Help with leak management!
March 20, 2011 9:07 PM   Subscribe

Help! Managing a window leak overnight, need ideas about the best way to keep the water off the floors.

One of the sliding doors in my house has developed an annoying leak, where water comes in between the interior door frame and the door. Yes, I need to get this investigated, but I need strategies for tonight, to collect the water and try to keep it off my wood floors.

Unlike your average roof leak, this water does not fall directly downwards, so I can just collect it in a bucket. The water falls down and hits the glass door, then slides down the glass and onto the bottom part of the door frame. This makes it almost impossible to collect in a pan or bucket, as the water just oozes along the window frame and the top of the pan, and much of it goes straight onto the floor. I have been laying towels on the floor, smooshed up against the door, with pans on top, to collect the drips which fall straight down. A lot of the water is getting soaked up by the towels though, and I am rotating them out, spin drying them, tumble drying them, then rotating them back in again. This seems pretty ridiculous. I just want to collect water in pans or buckets and get some sleep tonight, rather than mopping up and running back and forth to the washer/dryer every hour.

Any ideas on a better way to collect the water so it goes into pans, not buckets? A way to divert the water away from the glass? Here's a photo of the water hitting the glass, here's a photo of the water falling into the pans and towels.
posted by Joh to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
Do you have a plastic tarp? Or anything like that, like a shower curtain or plastic picnic tablecloth? 'Cause you could lay that underneath the whole ensemble so you don't have to be so frantic about changing the towels.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:10 PM on March 20, 2011

Best answer: Or you could tape a plastic tarp to the top of the glass under that rim and kind of arrange it like a funnel so the water goes directly into a bucket.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:11 PM on March 20, 2011

Personally... I'd try and identify where it was gaining access from the outside, and if i is accessible figuring out how to stop it coming in from there. This may involve a trip to a walmart or something to get a tube of silcone and a caulk gun.... It may be temporarily hanging a tarp outside.

Do you rent, do you own? If you rent perhaps call the landlord, if you own.. ah the joys of home ownership.
posted by edgeways at 9:14 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

When we had a similar leak our middle-of-the-night solution was to rig up the towels above the pans, so they acted as a wick to direct the water into the pans. We had more ledges available than you seem to, but if you've got any gaffer tape about, it solves everything.

It certainly wasn't ideal, but it was 3am, and it seemed an improvement on what we had...
posted by pompomtom at 9:33 PM on March 20, 2011

One more idea: put the tarp up on the roof, secure it with something heavy, like a couple of bricks. And then drape it over the top of the window, thus keeping the water out in the first place.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:41 PM on March 20, 2011

Response by poster: I own. The leak is not a simple one, it only occurs from wind-driven rain. Going to get caulk is not an option, I am home alone with my two toddlers. Messing around outside is probably fruitless since its pitch dark, and I can tell the water is not coming in from the outside of the door (protected by the eaves), its coming in somewhere else. Assume I am not going to find and plug the source of the leak tonight. This happened once before, I spent time investigating, couldn't figure it out, hoped it was a one-off event. I just want to deal with the symptoms, not the cause tonight.
posted by Joh at 9:44 PM on March 20, 2011

Best answer: From the looks of the first photo, the water is coming in and running down the front face of the top rail, and it's just water tension / whatever that is drawing it back around the underside of the rail and subsequently onto the window.

My first attempt would involve getting some duct or packing tape and a towel, and tape one edge of the towel to that top rail, covering the stream(s? looks like two?) of water. This will allow the towel to wick the water and keep it off the rail; eventually the towel will get saturated, but that's kind of what you want, since it will start dripping off the towel in a controlled fashion, or at least more controlled than splashing off your patio door.

If it wicks in such a way that it eventually starts dripping or draining from one corner of the towel, you should have enough room to stick a bucket underneath because it should be a couple inches out from the window. If you end up with a wider 'curtain' of water where the entire bottom length of the towel is dripping, get some string or a rubber band and bunch up the bottom so you can 'aim' it all into one bucket.

Never tried this, IANA leak expert, but based on your photo this is what I might try, at least for starters.

Good luck.
posted by SquidLips at 10:10 PM on March 20, 2011

I agree with everyone's suggestions to channel the water. I was going to suggest using a tarp or nice big garbage bags, but SquidLips's towel-wicking suggestion is intriguing. Basically, create a u-shaped tarp ramp that will intercept the water and direct it to a bucket, rather than letting it spread out along the glass. Duct tape the upper end to the very top of the door glass, or higher, behind where the water stream is coming in. It can be fairly flat. Attach the lower end to something (two chairs?) in a way that creates a U shape. The water will drip off the end of the U into whatever backet you put there. Good luck. No fun. Best wishes in tracing the source of the leak.
posted by slidell at 11:16 PM on March 20, 2011

Also, do you have those mega-tupperware tubs for under-bed storage? The lids of those are good when you can't do much but try to protect as much floor as possible from water falling from above. ( I found out because Home Depot had them on sale back during California's December storms).
posted by slidell at 11:18 PM on March 20, 2011

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