Pella entry door leaks air at threshold

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  #1  
Old 12-29-15, 08:22 PM
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Pella entry door leaks air at threshold

I just had a new Pella Series entry door with two full light side lights installed as a replacement door on my home. It is a beautiful door and the fit up is really nice. The contractor (certified Pella Contractor that I have used off and on for 25 or so years) installed this and it appears to be installed correctly....everything is plumb. My problem is there is a fair amount of air coming in from between the bottom of the door seal and the threshold. This air is coming in in basically two places. First at the area where the bottom of the door meets the vertical side light frame (kinda right below the door handle on the threshold) and the second area is right in the middle of the threshold in an area about 4 inches long. I have looked at the seal on the bottom of the door and it looks ok. The threshold looks ok also and is level. I might mention that the threshold on the Pella Series door is not adjustable. Don't know why Pella would do this as their cheaper Encompass Series door has an adjustable threshold. I would like to know if any of you that are knowledgeable on the Pella Series doors have ever encountered this problem and how your fixed it. Pella service is coming out on Jan. 15 to look at it. I would really appreciate any and all comments on this issue.
Thanks!!
 
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  #2  
Old 12-29-15, 08:53 PM
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Must be their bottom of the barrel door. Bought it at a box store, I assume?

I've never seen a Pella door without a adjustable threshold. Maybe include a picture of the threshold. Double check that the door is plumb... not with a level... just open the door a crack. Look up and down the door. If the crack is 1/8" on bottom, it should also be 1/8" in the middle near the latch and at the top. If it isn't, and the gap is larger at the top or bottom, then the door isn't plumb.

There is also supposed to be a fuzzy weatherstrip near the bottom. I'm assuming the air is coming from the threshold... not under the frame. The door should be set in a bed of sealant to prevent air from coming under the frame. But that can get skipped or missed.

You can open the door and slip a piece of paper (folded I half the long way) onto the threshold the close the door on it. Then pull the paper out. It should pull out but should have some resistance as it does. Like I said, can't recall a Pella door without a adjustable threshold.
 
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Old 12-29-15, 09:08 PM
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Here is a link to a Pella document. Can you verify that your sill is like the one pictured on page one and labeled "vent sill"?

http://media.pella.com/professional/.../EPEL_XSEC.pdf
 
  #4  
Old 12-30-15, 05:20 AM
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Thanks for the info, XSleeper. I do believe my door is exactly like the one pictured on Page one and labeled "vent sill".
 
  #5  
Old 12-30-15, 05:46 AM
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The door is not bottom of the line. It is the Pella Series door and I purchased it from Pella construction sales and had it installed by a contractor I have used several times who is a Pella Certified installer.
 
  #6  
Old 12-30-15, 07:44 AM
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Well you are right about it not having an adjustable threshold... Pella instructions state:

Encompass and Premium Entry Doors Only:

E. Check for sufficient weatherstrip contact between the bottom weatherstrip and the
threshold. Close the door on a dollar bill or sheet of paper located above an adjustment
screw; light friction should be felt when pulling the paper out indicating a good seal is
being made. If there is not, adjust the threshold. Repeat for each adjustment screw.

So yours is not. Maybe bottom of the line was a bit harsh, the Encompass is their bottom line anyway... but the Architectural series is the "premium" door. Regardless, I agree it's stupid to not have a adjustable threshold... but this isn't their top of the line door.

Like I said, I would assume the door is racked slightly out of plumb, the weatherstrip must not be contacting the threshold and making a tight seal on that corner. Checking the line of sight is the first, easiest way to check it. No level required.

