I used to be the customer service manager for a volume home builder. I still receive calls occasionally from the customers who we built homes for asking me questions relating to their house. Since I’m no longer employed with the company, I always refer them to the builder, however if I can, I still try to help them if I can.
Today I received such a call from one of those home owners in reference to his back door. The customer told me that the door was beginning to show signs of discoloration at the bottom of his door and on the wood frame near the bottom. He said the color was dark and unsightly. He also told me that the molding appeared to be starting to crack open in this area.
After he told me the problem, I asked him if the door was an outswing door or an inswing door. He told me that the door swung out on to his porch.
I then asked him if the porch was covered or not. He told me that it was not covered.
I then told him that builders will tend to use out swing doors on areas where the roof does not provide extended protection to the door. The reason they use these doors is because the out swing door will close against a raised threshold to keep any blowing rain from going under the door. The in swing doors close on top of a threshold and if the rain is blown against an in swing door then there is a possibility that the rain can blow under it. So the out swing door is a good option to eliminate this problem.
The problem with out swing doors is when the rain blows against them it will penetrate at the edges and run down between the edge of the door and the door jamb. When the water gets down at the bottom of the door/jamb it tends to stay wet for a period of time. The jamb and the door will then be more likely to develop mildew and if unchecked will eventually rot.
I told the homeowner that this was a maintenance problem not a defect in construction. The door is doing what it is designed to do – stop the rain from entering his home. I told him the solution was to keep an eye on this door and when he notices the dark discoloration he should spray bleach and water mixture on it to kill the mildew. The mixture should sit for a few minutes before he wipes it clean.
After it dries he should touch up his caulking in this area if needed and also the paint. If he fails to do this, then he will be replacing his door within a few years. Like I said earlier, the door will begin to rot and eventually disintegrate. The homeowner thanked me for information and said he would handle the situation right away.
In my HMR Warranty Agreement, we offer this as one of the items that would be performed during the multipoint maintenance procedure. This procedure is performed every six months. Now that you’re armed with this information, go check your doors for mildew and keep those small problems now from turning into big problems later!