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Watertight doors

charlesaf3_'s picture

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This may seem like an odd question, but I live in an occasional flood zone (called downtown Boston) and I'd like to put a watertight door to the backyard. Has anyone ever heard of such a thing, and can give me a recommendation, or a possibility to explore?

Thanks

Charles

(post #158133, reply #1 of 21)

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Submarine bulk head doors are the only water tight doors I know of. Sorry. Most exterior doors are not water tight. They're gonna leak at some point. You might consider raising the grade of the door if possibe. That is, getting it higher than the water level. This may involve a few steps down in the interior of the house to make this work. You can work out the asthetics with your architect.

Good luck,

Ed. Williams

(post #158133, reply #2 of 21)

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Thanks for the thought - I already tried to make that work. I'm going to do a modified approach - a sort of dike around the patio, 2 ft high and unbroken. I still want to put on a watertight door as well, though. I found one from Bilco, but it's unclear whether it will work properly as a door instead of a hatch. So I was wondering if anyone had come across one.

see http://www.bilco.com/index-2.htm

(post #158133, reply #3 of 21)

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We did this on a house a couple years ago. Water always came up fast and then gone fast. Used an Andersen outswing with lockset that latched top, bottom and center. Very expensive, but it helps a lot.

(post #158133, reply #4 of 21)

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You can:

1) seal the door from the outside with packing tape (watch it, it removes pain). This is the only kind of tape I've actually seen work.

2) seal the door from the out side with the clear removeable caulk that's used to temporarily seal windows in the winter time.

Neither of these solutions would pass the mission critical test; but, they will afford a couple of days of delaying action

(post #158133, reply #5 of 21)

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Thanks for the thoughts. Lonecat, how well did the 3 point Anderson work? Meaning, did it alet a little water in (owhich would be ok) or a lot? And how high was the water and how long did it last?

(post #158133, reply #6 of 21)

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Charles: After I posted I sat and thought and decided, (I don't feel like calling the homeowner) that this door has almost been tested but not quite. I know the water has been right up to the sill, but now I can't remember if water was standing against it. My old partner has worked over at that house since I have, if I talk to him soon I'll ask him about it. That whole deal is a little touchy cause after a 6 month renovation and big bucks and some of my best work, I think FEMA and the city are going to get the house condemned. More or less.

(post #158133, reply #7 of 21)

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Here in Worcester and along the Avon, there have been bad floods. Up to a depth of 2' or so, taping the outside of the door and building sand-bags against it seems to work. The problem isn't just the door -- the flood-water comes through the air-vents and through the mortar joints of the brickwork, the sides of the door and window frames, etc., etc.

(post #158133, reply #8 of 21)

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Ian - I've taken that into account by waterproofing the floor to a height of 2-3 ft (done by a professional waterproofing company here in town that does underground garages, elevator shafts etc.)

Lonecat - I'm very curious. Thanks for your input. I think I'll probably end up going with something like that. I'm worried about things not so much when I'm here, but when I'm out of town.

Do you thing Pella would be better than anderson? ANd have you heard how long the door stops the water?

Charles

(post #158133, reply #9 of 21)

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I have been on an aircraft carrier even though I was in the Air Force, a long story. The companionway hatches are big on a carrier. Could you cut one of the hatches out with a cutting torch or a plasma cutter and install it as a waterproof door and an interest piece as the back door?

This is assuming you can get one from a ship that is being salvaged.

(post #158133, reply #10 of 21)

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Thanks Kerry - I thought of that, actually, and did some investigation (actually, the salvage part didn't occur to me). There are a number of companies that make ship doors, which are obviously watertight. THe problem is the expense of buying one and putting it in a brick wall. Probably around 10,000 all in, which is over my budget for a single door.

Charles

(post #158133, reply #11 of 21)

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Many years ago, I used to get a little paper out of Nashville, TN, of all places, called Boats and Harbors. Full of all kinds of big ship items for sale used, including watertight doors. Once they even had a complete liberty ship for only $50k.

-- J.S.

(post #158133, reply #12 of 21)

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Hmm. I'll look for it. (I don't know what I'd do with a whole Liberty ship, but it sure would be a neat thing to have around the place. THough I can't even begin to imagine my girlfriends reaction)

The ideal would still be something normally used for house construction. That way my contractor won't hate me.

(post #158133, reply #13 of 21)

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I may be missing the point here, but why do you need a door? Presumably you won't be opening it when the yard is flooded and I assume you'll have some warning before the yard does flood so why not a watertight cover that can be fixed over the whole door opening?

(post #158133, reply #14 of 21)

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Ian- I'd thought about that, and probably will end up doing something like that. I don't even need the whole opening- 2-3 feet will suffice. THe issue is that the flooding often takes place with very little warning, so I was trying to get in place a system that would always be there.

Nonetheless, I suppose I could always put on the cover when I went out of town, and this may well be what I end up doing. The only problem is, what happens when we're out for the night? This usually comes on in a couple of hours.

Still, thanks for the suggestion - it's a good one.

(post #158133, reply #15 of 21)

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Oh, I should have said in the last message - one issue is that this will be an active door - so I can only put on the cover when I'll be away for a while.

(post #158133, reply #16 of 21)

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How about retrofitting or just rebuilding the door jambs and the threshold. This idea will require an out-swinging door. Make the stops all the way around about twice the normal reveal, and use a tall bumper threshold. Make sure that the area up to the jambs and under the threshold are completely watertight (caulking). Go to a rubber products store and get over sized tubular gasket material and attach it to the stops and threshold face. Use a continuous piece if you can with the one joint at the top of the jamb. Mortise your hinges and strike plate to ensure a VERY tight fit when closed. (Get used to pulling hard to latch the door). If you need more compression, install cam action latches low on the latch side of the door to simulate the dogs used to secure watertight hatches. You should only have to use those if you expect water. I can't picture yet how to dog the hinge side yet, what with hinges being rather inflexible, but if the whole gasket is compressed you may not have to.

(post #158133, reply #17 of 21)

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Ralph, that is a great idea. I think that's what I'll do. I see the problem with the hinges - if you have any ideas about how to solve the problem please post again.

Thanks, Charles

(post #158133, reply #18 of 21)

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Charles,
I've no doubt you've already considered it but there have been a lot of problems here with the floods filling the sewers and the sewers backing up into the houses through floor drains, first floor toilets, etc. Not nice!

(post #158133, reply #19 of 21)

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Ian -

Not nice indeed! Good thought. Unfortunately, one I already had. I say unfortunate because I had the thought thanks to the sewers backing up in my place. I'm putting on backflow valves in the main drain (probably doubled) and also a manual shutoff. Trust me, it's something you DON'T want to happen twice.

Did you know that your homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding or sewer backup? I do now...

(post #158133, reply #20 of 21)

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This may seem like an odd question, but I live in an occasional flood zone (called downtown Boston) and I'd like to put a watertight door to the backyard. Has anyone ever heard of such a thing, and can give me a recommendation, or a possibility to explore?

Thanks

Charles

watertight door (post #158133, reply #21 of 21)

i live in recently hit sandy area and am researching same issue.i cam accross ad for ClamDoor this is a fiberglass door with rubber seal that is designed as exterior basement door .it looks like it could be used if stood on end as a watertight door outside normal door if original door opened inward s