If it is racked out of plumb, only way to fix it is to adjust the door in or out within the plane of the wall. Some doors have a hinge adjustment... just can't recall if the Pella door is one of them. Seems like they come with plastic hinge shims, but that doesn't help correct a door that's racked. But if the door is plumb and it's just not sealing tight to the threshold (check with folded paper) then either a hinge shim or an adjusting screw on the top and middle shim would let the door down on the latch side. See https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sour...k0n3S4pZU9ZL6w
 
  #7  
Old 12-30-15, 08:19 AM
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This door has adjustable hinges, but I do not think this is the fix. I spent some more time this morning looking at the door, and have come to the conclusion that the door is warped at the bottom maybe 1/3 of the door. I will attach a few pics of what I am looking at. The door seals tightly at the top face of the door, but does not seal at all on the vertical face seal on about the lower 1/3 of the door. I have put a level on about every place I can and it is pretty much centered on the bubble everywhere on the door and the framing. Maybe my pics will give you a better idea of what is going on. Thanks for your help. You will see that the door does not seem to be all the way closed at the bottom 1/3 of the door.

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Last edited by rdgallo; 12-30-15 at 08:42 AM.
  #8  
Old 12-30-15, 08:51 AM
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Put the level away and do what I suggested. From the inside, open the door a crack. Pull it open about 1 3/4... When the door is just starting to clear the jamb and you can see light, stop and hold it right there. Look up and diwn the door. Tell us what you see. Is that gap of light straight or not?

With the door closed, from the inside, look at the gap above the door. Is it straight or is it tighter on one end than the other?
 
  #9  
Old 12-30-15, 09:54 AM
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Ok. The level is put away. I did what you said, and yes, there is a wider gap at the top of the door than the bottom...Probably 1/8 inch difference. With the door closed, and looking at the gap above the door, the gap is exactly the same at the hinge side as it is at the door handle side. I still believe there is a little bit of adjustment to be done using the hinge adjustment, but not nearly enough to fix the issue. Also if I adjust the hinges to get the vertical gap better, then the gap at the top will not longer be the same all the way across the width of the door at the top. I believe the door is warped and that is why it will not seal at the door handle side bottom 1/3 of the door and seals tightly at the top 2/3 of the door....but I am just a simple home owner and not a contractor. I do have some basic understanding of how things are supposed to work as I am a machinist by trade and was a shop rat at Caterpillar for 35+years. XSleeper, picture this...Pull on the door to shut it and it is sealing tightly at the top both vertically and horizontally. It continues to seal correctly vertically until right below the door handle and then the tightness against the seal begins to loosen until it is not even touching at the bottom of the door. (it looks like you need to pull the door shut another 1/8" inch or more to get it to seal like it does at the top). Although I put the level away, I still don't understand why it is not a good tool for getting something plumb. Not questioning your wisdom, but just don't understand. Anyway, thanks for spending time with me trouble shooting this issue. It seems every time I purchase something, I get the only defective product made. Must be a black cloud over me. Ha!
 
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Old 12-30-15, 07:42 PM
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there is a wider gap at the top of the door than the bottom
That is the opposite of what I was expecting. When you said there was an air leak at the bottom I expected the gap to be wider near the bottom of the door, not the top.

I believe the door is warped
Its a possibility. Full glass doors don't have as much structure to keep the door flat... so the glass and glazing is about all there is to keep the door from warping. If you place a long straightedge on the exterior side of the door you should be able to see if the door slab itself is bowed.

If you place a 78" level on the exterior side of the door, and the level makes contact with the door at the top and bottom... but in the middle you can practically stick your finger between the door and your level... then yeah, the door is bowed!

I still don't understand why it is not a good tool for getting something plumb. Not questioning your wisdom, but just don't understand.
No problem. Any installer knows that as much as you might like to install a door "perfectly plumb", at the end of the day, you are going to forget what the bubble says and swing the door to the frame, like I explained above. You say it's plumb. I believe you. However in reading a level there will always be a little margin for human error. You read it one way, someone else sees something different. Maybe my level reads different than yours. Maybe yours reads differently when you turn it end for end. (Not all levels are accurate... not all levels read the same, even though they should, believe it or not) Maybe the wall that the door is being put into is not plumb. And then you have the inconsistencies of the door itself. Installers use the level until the door is set.. they get it as plumb as the level allows. But guess what... every once in a while you get a door that won't contact the weatherstrip correctly at the top or bottom... so at that point you have to forget the level and tweak the frame so that the door seals tight. If the level says its plumb, but when you swing the door you find that the door and jamb are not aligned (straight with one another) you need to adjust the 4 corners of tge door in or out a slight amount until it is aligned. Make sense?

