I have 4 patio doors. The builder did not recess them below the slab
so the leak water under the track ruining carpets and rotting the
walls at the end of the tracks. I am intending to replace at least
one of these doors. When I do this I want to notch the slab so the
replacement door sits below the upper surface of the slab. But,
there's very little room to do this. A deck comes almost up to the
slab on the outside.
How do I cut a neat notch for the door track? It must be fairly level
and I would like the cuts on the inside edge and at each end to be
neat and square.
I assume I use a diamond blade on a circular saw to cut the long
inside cut but how to make the end cuts without cutting the deck and
how to get the concrete block out of the notch area?
Here's a crude drawing of the situation
Jim, if you recess them below the slab, won't the problem be worse?
Because now you are trapping water in the track below the slab line.
It seems it would be better to leave the track above the slab. Is the
water coming from rainstorms?
"jim evans" >
I have 4 patio doors. The builder did not recess them below the slab
the deck side of the slot.. That would collect water, and corrode the door
frame, as well as continue to leak. There was indeed something wrong with
the installation, but just what that was it what you need to address, before
repair. Suggest you have more than one patio door installer by, with good
local recommendations, to give you an estimate, and ask what they think is
wrong with the install, and what they propose to do. Also might consult DIY
patio door books.. You could also consider doing minor repairs to the base
jamb, then install a permanent roof or awning over the door, keeping most
rain off the doors.
Looking at google, there are many door install guidelines available.
One is at
If you look at the top figure in my sketch you will see there's about
a small (3/8" -1/2") gap between the slab and the deck.
I had a professional installer tell me the door track should sit in a
recess in the slab. This recess should be from 1" to 1 1/4" lower
than the slab. This is what prevents the water intrusion. They
cannot simply sit on the same grade as the slab or they will always do
what mine is doing.
That's almost a direct quote.
Well he's wrong every door that I have had in my houses has sat on the same
level as the floor it leads to. If this was a traditional door how would it
open? It would so the guy is wrong in that statement. I have installed
sliding doors and what needs to be done is a very good caulk job between the
bottom of the sill and the slab/underlayment to prevent water intrusion this
caulk as I did it ran up and in the joint between the slab/underlayment and
the jack studs (the ones on either side of the door holding the header) so
it wouldn't ruin them over time.
Like someone else posted are you sure the weep hole are pointing in the
correct direction, there should be small slots on the exterior of the door
every so often to get rid of water? All that might need to be done is when
you take the door out that your replacing look at the junction between the
bottom of the sill and the slab. Make sure the door was installed correctly
to begin with. If it wasn't repair the other ones or if its a new house go
after the builder to repair them.
Good luck, Rich
And look at pan flashing below the door sill.
It is formed sort of like a dust pan - sides and back turned up so
water doesn't get into walls or room, but weeps out and down through
that 1/4 inch crack between wall and deck.
The doors I'm talking about are sliding patio doors.
There were no weep holes in the track of these doors. Water would
pool in the track until it ran over one of the vertical rail-like
track pieces. I drilled holes in the track to let the water run out
but it did not corrected the carpet wetting problem.
It's very hard to visualize your situation - wonder if the doors just
ride too high on the little wheels? Don't know if that is possible.
Our track is on a curb outside, which is level with the rest of the slab
inside. No weepholes on outside of track, only little space at each end
which allows water to drain. The door sits down astride the rail, so
even with water blowing against it water will not come in. Sounds like
maybe just some caulk would have solved your problem. Doors couldn't be
upside-down, could they - with weep holes or whatever at the top???????
I strongly suspect if mine were on a curb outside, as you describe,
the channels would drain out each end. As it is the track butts into
the door jam, trapping the water in the channels and the water seeps
into the walls.
This isn't a very good illustration. This is a different door than
the one that's against the carpet. As you can see it backs up against
ceramic tile, so the problem isn't as great. But, you can see the
deteriation of the wall where the track butts up against it. I repair
the wall and replace the molding periodically. The little piece of
quarter-round that's missing rotted away. All 4 of my patio door are
the same and all do this.
