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3 Highly Effective Ways to Seal Your Doors from Flooding

by | Home Improvement

Natural disasters are getting more and more common in most parts of the world. Unfortunately, they’re inevitable: you can’t stop hurricanes or change the direction of tornados (yet).

However, often you can prepare for these adverse events and protect your home from being damaged. Floods are a common problem that can cause substantial damage to properties. They can be the consequences of heavy rainfalls, overflowing rivers, melting snow or broken dams.

Doors are the least impermeable parts of a property. In the event of a flood, water quickly gets through the doors if they’re not sealed properly. Windows are also weak points, however, in case of minor and moderate floodings, the water level usually won’t reach windows.

We have many other useful and interesting posts about home safety. Make sure you also read our article about the most important home safety essentials you should have in your house.

And now let’s see the most effective ways you can seal your doors from flooding.

FYI – We have a helpful article about common sump pump failures and troubleshooting in which you’ll find everything that’s essential to prevent pump problems and solve them if they arise.    

1. Flood Gate: A Convenient Way to Seal Your Doors

You can easily and quickly prevent water from getting through your doors with a flood gate.

What exactly is a flood gate?

It’s basically a specially designed steel barrier that you have to place outside, right in front of your door, usually between the jambs (if you have a door that opens outwards you can also place the gate inside). Then all you have to do is adjust it with a wrench to make it watertight. It usually can be installed within minutes, so it’s a really fast way of protecting your door from flooding.

There are several manufacturers that sell different types of flood gates. I’ve found this model from Quick Dam to be the most effective and reliable.

It comes in different sizes (from a width of 30 inches up to 50 inches), so you can choose the one that fits your door. Its steel frame is covered by a sleeve made from neoprene that is a kind of durable synthetic rubber. This outer sleeve provides excellent insulation against water penetration.

Installation is a breeze in most cases. It can be easily done in just a few minutes. All you have to do is put the flood gate in place, adjust the expandable scissor jack (use the ratchet wrench that comes with the product) and hand tighten the downward pressure bolts. Disassembling is just as easy as putting together. For detailed instructions make sure you read the manual.

If you have a standard door with smooth door frames, usually you don’t need any additional steps to prevent water from getting through the entrance. However, in some cases, you might need to use some silicone caulk on the exterior edges of the frame to completely seal your door from flooding.

You can use it for entrance doors, sliding doors, basement doors, and garage doors as well. For larger openings flood gate units should be joined together with stanchion sets.

Have a look at this short video to get an idea of how Quick Dam flood gates work:

There are many advantages of a Quick Dam flood gate, here are the most important ones:

  • easy installation
  • sturdy steel frame with durable neoprene sleeve
  • reusable construction
  • it’s easy to adjust and it comes in different sizes so it fits most standard doors
  • it allows you to continue using your door after installation
  • can also be attached to walls (requires additional side rails)
  • individual flood gates can be joined together to protect larger openings (requires additional stanchion set)

Disadvantages:

  • The price: it’s quite expensive, especially if you need more than one item. However, it’s useful to know that, according to HomeAdvisor, the average flood damage cost is between $1000 and $4000 (source). Not to mention all the hassle that comes with restoring your home.
  • You have to buy additional stanchion sets if you want to join multiple flood gates together.
  • It only protects your door from flooding up to 26 inches high (but it’s more than enough in most cases).

While it’s true that using a flood gate is not the cheapest solution out there, it’s definitely one of the most reliable and convenient ones when it comes to sealing your doors from flooding. Flood gates are very durable products that you only have to buy once and then you can use them over and over again.

If flooding is a real concern, I highly recommend you get a flood gate if you can afford it. In the long term, it can potentially save you a lot of money and annoyance.

You can get Quick Dam flood gates on Amazon. Check out current pricing and read what others say about this product here.

2. Water-Activated Flood Barriers: Seal Your Doors on the Cheap

Using water-activated flood barriers is an effective and affordable solution if you want to protect the doorway from minor floods.

How do they work?

They get activated when they come into contact with water. They start to absorb it and quickly expand (within minutes) until they reach their final height (that’s usually about 3.5 inches).

So in most cases, all you have to do is lay them in place and wait until they grow to a full size. Then they’ll continuously keep water out. Just make sure you always place the wider section of the barrier towards the water.

