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Large Gap Under my New Exterior Pre-Hung Door! Please Help


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07-06-12, 09:24 PM   #1  
Large Gap Under my New Exterior Pre-Hung Door! Please Help

I discovered after coming home from work today that my brand new, expensive, exterior pre-hung MDF door has a gap of about 3/4" at the bottom. The attached pictures show the gap. But, I can tell you that it is wide enough to allow light to shine through the door and air to move through it.

I have been doing home renovation long enough to know that when I ask the contractors what went wrong, they will blame the door manufacturer. And, of course, the door manufacturer will blame the contractor.

So, I thought some of you might help me shed some light on what is going on.
1. Why do I have such a large gap?
2. Is the contractor responsible? Or is the door manufacturer responsible for fixing it?
3. What should/can be done to close the gap?
4. Finally, the door has a sweep attached to it. I don't remember that being on the door when it was delivered (but it is possible it was), and I am wondering if the contractor slapped that on there to hide his shoddy work. Do brand new doors usually come with a factory-installed sweep?

(One final disclaimer, the work at my home will continue for another three to four weeks. So, it is possible that additional work needs to be done on the door. I just cannot imagine what could be done to close the gap now that the door has been installed.)

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07-06-12, 10:55 PM   #2  
This is the contractor's problem. There should be solid wood under the threshold. i see nothing to keep the thing from sagging. If the threshold is level and the gap is the same all the way across the door bottom then the weather stripping on the bottom of the door needs replaced. Sometimes the middle section of the threshold is adjustable in height. There should be screws in it that may be covered by a weather seal of some kind.I am not sure a 3/4 inch gap can be closed by this method though.
No new doors do not usually come with sweeps factory attached.
I would not mess with trying to fix this myself. Tell the contractor you need it fixed. If he says it is a bad door then ask him to replace it with a new one or call the place the door was purchased from and tell them you want them and the representative of the door company to come out and inspect the door.

 
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07-07-12, 04:09 AM   #3  
Welcome to the forums! I wholeheartedly agree with Ben on this. It was obviously not a contractor familiar with doors at all. If it was a door problem, the contractor should never have been installed, but returned for a replacement. Why was there no sealant under the threshold?? This is totally not acceptable.

 
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07-07-12, 05:01 AM   #4  
Ben and Chandler:

Thanks for your replies. I am not so worried about the area under the threshold, as I know the project is not finished, and the contractor can still apply something. I am much more concerned about the gap between the bottom of the door and the threshold, however.

So, it appears that I should prepare myself for a fight with the contractor... Sigh.

Chandler, you mentioned that this contractor must not be familiar with doors at all. It is actually one of the most reputable (and expensive) firms in the DC area. They just don't seem to care about doing a good job.

 
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07-07-12, 05:06 AM   #5  
Tell the contractor you need it fixed. If he says it is a bad door then ask him to replace it with a new one or call the place the door was purchased from and tell them you want them and the representative of the door company to come out and inspect the door.
That's what I would do. If you do have to get the door rep involved - try to coordinate it so he'll come while the contractor is on the job.

As Larry mentioned, there should be sealant under the threshold. That needs to be done during the installation process! It helps to keep driving rain or melting snow from seeping into the house.


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07-07-12, 05:29 AM   #6  
Gigi7, if this contractor was familiar with doors, they would have never installed a door that didn't fit in the frame properly, nor would they have done it in such a manner. The company that contracted the job may be the "best", but their installer was not the brightest bulb in the bunch, or, as you said, just didn't care.
Marksr's suggestion regarding the rep/installer being onsite at the same time will take you out of the picture and let them battle it out to YOUR satisfaction.
I certainly don't know why a sweep was installed on a new door. They aren't needed. NOW, if the contractor cut the door off.......

 
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07-07-12, 02:58 PM   #7  
Gigi, is there a threshold under the door? I've looked at your pictures several times, and it looks to me like the old threshold was removed and no new one was installed. Is it just my eyesight?

 
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07-07-12, 06:02 PM   #8  
Nashkat

Thanks for your message. The old threshold was removed. But the new door is prehung, and I thought it came with a threshold. But I am certainly not expert in construction or in construction terminology.