Jim the picture shows one of the problems. See the front track, the one
that the glass door rides on? It's cut short of the edge so that any wind
driven water that makes it over that track will be funneled back to the
outside as the sill should slightly go down hill from inside the house to
out. But the screen door track goes all the way to the end trapping all the
water that has hit the glass and dropped down now you have all that water
sitting in-between these two tracks with no where to go except water seeks
its own level and as I zoom into the picture I can see that the caulking has
failed between the two tracks to the upright piece, well actually the whole
area has failed this could be your major problems.
So I would suggest shortening the screen door track like the glass door
track. Then repair the failed seal between the horizontal piece and the
vertical piece. It will take some doing as its aluminum and hard to get to
but worth the effort if this is your problem. Then use good 100% silicone
caulk on that joint then with the inside door trim removed so you can see
water immediately give it the old hose test not pressure at the joints so
much but like water on the glass and let it run for a while with someone
inside watching for water. If all is well the water should now not pool
between the tracks and will run out and not go into the now resorted joint
between the horizontal and vertical pieces.
I hope this solves it for you, Rich
I think you don't want a notch there at all...if anything, I'd pour a
raised sill to set them on.
The answer is that the tracks should be mounted w/ a water-tight seal
underneath and there won't be water getting between them and the slab.
Some of the other posters already mentioned the correct
answer, but I will jump in just to reinforce their positions.
The patio door does not go into a recess in the slab. It sits
on the same plane as the rest of the floor. It needs to be
installed correctly with proper adhesive sealant under the
door threshold and about 2-4" up the sides.
I am a patio door installer (among my other jobs as a general
contractor) and out of the 200 or so patio doors that I have
installed over the past 35 years, NONE have been set into a
recess in the slab. I have had a couple of leaks that I had
to remove the door and repair, but every installation has been
waterproof when complete (and correctly installed).
You need to get advice from someone other than your "expert".
As a caveat, I have found that many installers do not follow,
or do not know the correct installation procedures for the
various situations for which they may be installing doors.
When I get a factory installer on the jobsite, I always watch
them like a hawk.
Here are a couple of sites to look at installation procedures:
Although, the pella site is for a hinged patio door, the info
is correct for a standard slider, and has a better detail on
flashing for wood floors. The flashing is not needed for
concrete slab applications.
Then maybe you can explain something that confuses me. In all
explanations (including the ones you gave) for how to install these
doors; in one way or the other, they always say (and these are quotes
from one of your links):
". . run heavy beads of caulking along the floor where the sill will
"Shim under the sill . . .as necessary [to level the door]."
How do you retain the seal created by the 'generous caulking' and also
lift the sill with shims to level it?
There needs to be a flat, level surface <first>. Only if the need for
shimming is minute can one get away w/o preparing the sill plate surface
the door is on first.
I was going to add this as another possibility of the problem--the
original slab wasn't poured flat/level and the original installer didn't
prepare the opening before setting the door, but (as is often the case
:) ) Bob got a critical point in.
I've read several instructions for installing patio doors and I don't
remember any mention of the need to "prepare the sill plate surface"
other than yours. The three references Robert gave made no mention
of it. On the other hand all or almost all talk about shimming 'as
It has always seemed patently obvious to me that one can't have a
weather-tight seal against air (as you've noticed). All instructions
I've read basically started w/ a near flat, level surface. If you don't
have that, that's the first thing to get. I also (at least personally)
interpret "shimming" of anything more than a small fraction under a door
sill as needing to be continuous, not a "hit and lick" wedge in a couple
of places. This is needed both for long-term rigidity as well as the
ISTR there was a pretty good detailed article in a recent Fine
Homebuilding where a fellow went through his process...
If shimming is necessary, then the slab is not completely
level. Most of the time the slab is close enough that the
sealant STILL seals the underside of the threshold to the
slab. I use a urethane sealant that is pretty stiff, and the
beads of sealant stand about 3/8" tall off the slab. I have
not had more than a few instances of the slab being out of
level by more than 1/4" or so in the six feet of the door
opening. When I do run into this, then I usually discover it
when I check the door opening for plumb and level.
If you have this problem, then you must address it before
installing the door. I have had to make 6' long shims to seal
down to the floor, then install the door on the shims and seal
the door to the shims.
Usually you don't have this problem and the sealant will seal
the track to the slab even if you have to shim a spot or two.
I always seal the track to the slab on the outside anyway,
just to be sure. If I have to shim the door by more than a
1/4", then after the door is installed, I push some backerrod
under the door and fill the space with the same sealant to
prevent water intrusion.
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