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Water coming into our living room from the front door.

Answered by Jeffrey ~ January 7, 2011 ~ Comments

I just moved into a studio that has water coming into our living room from the front door. How do I direct the rainwater away from into my house. I am hoping not to have to regrade. Any ideas?

Joey ~ San Diego, California

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Joey, The first step is to make sure the water coming under your front door is a drainage problem and not a leak from another source. If you have actually seen water pool at your front door and eventually leak in, then it's obviously a drainage issue, but if the water just shows up inside your home after a rain, it could be a roof leak or a problem with your front door flashing.

The next time you have a heavy rain, which might not be often in San Diego, California, you should watch your front walk to see if drainage is causing water to run towards your front door. If it isn't obvious that's what the problem is, after everything dries out I would try a water hose on the front of your home above the front door area. Many front doors have features above them and if they aren't installed properly, the only thing preventing water from entering the home is often some caulk which eventually dries out and cracks.

If water starts entering your home after this exercise, use a stepladder to see where the caulking or flashing has failed and re-caulk it with a silicone caulk or have a contractor flash it properly. If you don't get any leaking with the hose above the door, try using the hose on the roof above the door. A two story home will normally show evidence of a roof leak before it gets to the first floor, but a one story home can allow water to run down through the interior cavity of the wall and out onto your floor. If it turns out to be a roof leak, you might want to have a roofing contractor take a look to determine the proper repair.

If you are sure the water is coming under the door, then you should take a look at your grading. I don't know what type of set up you have at the front of your home; if you have a stoop or a step up, then grading might not be the issue, but if you have a walkway that comes to your door and it's at the same height as your first floor when it meets your home, then grading is definitely a problem. Try caulking your front door threshold and you may even be able to purchase a higher threshold for your door if the water is running over the threshold and under the door. However if the grading is causing the water to run towards you home and front door, any repair short of regrading is going to be a temporary fix at best.

If there is something about the site that makes it difficult or exceedingly expensive to regrade, you might try installing a trench drain in your walkway or in front of your door to catch the water before it enters your home. You can make a trench drain with some concrete and plastic or metal grates or purchase one already made. You attach piping to the side of the drain and it runs below grade to an area away from your home. Many people use trench drains in front of their garages if they're below street grade and the asphalt drive allows water to run toward the garage entrance.

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