I appreciate any additional suggestions you might have.

 
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07-08-12, 04:11 AM   #9  
If you were to post another pic with better lighting or maybe with the door open we would be better able to tell what you have. The threshold is the piece of metal [used to be wood] that seals the space between the bottom of the door and the floor when closed, what you might put your foot on when the door is open.


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07-08-12, 08:10 AM   #10  
marksr;

Thanks for your reply.

I have uploaded three additional pictures. They are as follows:
* A picture of the threshold
* A close up picture of the gap, again from the interior side. (The black bar seen in that picture is the sweep, that is installed on the exterior side of the door.)
* A picture of the gap in the door as seen from the interior side

Thanks to everyone for your replies. I appreciate any further advice you might have, since I am meeting with the contractor and door rep on Tuesday. They will eat me alive if I don't know what questions to ask and what demands I should make.

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07-08-12, 01:00 PM   #11  
That definitely needs work! I'm a painter not a carpenter but I think the wooden part of the threshold is adjustable and should close that gap. The bigger question is it looks like the threshold has an air gap under it and that is not acceptable. Does it bend up and down some when you step on it?


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07-08-12, 01:38 PM   #12  
Yes, the threshold does bend up and down when we step on it. But, I imagine that can be easily fixed. And, since I know work is not finished at my house, I imagine that will be fixed. (We are also being careful not to step on it, lest it crack.) What I am concerned about is the 3/4" gap between the door slab and threshold. I have read that thresholds can be adjusted. I don't know if this one has already been adjusted. But, even if it has not been adjusted yet, I have read that the adjustment generally does not exceed 1/4". If the threshold cannot be adjusted upwards, I am not sure what can be done to close the gap. And, I am not sure who is responsible, the manufacturer or the contractor, for solving the issue.

 
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07-08-12, 09:24 PM   #13  
* A close up picture of the gap, again from the interior side. (The black bar seen in that picture is the sweep, that is installed on the exterior side of the door.)
I'm not sure what I'm looking at in this second picture, but I can clearly see the sweep on the exterior side of the door in the first picture.

That is just plain wrong. Let us know when the contractor and the door company rep have successfully fixed everything. That would include trimming the door jambs so that the threshold sits solidly on the floor and is caulked underneath, and is adjusted to meet and seal the door without any sweep needed. This is, after all, a new door assembly. It needs to be properly installed.

 
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07-08-12, 11:06 PM   #14  
I personally find it insulting that the "professionals" in the residential construction world think that most home owners are too stupid to recognize sloppy work. Time to file a few complaints with the BBB and Angie's List.

Just another argument for getting good at DIY, I guess.

 
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07-09-12, 03:08 AM   #15  
I concur with all said. That is really not a "sweep", but a rain drip cap, since it is installed on the outside. A sweep would have been installed on the inside. Unless it came on the door, it ain't right. Both parties need to come to an agreement before it is set permanently. I note, too, there is a slope to the floor. It appears the door is set square and plumb (possibly), but the floor has issues. That may make for an unhappy install as well.

 
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07-09-12, 12:36 PM   #16  
* A close up picture of the gap, again from the interior side. (The black bar seen in that picture is the sweep, that is installed on the exterior side of the door.)
OK. I think I finally got what the second picture in your new set is showing us. Reading it from the top down, it looks like the interior side of the door, the rain drip cap (Thanks for clarifying that, Larry) that's installed on the outside, a sizable gap to daylight, the wooden inside edge of the new threshold, the brick sill course and the hallway flooring.

If so, then yes, the installer and/or the door manufacturer need to do whatever is required to eliminate that gap to daylight and, if at all possible, eliminate the need for the rain drip cap.

But what about that space between the threshold and the flooring? there may be a bit of a support gap - you mentioned that "the threshold does bend up and down when we step on it," and that looks like the place where Chandler noted "a slope to the floor." That looks like a pre-existing condition that will need to be resolved. What filled that space before? A shaped piece of wood that's been removed? I'm guessing that the fix for that will wind up with the threshold supported and weather sealed. I hope so. But I don't see how it will result in having the threshold meet the flooring at the intended level - i.e., flat against each other. It looks like a trip hazard, frankly.