Now, I understood you to say there is an air leak at the threshold. That tells me the door is either 1). Out of square, and the door needs to drop lower on the latch side. If this is the case, a folded piece of paper under the door would slip out easily. Or... 2). The door frame is racked, causing the door to twist away from the weatherstrip and threshold on the lower corner. However you said the gap of light was larger on the top, which means the door is twisted the opposite of the way I imagined it would be.

If the gap is at the latch only, the door could be warped. The straightedge will tell you that. But it could also be that you just need to adjust the strike plate so that the door closes tighter. When the door is closed, is it flush with the surrounding jamb (same plane as the surface of the wall) or does it seem to be sticking in a bit?
 
  #11  
Old 12-30-15, 08:18 PM
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XSleeper, I will get back with you tomorrow after I look at the door some more. I might have told you wrong on the gap on the door. The gap may be just the opposite of what I told you. It might be larger at the bottom. I will double check tomorrow morning. Also, your description of "racked" sounds just like what I am seeing on this door. What causes racking? would "racking" cause only the bottom 1/3 of the door to pull away from the vertical face seal and of course the threshold face seal? As far as the strike plate needing adjusting, I don't feel that is the issue as I cannot push the door any tighter when I close it. I don't have a 78 inch level/straight edge, but can use a tight string to check straightness. I will let you know what I find tomorrow. Thanks again for all your help.
 
  #12  
Old 12-30-15, 08:27 PM
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XSleeper, please take another look at my pics. The first one is of the vertical face seal at the top of the door. Notice how tight the door is against it (good seal). The next pic is of the same face seal at the bottom of the door. Notice the door is not touching it hardly at all. Then look at the door sill pics. Notice that on the hinge side (left side of the pictures) that the door is fully closed and you don't see any of the yellow colored threshold. Then look to the handle side and you will see the door stops short of contacting the face seal and the yellow threshold is visible (about 1/8 to 3/16 of an inch. It is almost like the door is bent to where when it meets the threshold seal on the hinge side it is right and then bows away from the threshold on the handle side.
 
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Old 12-30-15, 08:40 PM
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What causes racking? would "racking" cause only the bottom 1/3 of the door to pull away from the vertical face seal and of course the threshold face seal?
Walls are supposed to be plumb. When the wall on one side of the door is plumb and the wall on the other side of the door is not, that means the door is likely to be twisted, if its installed flush with the interior wall surface. (As it would normally be if the walls were plumb) Twisted ( or racked i guess i call it sometimes) is when both sides of the door are not in the same plane. And yes, it would cause exactly what you describe... but for it to be on the lower 1/3, the gap of light would be larger on the bottom when you crack the door open.

What causes it? An installer that either didn't check the swing of the door to the jamb... and just went by what his level said... or who knew about it but mistakenly thought it was still sealing okay.

So basically, if you find the gap is larger on the bottom latch side (left side when viewed from the inside) that would mean the following small adjustments would need to be made: the ENTIRE door unit (and sidelights) would need to get tweaked... left bottom corner in, right bottom corner out, left top corner out, right top corner in. By tweaking each corner just 1/16", you would get 1/4 of adjustment in how plumb the door will hang where it meets the jamb. See how it works? Im using this example to help you see how it works... not saying this is exactly what needs to be done. You usually make these adjustments while still trying your best to keep the door as close as possible to the plane of the wall.

please take another look at my pics
I noticed those things. That's why I was expecting the door to be gapped open at the bottom more than the top when you opened it a crack.

