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  1. #1
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    Default Basement Entry Threshold Height

    Here is a photo from an inspection I just did. This is an outside basement entry doorway. There is no threshold at all, and the interior floor is at the same height as the exterior floor shown here. I'm going to recommend trimming the door and installing as high a sealed threshold as possible to keep water from getting into the basement at this doorway, but I'm not sure how high is permissible. I know that a standard exterior entrance should have no more than a 1 1/2 inch high threshold, but is this also true for a basement door where water intrusion could be more of a problem? Thanks a lot for the help!

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    I would avoid trying to be too specific here, unless I had expertise in this type of repair.
    In fact, a better repair would be to break up the concrete and lower the level of the well and drain, so that they are below the level of the interior floor. Whatever you recommend, there's no guarantee it will be adequate. So I would call for a repair, but let a trades person design it. JMO.

    Also, that old door swings outwards, so for security, those hinges should be burglar-proof.


  3. #3

    Default Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    I agree with John.

    The threshold should be 1.5" or less unless you want to make a new exterior landing and step.


  4. #4

    Default Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    Is there a set of concrete steps leading down to a concrete landing with no drain?


  5. #5
    chris mcintyre's Avatar
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    Default Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    Is this a finished or unfinished basement? Often in an unfinished basement, that is used as a workshop, the owner does not want a threshold so the basement can be "washed out".


  6. #6

    Default Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    the owner does not want a threshold so the basement can be "washed out".
    There must be regional differences. In my area, most older homes have a built in floor drain in the basement.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    Hey, thanks for all the replies. Yes, what is shown is the landing at the bottom of a typical exterior concrete stairwell leading down to an exterior entrance to a basement. And yes, there is a floor drain shown right there in the photo I posted - so as long as he keeps all those leaves from clogging and blocking it up on him, he just needs to contain the water long enough to let it drain. A good point about the hinges, but there is another, inward swinging door inside this one that is secured with a total of 5 locks and bolts. There is a basement floor drain about 10 ft. inside, but the basement is fully finished, and the concrete floor just inside these doors is carpeted.

    I was just looking for enough information to let the buyer know what he could expect to be able to do, but I'm still recommending that he hire a qualified contractor to do the job. He's going to have to get someone to install a handrail on this stairwell anyway.

    Thanks again, and a Happy (and profitable) New Year to everyone!


  8. #8

    Default Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    And yes, there is a floor drain shown right there in the photo I posted
    You switched pictures on me, I swear. (place pic of bag over head here)


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Whitmore View Post
    You switched pictures on me, I swear. (place pic of bag over head here)
    Perchance you've been celebrating New Years one day early?


  10. #10
    Mark Tran's Avatar
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    Default Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    I'm not sure about other areas but from what I know if a door is on grade or below grade level. The min height is 4" above slab especially where there is a high accumulation of water near the door


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Tran View Post
    I'm not sure about other areas but from what I know if a door is on grade or below grade level. The min height is 4" above slab especially where there is a high accumulation of water near the door
    Thanks Mark! That was more like what I was thinking, but I couldn't find it, and as you can see from the thread, nobody else came up with it either at the time. Unless somebody contradicts you, I'll file that information away for future use. Thanks again!


  12. #12
    chris mcintyre's Avatar
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    Default Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Chambers View Post
    Unless somebody contradicts you,.......
    I'm not contradicting anyone, because I don't know, but would like to ask a question. Are you saying that the height difference between the basement floor and the exterior landing should be 4", or are you saying that there should be an actual 4" threshold at the sill that you would have to step/jump over.


  13. #13
    Mark Tran's Avatar
    Mark Tran Guest

    Default Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    Quote Originally Posted by chris mcintyre View Post
    I'm not contradicting anyone, because I don't know, but would like to ask a question. Are you saying that the height difference between the basement floor and the exterior landing should be 4", or are you saying that there should be an actual 4" threshold at the sill that you would have to step/jump over.
    Like I said I'm not sure if this applies to your area but here in BC that is today's standard reason being is we get 8 months of rain every year. So, If you have a door on grade or below grade (basement door) the rule of thumb is your sill should be 4" in height from ground level to the sill of your door, this will help to keep the water from entering the basement. And yes that would mean a little step over but its better then letting water run in your basement. However, not to say going any higher than 4" would add any benefits. 4" is the standard and it's usually what I see in today's construction for basement doors.
    I hope that helps.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Tran View Post
    the rule of thumb

    So, you are agreeing that there is no REQUIREMENT for it, even in your area?

    Otherwise it would not be a "rule of thumb" but "code" ... which means it is NOT required, but rather that it, like so many other things in construction, is dumb not to do it that way.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
    Mark Tran's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    So, you are agreeing that there is no REQUIREMENT for it, even in your area?

    Otherwise it would not be a "rule of thumb" but "code" ... which means it is NOT required, but rather that it, like so many other things in construction, is dumb not to do it that way.
    Jerry you are right, the BC code doesn't really talk about it (yet) but it is highly recommended in today's construction. I guess if your area has very little rain and snow then I don't see it as much as a problem if you were to live in the northern area with a lot of rain and snow. But it should be noted that without this 4 " step up, snow accumulation on the exterior can leak through the bottom of the door system readily. So I guess it really comes down to the area and see if its worth noting in your report. Just my 2 cents


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Tran View Post
    But it should be noted that without this 4 " step up, snow accumulation on the exterior can leak through the bottom of the door system readily.

    I would think that would happen in areas with moderate to heavy snow loads even with a 4" curb.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Basement Entry Threshold Height

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Tran View Post
    Jerry you are right, the BC code doesn't really talk about it (yet) but it is highly recommended in today's construction.
    Are you saying people step over a 4" curb in the doorway? Got any pictures of this in new construction?
    I think you mean they step up to a floor which is 4" above the ground level, or the level of the well if it is below ground level, right?

    If you mean a curb 4" high you would step over on the way out as well as in, I don't see that, even in old basements, and certainly not in new.

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