Foundation Crack Repair, Basement Waterproofing Blog

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Lally Column New Flash: Rust is Bad News!

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I went to a structural engineering conference recently and lally columns were of particular concern. They talked a lot about rust on lally columns, steel lally columns that are filled with concrete in particular. If there is rust on the lally column, even at the bottom, it can reduce the strength of it up to 40%. That’s significant. They recommended lally column replacement if there is rust on it.

What’s involved?

You have to break a hole in the floor, dig down, and pour concrete. What we are pouring is called a footing, it evens-out the pressure, because the slab is only 3 or 4 inches thick and it is not strong enough to support. Then we cut a lally column to the proper size and fit it in there. On top we put a very thick piece of steel with a cup welded to it, and the lally column fits in the cup.

This is not a DIY project. A homeowner can prevent rust by checking the lally columns yearly. If you see rust, wire brush it off, and use rust preventing paint to eliminate it. A little maintenance goes a long way.

For more information on lally columns, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

4 Basement Waterproofing DIY Disasters You Won't Believe

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 14, 2017

This week we have four horror stories that have to do with basement waterproofing.

The first is misdiagnosing the problem. With years of experience we can usually diagnose what the problem is. I’ve gone into homes where owners have put in sump pumps near a finished basement wall because water is coming in under it. I go outside and there is a foundation wall crack. It’s not ground water which needs a sump pump, they need the foundation wall repaired. They spent a lot of time and money putting in a sump pump when they didn’t need one at all.

The second is putting things off. I recently went into a house where a wife was not too happy with her husband. He had put off opening up a finished wall in a basement to try to fix a crack. His wife took it into her hands to call me and asked me to fix it. I opened the wall up and it was full of mold because he procrastinated. Not only was there mold on that sheet rock, there was mold upstairs in the living area as well. So procrastination can cause more problems.

The third horror story is choosing the wrong material and/or the wrong technique. TV is great at marketing, but I see a lot of homeowners buying Flex Seal, spraying it on their foundation, and hoping that it will fix the crack. I have never seen it work yet. You have to have the right experience, the right materials, and do it correctly to fix the problem. Many of these materials and mixes at big box stores are really only temporary fixes.

The fourth is relying on waterproofing paint. It is pretty tough for paint to stop water from coming in because it is applied to the surface of the concrete. We see this paint peeling all the time. That’s the problem, people paint the whole basement and then it starts peeling and they have a really big mess on their hands. No matter what, don’t put paint on concrete.

For more information on basement waterproofing, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

How to Fix a Sinking Concrete Floor

Joseph Coupal - Friday, June 30, 2017

We are in the middle of a miniseries discussing concrete floor cracks. Our last episode discussed how to fix cracks in floating floors. But what if a homeowner discovers a crack in a concrete floor and the concrete has started to sink? When they don’t have the money to replace the entire floor, here are the other options.

The first is to break that area of the floor, dig down, compact the floor; perhaps it happened because they didn’t have proper drainage; fix that, add gravel, compact the gravel, compact the ground and then pour new concrete.

You can also pin with metal into the good concrete and pour concrete there.

There is also a more cost effective way to do this. It's called “mud-jacking.” Where the floor is sunk, you drill a hole or a series of holes, create a concrete slurry which is pumped into the holes and you can actually raise the concrete. But if the soil is going to sink again, you haven’t solved much. So you have to make sure that soil is really compacted.

Sometimes you run into a situation where the soil underneath the floor is going to continue to sink. In this case you may want to use a technique called “foam-jacking.” This is very similar to “mud-jacking” except polymer foam is used. A series of holes are drilled and the foam liquid is pumped in. The foam penetrates the soil making it denser and more compact, and raises the concrete.

For more information on concrete floor crack repairs or basement waterproofing, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Floor Cracks on Floating Floors - Why and How to Fix

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 26, 2017

One type of basement floor cracks you may find is in floating floors. What is a floating floor? Well, the foundation and walls are poured first; then gravel is brought in and compacted. The soil under the gravel is compacted as well. Then plastic is put down. Once this is all done, the concrete floor is poured to the basement walls.

The good news is that most residential construction is done this way, which means most cracks are not structural. Most basement floor cracks are caused by poor technique. The ground is not compacted, the gravel is not compacted, and possibly plastic down was not put down.

These cracks can be fixed by putting a material within the crack; it is a two-part material that welds it together. Most residential construction concrete floors are separate structures than the walls so that they can move and adjust during temperature changes.

For more information on basement crack repair or waterproofing, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Installing Lally Columns Yourself? What Not To Do – Boston, MA

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, May 18, 2017

I was referred to a woman who lives in Boston because the home inspector said there were multiple problems with lally columns and one in particular. I asked her to send me photos, which were right in her home inspection report. I couldn’t believe what I saw.

What I saw was a temporary lally column sitting on the cement floor and what was on top of the lally column in between the beam and the ceiling was what looked like a cast iron frying pan. I’ve been in the business for 15 years and I have never seen anything like that. This homeowner has taken the cake for unusual lally column structures.

Another had no footing. A footing is a solid piece of concrete that goes down about 12-14” to help support the lally columns.

The one I saw was a temporary lally column. Those are the ones with the screw jack. And being hollow they can’t handle the weight of the house. If there is a fire it is going to melt. Today’s building code says they have to be steel filled with concrete. Plus a frying pan may be nice to cook dinner, but you can’t put it on top of a lally column. What should be there is a thick piece of steel with a cup welded on and bolted to the support beam.