Do you and your contractor have a plan for dealing with that?

 
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07-10-12, 08:15 PM   #17  
So, here is the latest installment in my door saga.

As I expected, the contractor blamed the mill that sold me the door which blamed the door manufacturer which blamed the mill which blamed the contractor. The circle of recriminations continued for nearly four hours. Finally, the blame was laid on the painter, who allegedly removed the sweep to paint the door and removed the rubber seal from the sweep (I am not sure why he would have done this...) and then replaced the sweep without the rubber seal. I don't believe this theory, since I don't understand why the painter would have removed the rubber seal from the sweep. With the rubber seal installed in the sweep, the gap has been mostly closed, as you can see in the attached pictures.

Two problems persist with the door:
1. There still appears to be a small crack between the door and threshold.

2. The sweep bar was cut in a very rudimentary fashion. Besides leaving a jagged, unpainted, unsightly edge, the way the sweep was cut is causing the jagged edges to scrape the weatherstripping.
The mill put the door in the jamb and sweep on the door, so they are responsible for correcting this. I emailed them early this morning, and I have yet to hear from them.

But, the contractor woes continue. And, I think what my contractor did today will top any bad contractor story. I came home from work today to find that my downstairs toilet was clogged. The carpenter and his assistant were gone, but the painter (who is a friend and whom we hired directly for the job) told me that he had gone to use the toilet earlier but there was a bloody paper towel in it. He was not sure what had happened, but he and his assistant used the upstairs toilet the rest of the day. He did offer to plunge the toilet, but he wanted to show me the toilet before doing that.

Shortly after the painter left, I was in the kitchen looking at the carpenters' progress. And, what did I find?: bloody smears all over the floor next to pieces of cut sheet metal. One of the carpenters must have cut himself while working in the kitchen and then thrown into the toilet bowl a piece of paper towel he used to stem the bleeding.

But that is not the worst part of the story. My husband went to throw out the trash, and at the bottom of the trash can he found some crumpled toilet tissue. Thinking that it might provide further evidence of the blood smears, he carefully fished out the toilet paper. Instead of blood on the toilet paper, we found what appeared to be excrement. Since our dog walker confirmed he did not dispose of our dog's excrement in our trash today, we can only surmise this was human excrement.

Our powers of deduction allow us to put together the following scenario. Somebody working at our house today cut himself in our kitchen. The injured person rushed to the bathroom and used the paper towel to stem the bleeding. Disconcerted or in pain, the person then threw the paper towel in the toilet instead of the immediately adjacent trash can. The paper towel was left in the toilet, where it was discovered by the painter's assistant. At some point later during the day, someone (and my guess is that it was the injured person) decided to flush the paper towel rather than fish it out of the bowl. Later that same person or someone else, not knowing that the toilet was clogged, needed to relieve himself. When he realized the toilet would not flush, he dumped the soiled toilet paper in our trash can.

And, this is why BridgeMan45 is right: we should all be DIYers.

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07-10-12, 09:32 PM   #18  
I'm hearing that listening to "the circle of recriminations... for nearly four hours" didn't did not make your day more wonderful. I'm also hearing that discovering the clogged toilet, the blood and the excrement didn't either. Nor DH's. That's a bit more than most of us have to deal with as part of home improvement!

About your new door: It doesn't have a sweep attached to it. Sweeps are draft blockers that are installed on the inside face, and are retrofitted to counter the effects of wear, sagging, etc. As Larry said, that thing attached to the outside of your door is a rain drip cap. As he also said, "Unless [the rain drip cap] came on the door, it ain't right." I think you're saying yours did.

You also say
With the rubber seal installed in the sweep, the gap has been mostly closed, as you can see in the attached pictures.
and that's not what I see. What I see is that the has been mostly covered, except for a bit on the right-hand (looking out) end, or the latch side.

Here's what't not right about that:
  • The gap shouldn't exist. The door should meet the threshold, or nearly so.
  • The rain drip cap, if there is one, should wind up lying on the threshold.
  • Any opening to daylight, including the one between the rain drip cap, the bottom of the door, the door jamb and the threshold, is an air leak - a pathway for warm and cold air to flow in and out. It needs to be eliminated.
  • Yeah, the cut on the drip cap is ugly. The installer may have waited longer than he would have liked to replace the blade in his knife. They agreed to correct that, right?
And that's an interesting infill under the threshold. What's up with the flooring being so low, and slanted, anyway?

