only when an exterior door opens that a sweep goes outside. The sill design, with a lip and an outward slope, is what keeps water out.
Because you have multiple rubber bands under your door, you don’t have a door broom. Instead, you have shoes, which are sometimes referred to as caps. They are U-shaped assemblies with arms that wrap around the bottom edge of a door. The bottom of the U contains a flexible material, usually vinyl, which is not visible. This is what seals the threshold. The shoes create a neat look and protect the bottom edge of wooden doors from moisture. But they can be more complicated to install and adjust. To fit the shoe, the installer must remove the door from its hinges unless there is enough room to slide into the shoe when the door is open.
The handyman probably installed a different brand of door shoe than the one originally installed on your doors, resulting in a different height of the U-shaped arms. This is just a visual detail. The functional issue is whether the shoe has been fitted in such a way that it seals against the threshold. One way to test this is to close the door on a piece of paper or a playing card and see if it can be pulled out. If he can easily, the gap is too big. If you feel slight resistance when you remove it, it is properly installed. If you have to really pull, the fit is too tight for easy door use.
Because you describe your threshold as metal with a narrow strip of wood or plastic across the top, you probably have the type that makes it easy to adjust the gap between a shoe and the threshold: Turn the screws that hold the strip in place. up, and it will move slightly up or down.
Double exterior doors that open are notoriously difficult to seal, as wind and rain push against the doors in the same direction they are made to open. If you see water seeping at the bottom of the doors, check to see if it is coming under the threshold. This could mean that the sealant was not applied correctly when the threshold was installed.
To solve this problem, you will need to cut the threshold in the middle so that you can remove it laterally in two sections. Then replace the threshold. The type that has metal on the outside with a wood insert on the inside and a wooden top piece, which you seem to have, is better than an all-metal threshold, which gets so cold as condensation – and possibly mold – will likely form on the interior surface during the winter.
If water gets above the threshold and the shoe fits properly, another type of shoe might solve your problem. Get one with an added feature that keeps water away from the door, like the U-Shaped Door Bottom with Drip Cap from MD Building Products.
It could also help improve the way the door that usually stays closed is pinned in place. If it is not secure, the door that is usually open will not stay closed either. If the inactive door is not locked at the top and bottom, install bolt locks designed for this purpose. If your door already has them, you may need to adjust the strikes where the bolts go. The best solution is a multi-point locking system, which has deadbolts on the top, middle, and bottom, but that would likely involve buying new doors, as adding it in refurbishment would be tricky.
If water penetrates above the threshold, adjust the fit against the shoe. If the problem persists, even when the shoe is properly fitted, you may want to consider adding a porch roof or awning above to shelter the entrance. But it’s an expensive proposition that hopefully you won’t need.