For more information on lally column replacement, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Crackman Tip 20 - How Long does it take a Concrete Slab to Dry? – Providence, RI

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Frank in Providence, RI: “How long can I estimate for a new concrete slab to dry?”

Crackman: That is a very interesting question. There are a lot of factors that contribute to how long it takes concrete to dry. There are a lot of different materials in concrete and it depends on the materials used, the amount of water and temperature around that slab, and is wind there.

You want that concrete to dry as much as possible. Concrete is an expensive product to pour, and labor to apply it. So you don’t want to go on it too soon. We are not just talking about stepping on it, people drive cars and machinery on it. What you want to do is a relative humidity test which can be done on slabs. This determines how much water is in the, when it is at least 90% cure. Concrete never fully cures, there is always water or moisture in it. If you are going to drive a car or put heavy equipment on it, you should wait at least a week or more so you don’t take one step forward and two back.

For more information, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

How to Keep your Basement from Flooding During a Rain Storm – Boston, MA

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 27, 2017

We are heading into Thunderstorm season and have been getting a lot of rain in Massachusetts. A1 Foundation Crack Repair has been getting a lot of calls from people who have water infiltration and want the work done.

Here are some quick ideas you can do before or during that storm.

1. Make sure your downspouts are attached to the house. Then, with the downspouts, make sure the extenders are in-place running water away from the house. Because if the downspouts or the extenders are not on there, the water is running right next to the foundation.

2. If you have a leak by the bulkhead, get a blue or green top and put it over you bulkhead door and secure it and hope that keeps the water away for the time being.

3. If water is coming in, get things on the floor raised. Get as much stuff off the floor as possible.

For more information on preventing basement flooding, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Will Your Lally Columns be in Question During a Home Inspection – Boston, MA

Joseph Coupal - Friday, April 07, 2017

Lally Columns are one of those hidden “gotcha's” found by home inspectors all the time. The home inspectors’ job is to let the buyer of the house know about any deficiencies. Just because these deficiencies exist does not mean the house is going to fall down.

When it comes to Lally Columns, home inspectors are paid to look for these seven basic things.

  1. If the Lally Column is made of metal, if it is rusted. When they are made of metal and touching concrete, concrete has moisture and they do rust. This lessens the strength of it and it will get worse.
  2. If the Lally Column is split.
  3. If the Lally Column is hollow. You can tap on it and you’ll hear if it is hollow, that doesn’t meet code.
  4. If the Lally Column is made of wood or a tree trunk, that doesn’t meet code.
  5. If the Lally Column is made of brick in these older houses. The bricks may be old and deteriorating and not supporting anything, or not much.
  6. If the main beam in the basement, if it looks like there was a plate there. This would be where the Lally Column is attached, and the plate may be missing.
  7. They also don’t like the temporary jacks.

Lally Column repair or replacement is not typically in the skill set of the DIYer. So if a homeowner has an issue with the Lally Columns, and they are going to sell their house ,the compromised Lally Columns need to be replaced.

We bring in a jack-hammer to break the floor, dig down and take that soil out. Pour a footing or concrete pad beneath the floor. Then we bring in a Lally Column that is made out of steel and filled with concrete. Then with a cutter, we cut the steel and concrete to the right size. Then we put it in. We do thousands of these a year.

For more information, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

3 Ways to Protect Your Basement from Moisture – Boston, MA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Things you can do to protect your basement from moisture:

  1. Add a dehumidifier
  2. If there is water coming up from below, put a sump pump in.
  3. I found a water detector. It will actually call or text your cell phone if it detects water. This is a new product that I found that has quite a bit of merit. Not only will it detect water, but it will also tell you if the temperature of your house is below freezing.

For more information on basement waterproofing, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Do-It-Yourself Basement Waterproofing Pitfalls – Boston, MA

Joseph Coupal - Friday, March 17, 2017

As spring showers increase the amount of ground water around the house homeowner are more likely to spot leaks in the basement. As many of them do, they decide to fix them themselves with products from Lowes and Home Depot. When they get there, they grab the guy in the aisle and ask his advice. He will suggest caulk or cement or Flex Seal and they give it the Ol’ College Try. After failing multiple times, A1 Foundation Crack Repair gets the call.

Some of the pitfalls we see is people don’t take out the wet material that got damage during that water infiltration. You want to get out anything that got wet because mold will start to grow within 24 hours to 48 hours.

We also see people using caulking on foundation leaks. Caulk does not stop water. It is great for when painting, but don’t think of it in a basement.

We also see all these gimmicks that are advertised on TV, even paint that claims to stop water. The PSI (pounds per square inch) is next to nothing. We see that pealing all the time.

Something that people don’t think about is when they plant bushes, shrubs, small trees. They should be away from the foundation because the roots push against the foundation. If it is block, stone or poured concrete this can cause problems. On stone foundation we have seen roots come through the foundation and cause problems. If roots can come through, so can water, mice or insects.

The main reason to fix a foundation leak is because at some point you or your heirs are going to want to sell the house. If someone sees a crack in a foundation that was repaired, they are going to want to see a warranty on that. Even if you did a perfect and costly job which did fix the leak, you still can’t offer a warranty. Reputable foundation repair companies will offer a warranty.

For more information on basement crack repair, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.


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