Q: Our sectional garage door leaks when it rains. After the most recent rain, we are convinced that rain is not only seeping in from the bottom of the door but is also getting through one or more of the horizontal sections. Is there an easy fix for this or am I doomed to replace the entire garage door? This has become a serious problem.

A: Unless your garage door is falling apart, we think that a good dose of weather stripping and a good paint job will stop the flood.

There seems to be some confusion about the source of the leak. So the first thing to do is find out where the water comes from. Is it entering from the top, the sides, the bottom or through the door?

To determine this, close the garage door and have someone spray it with a garden hose with a sprayer attachment. Try to re-create the weather conditions when it leaks the most. If it leaks most in a wind-driven rain, try to simulate those conditions. Also pay attention to any daylight you see at the top, sides or bottom of the door. Where light can penetrate, water can, too.

If you notice that the leak is at the sides or the top of the door, weather stripping is the answer.

Kevin has a sectional garage door on his home. When the door is closed, wooden stops with an embedded rubber gasket rest against the door on the top to form a watertight seal. A rubber gasket is attached to the bottom of the door, preventing water from penetrating at the base. As an added bonus, this cuts down on wind infiltration and minimizes the effects of cold weather.

Check to see if you have similar parts on your door. If not, install them. If you do have them, inspect them to see whether they need replacement.

If you think the actual door is leaking–and it might be if it’s a paneled wood door–a good paint job should fix the problem.

Make sure you take all the proper steps for a lasting, watertight paint job.

Scrape and sand the surface. Apply a good coat or two of primer. For exterior use we prefer an oil-alkyd primer. Caulk all the joints and apply two finish coats of the paint color of your choice.

A leak between the sections would be unusual. Sectional garage doors are usually constructed with a shiplap design with the edge of the upper section overlapping the edge of the lower section. This channels water to the outside of the door and, it’s hoped, down the driveway and out to the street.

Unless the edge of the door is damaged, or a hard wind is blowing up, forcing water under the shiplap, the joint should be watertight in normal rain.

That being said, if you think the joints between the sections are leaking, apply medium-hard rubber (not foam rubber) weather stripping to the top edge of each section. This weather stripping is self-adhesive and is available in rolls at hardware stores and home centers. When the sections compress the rubber, this should form a watertight seal.


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