 
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07-11-12, 04:48 AM   #19  
Finally, the blame was laid on the painter, who allegedly removed the sweep to paint the door and removed the rubber seal from the sweep (I am not sure why he would have done this...)
So what does your painter say? When spraying metal doors I've removed the rubber seal IF it comes off easily. Most of them have a groove that they slide in and out of so I don't see how the painter removing it would cause any issues. They slide back in just as easily as they slid out. Every now in then I've run across a door that had the seal stapled in. In those instances I've just taped the seal.


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07-11-12, 09:06 AM   #20  
I'd like to clarify something.....

The term "door sweep" is used in different ways. I guess in the strictest sense...a "sweep" is indeed attached to the inside. But if you look at some of the sellers of these products...even they use different terms for the same thing. Some say door bottom with rubber insert, but they look just the same as one labeled door sweep. Some incorporate a rain drip cap in the door bottom some don't. The rubber piece that fits in the door bottom is sometimes called a door sweep insert.

In actual fact...a "sweep" installed on the interior doesn't sweep across anything...it normally seals flush against the back edge of the threshold. The rubber insert on a door bottom actually sweeps across the top of the threshold as the door is closed.

All I'm saying is terminology can be confusing. Heck...I never heard of "sheetrock" til I moved to the South....in OH it was always "drywall" and the people who installed it were "drywallers".

As to the gap at the side, looks like the rubber insert is cut too short and they need to install the little wedges that should have come with the door.


I guess it hasn't been asked.....but why an MDF door? I didn't know they still made them for exterior use. Could we see a pic of the whole door (since you are an expert at posting pics now...lol)?


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07-11-12, 09:12 AM   #21  
Wow, not noticing those 3 letters does change things a little. Make sure the painter primes/paints the top and the bottom if it's accessible. With all the doors I've painted over the years I don't think I've ever painted and exterior MDF door..... or would it be the same as the old masonite exterior doors?


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07-21-12, 02:26 PM   #22  
Hello everyone. Sorry about about my late reply. My project came to a grinding halt last week. We hit the roof and demanded a new team when the carpenter, after we confronted him about the stopped toilet and the poop, got angry with us. And, told us HE didn't have to take it. His firm assigned me to a new team. But, anything that was not on the contract, I have decided to hire out to other companies. So, I have spent most of last week getting new quotes and rescheduling things.

Nashkat1: Thanks for your advice. I was able to get all the things you pointed out addressed. The gap was sealed, a properly-sealing rubber seal was placed, and the rain drip was filed down. The door issues appear to have been corrected.

Marksr: Thanks for the reminder about painting all sides of the MDF door. Indeed, the warranty document I signed pointed that out. But, thanks for jogging my memory, since I signed that document a few months ago.

Gunguy: I bought an MDF door because it was the most cost-effective way to get a door that was flush on the inside and paneled on the outside. The house's exterior must conform the historic preservation guidelines, but I want a modern interior. You can take a look at the (unfinished) door interior and exterior in the attached pictures.

Thanks again to everyone for all the advice! Your assistance was invaluable, as I negotiated to get my door installed properly.

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07-21-12, 02:37 PM   #23  
Thanks for the response...and good luck with the rest of the project. Hope it goes smoother than everything to date.


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07-21-12, 03:00 PM   #24  
Thanks for letting us know, Gigi.

 
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08-03-12, 03:50 PM   #25  
he dumped the soiled toilet paper in our trash can.
Just got back from San Antonio, TX, and saw something that reminded me of this comment...

We ate at a Chinese restaurant that was run by a Hispanic family, and in the public bathroom was a sign that said "do not flush toilet paper". Apparently in some areas of the south, especially south of the border, the tissue is discarded in the waste basket, not flushed down the toilet. I've also heard similar stories from others in my area who have said some of the immigrant workers don't know that we can flush our t/paper up here.

 
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