If an installer just installs a door flush with the interior surface of the drywall and is in a hurry this sort of thing can happen. Not dissing your installer, but ultimately it's an installation problem. I been doing it 25 yrs too.

Nothing to do with the hinge adjustment.
 
  #14  
Old 12-31-15, 10:57 AM
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Everything you said makes sense and describes exactly what is going on with this door. The ironic part of all this is I showed the contractor how the old door set (interiorly) with one side needing extra caulk between the trim and the inside finished wall. I asked him why this was this way. He said that the wall was probably twisted and they had to put the door in to compensate for it. I would just about bet the wall on one side is slightly different than the wall on the other side and he didn't compensate for it. By the way, the gap in the door is wider at the bottom. Sorry I told you the top. I checked the door and it is not warped either. Thanks again for your input. Too bad you aren't in my area, I would hire you to fix this thing. lol.
Ron
 
  #15  
Old 01-02-16, 09:19 AM
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Quick update on this issue. My contractor was out this morning to look at my issue. He identified the problem. The bottom of the door (latch side) is bowed inward (toward the inside of the house away from the sealing areas) about 3/16". The Pella service personnel will be here to have a look on Jan. 15. My contractor said to let him know the time they will be here on the 15th and he will be here to discuss the issue with them and support me. I can't ask for anymore than that. Thanks again, XSleeper, for your input on this issue.
 
  #16  
Old 01-02-16, 12:26 PM
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Yes, we'll placing a 78" level on the door (as a straightedge... not paying attention to the bubble) should make it obvious if it's warped. Glad ur getting it figured out.
 
  #17  
Old 01-05-16, 11:13 AM
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I just wanted to update this post. Hats off to Pella Service for coming out to look at the door issue two weeks earlier than originally scheduled. Also a big thank you to my contractor who came out at the same time the Pella service personnel were here to support me. Due to the support of my contractor and the good service personnel Pella sent out, I will be getting a new door in about 2-3 weeks to replace this warped door panel. It is unfortunate, Pella sent out a defective door, but I am impressed with their support thus far. By the way, Pella did not pay me to make positive comments about them. I just felt it necessary, as in today's world, it is rare to receive this kind of product support.
 
  #18  
Old 10-17-16, 04:39 AM
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Pella Door Issues Continue

I am back again as I continue to have problems with this door and am currently working with a Pella engineer to resolve them. Pella has been really slow providing resolution, so , I thought I would ask for input here. I really have two issues; one is an engineering one and one I believe to be installation related. I am looking for some input on the issue that I believe is an installation caused problem. My door does not seal tightly at the bottom striker side. It is tight at the top of the striker side seal and is barely touching at the bottom. The door also swings closed after I open it about 2/3 of the way. I believe this is caused by the door being installed out of plumb. Can one of you please let me know if I am off base on my logic or what you think is causing these issues? Please note that the sealing issue was previously addressed by replacing a warped door. This door I have now is not warped, but still does not seal correctly.
Thanks in advance.
 
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Old 10-17-16, 05:10 AM
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I think I answered all that in post #13.
 
  #20  
Old 10-19-16, 03:39 PM
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Thanks, XSleeper. I should have gone back in here and read the entire posts. I apologize. It had been almost a year, but I should have looked. You know, if anyone can find a contractor that would screw something up, it would be me. lol Thanks again for the input.
 