If you’re more of a visual type, check out the video below:

What if 3.5 inches of height is not enough?

While it’s true that they are about 3.5 inches high when activated, they remain stable when stacked, so you can use multiple flood barriers to increase the height. Note that you have to pre-soak the barriers if you want to stack them.

If you expect excessive rainfall or heavy storms, you should always pre-soak the barriers to hold them in place. Otherwise, they can be washed away by the water flow.

There isn’t a large selection of water-activated flood barriers on the market. The one that I highly recommend is, again, from QuickDam (they know a thing or two about flood control) and it’s available on Amazon. You can check it out by clicking here.

Besides protecting doorways, basements, and garages, flood barriers can also be used to prevent water damage inside the house or to divert and control water in any other area.

Advantages of water-activated flood barriers:

  • They provide an affordable way to seal your doors from flooding.
  • They’re ready to use right out of the box.
  • The doorway remains accessible: you can easily step over the barrier.
  • They’re lightweight when inactivated so you don’t have to lift heavy bags.
  • Easy to store until needed.
  • They’re environmentally safe.

Disadvantages:

  • Although they have a shelf life of 5+ years, they only last for one season when left in place.
  • When stacked they may not provide a perfect seal under all circumstances.
  • The barriers can become slippery, especially when exposed to direct sunlight.
  • If you expect a sudden and significant rise in water level, flood barriers may not be the best choice. Use water-activated flood bags or a flood gate instead.

Being prepared always pays off. I highly recommend you also keep a flood kit at home. If you don’t have one yet, click here to check out the most popular kits from American Family Safety.

3. Combine Multiple Methods to Prevent Water Leakage and Minor Flooding

This DIY method is probably the most time consuming as you have to take multiple preventive measures. The goal is to make your door (somewhat) waterproof and flood-resistant without using any barricade or gate.

The success of this method depends mostly on the type of your door, though you can significantly improve the degree of water resistance in most cases.

As a first step, examine your door carefully: look for gaps and uneven surfaces around the door. Pay special attention to the gap between the door and the threshold.

Now you have to close the gaps which you can do in many different ways. Probably the easiest way is to use a self-adhesive seal strip. Another method is to attach a plastic sheet to the bottom of the door with some water-resistant adhesive tape. You can get better results if you combine seal strips with plastic sheets.

Instead of a plastic sheet, you can use a waterproof seal tape. In the case of gaps that are smaller than 1/8 inch, you can also try silicone caulk, however, keep in mind that it’s much harder to remove than a seal tape or a plastic sheet.

The obvious drawback of the previously mentioned methods is that you won’t be able to use the door until removing the sealants.

I must tell you that when it comes to keeping water out this method is not as effective as the first two ones and I wouldn’t recommend it if you expect heavy rainfalls or storms.

More Tips to Protect Your Door From Flooding

  • In case of flooding, drainpipes and sump tanks often fill with water and the whole drainage system becomes dysfunctional. As a consequence, water comes up through the drains. To avoid this situation cover your drains with flood bags or sandbags.
  • Use an absorbent sock on the inside part of the door in case there would be some leakage at the bottom.
  • Declutter gutters.
  • In case of a flash flood or heavy rainfall, a sump pump with a battery can be useful (source).
  • Keep in mind that if you’re under a flood warning, you should look for a safe shelter as soon as possible.

Summary

When it comes to water resistance, doors are usually the weakest point of a house. Depending on the landscape, in case of flooding the largest amount of water will probably enter into your home through the doors. So it’s very important to strengthen them in time.

As you can see, it’s possible to seal your door from flooding even if you’re on a budget. If you want the best results, I recommend that you choose between the first two methods.

Flood gates are pretty expensive, however, they’re reusable and offer a professional solution. Water-activated flood barriers can be a great choice in case of minor floods. They’re significantly cheaper than flood gates, however, they last for only one season.

Whichever solution you choose, always keep in mind: you have the highest chance to protect your home by being prepared.

Photos: Wikimedia (Dhaluza)

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About the Author

James Mora is the founder of DailyHomeSafety. He is an avid DIYer, former healthcare professional and security manager. He is passionate about home improvement and teaching.