  #21  
Old 10-28-16, 12:47 AM
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If the door opens inward across a flat floor (not a step), a very cheap, maybe kitchy product that might do the "band-aid" trick might be the Twin Draft Guard
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDKt_73UzzI
 
  #22  
Old 10-28-16, 04:43 AM
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Thanks for the info, Globallocky. I am still working with Pella trying to get resolution. They are coming out next month to look at the door. I actually have two problems.....one is a design issue where the rain screen seal at the bottom of the door and side lights has curled/warped after the sun got it warm and the other is (in my opinion) an installation issue. I am attaching a couple of pics of the rain screen issue which is a known issue Pella has been looking at. It is pretty sad when a company designs and produces a door that has rubber seals that curl as soon as the sun beats down on them. Anyway, thanks for your info.
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  #23  
Old 12-10-16, 07:13 AM
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Well, Pella came out and agreed that my door is installed out of plumb. They also said they talked with "my" contractor that installed the door and he told them he refused to do anything about it. This is fine with me as I do not want his services. I told the Pella folks that I would hire another contractor to reinstall the door correctly. They agreed to pay half of the cost to do this up to but $150. Could you please tell me what would be a fair price to correct the installation so the door is plumb? I beleve all that needs to be done is remove the interior trim, cut through or remove mounting screws/nails and expanding foam insulation cut through exterior caulking. And then push the top of the door in 1/4 inch and put screws and insulation in. Then reinstall the interior trim and recaulk the outside. I know if complication are encountered, the cost could be more than normal. I am just wanting a ballpark figure for a non complicated fix. Thank you!
 
  #24  
Old 12-10-16, 07:42 AM
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The door has a nailing fin. So it's likely that the fin is laying flat on the wall and even if you cut the caulk on the outside, remove interior trim, and cut through the spray foam insulation, the door may not want to move. The fin is sandwiched between the sheathing and the exterior trim, so it isn't going to move much unless you also remove the exterior trim so that it's free. If I was doing it, I don't think there is any way I could guarantee I could fix it, nor any way I could give a firm price. If you lived 1 mile from my home and I could do it in less than 3 hrs, and it is as simpke as you think it is, yeah $150 would be a reasonable price.

However, having installed doors for 25 yrs, and knowing how finicky they can be, it is rarely as straight forward as you say. In my experience, a door like that sometimes needs to be taken out and reset. Now you are talking a lot more time and expense... plus the risk of damaging the door.

It is just really hard to give advice on a door over the internet. If I could look at it, put a level on it etc, then i might see and understand what adjustments need to be made.

I know one thing that multi unit pella doors do... and that is they don't always stay in a straight line at the sill. Checking the nose of the sill with a 78" level to see if they are all in a straight line would be one of the first things I would check. If they are crooked, I would say the door has to come out.

If you put a 78" level on the drywall on each side of the door, and the bubble reads drastically differently on either side, the door might need to come out. Rather than making ALL the adjustment on one corner of the door frame, the door really ought to be taken out and reset so that you could make a minor 1/8" adjustment at each of the 4 corners of the door... which would be one way to correct a door that is up to 1/2" out of plumb, rather than expecting to do it all at one corner (as you suggest).

The other problem with making all the adjustment at one corner is that now you have really goofed up your trim, which will now no longer lay flat on the wall... and it affects the reveal on the exterior trim... your door will be sucked in or pushed out, depending on which way it needs to go.

Can't give you a very firm price estimate since that varies from place to place. I know that around here, Pella charges $75 just to show up. Ballpark figure, $200 if it blows half a day for one man. If the door needs to come out, it would be closer to $500 and would take 2 men.

Why not have Pella arrange for one of their service men to fix it? Sounds like they have already give you 2 hours credit toward the repair.
 
  #25  
Old 12-10-16, 03:33 PM
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Thanks, xSleeper. Sounds like correcting this door will not be easy. I need to find a contractor that is really good at this kind of work and I really don't know how to go about finding that person. I might do what you said by contacting Pella, but in the past, they didn't have anyone that is good at what they do either...or I just have not found that person. I now wish I had just purchased a cheap door somewhere and had a handy man put it in. Instead, I made the mistake of purchasing a nice, expensive Pella product and then hiring a contractor I had used in the past that I felt was really good. Turns out to be a mistake all the way around. Anyway, thanks to you for the detailed response. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.
 
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