Foundation Crack Repair, Basement Waterproofing Blog

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Is It a Good Idea to Paint Concrete Floors?

Joseph Coupal - Friday, September 15, 2017

Most painters say that concrete floors are the highest risk surface to paint. The reason being is because it will often peel. It's a great idea to paint it because it will look nice. The real question is how long it will last.

There are some things to consider when painting concrete floors. The first, is it a new floor? If it is new concrete, you want to give it time to fully cure.

The second is the preparation of the concrete. If the floor is in a garage or basement, it can be stained with other materials. It can be mechanically ground or etched so that the concrete is accepting to a paint-like material. It is quite a job to mechanically grind the concrete with diamond blades which create a lot of dust. You can also do it with chemicals, you use an acid to open up the pours, but it is a tough material to work with. It can cause burns and it is not good to inhale. But the prep-work needs to be done very well.

Some of that prep-work entails cracks in the floors and leaks. Cracks need to be repaired with the right material because concrete does expand and contract so it will just crack again.

The third thing to consider is what product to use. You can use a paint-based material to coat the floor, but this tends to peel. You could use a stain which stains the concrete, but what people don't like about stain is that you may pick a color, but once applied it can be a different shade, similar to wood stain. The third material you can use is two-part epoxy which gets very expensive, but it is supposed to last longer, it does have a high odor level and you have to be very careful working with it to get the type of finish that you want.

There are also specific considerations for the painting process itself. When painting the garage or basement there is going to be humidity and moisture. Then you are going to get peeling. We advise, if you are going to do it, do it before you sell the house.

Given all of the considerations to the preparation and the painting itself, I would not recommend painting concrete floors. In fact, even as a professional, I would not paint a concrete floor at all. I'd repair the cracks, but that is it.

If you want more information on concrete floors or basement waterproofing, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Waterproofing VS Dampproofing - What is the Difference?

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, September 05, 2017

What’s the difference between the two? You are considering waterproofing vs dampproofing when you are putting in a new foundation. It is done from the outside.

Dampproofing is what you see all the time with either spray or roll-on black material. The intent of dampproofing is to simply stop the moisture in the soil from getting through the concrete.

Waterproofing is not only stopping the moisture from the soil from getting through the concrete foundation, but also it prevents any liquid from getting in as well. It is about two or three times more expensive, but with dampproofing it is an asphalt material, organic, oil based and it does peel off eventually. Basement Waterproofing is really where you want to go to stop any water that is actually bearing against the foundation from coming through.

Go with waterproofing anytime you have an option.

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

Is that a Foundation Crack Leak or Condensation? – Boston, MA

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

We went out and looked out a house in Dorchester, MA where a woman had a foundation crack in a poured concrete foundation. You could actually see the water coming in through the crack and we fixed it.

About a month later she called me up and said she was getting water in the basement. I asked her if it was near the crack, and she said it was about 5 feet away in the middle of the foundation wall. We went out to take a look at it.

Before our appointment she had a plumber there for another situation. There was a puddle there on the floor. They looked up and found dripping water from the cold water pipes, not because it was leaking from a hole in the pipe, but because of condensation. We see this a lot this time of year with the hot temperatures and the cold pipes. They insulated the pipes and she was all set.

Another cause of condensation in the basement this time of year is that people tend to open the windows to let fresh air in. But, the air is full of moisture which causes additional problems like mold and mildew in the basement. My advice would be to keep the windows closed and get a dehumidifier to get the moisture out of the air.

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

Can I use Waterproofing Paint on Stone Foundations?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, August 10, 2017

I got a call recently from a homeowner in Dedham, MA. He sent me some beautiful pictures of a beautifully painted stone foundation. There were three areas with water streaming from it in areas that had been painted.

A1 Foundation Basement Waterproofing - Boston, Dedham,MAA1 Foundation Basement Waterproofing - Boston, Dedham,MA

You are welcome to use water proofing paint on your stone foundation, it makes it look nice, but does it really stop water? I don't believe so.

We fixed it, we have two methods we can use to fix these situations.

The first is with oakum, which is like rope. We soak it in a polymer resin, clean out in between the stones where it the stone foundation is leaking, push it between the stones and then put a specialty mortar over that.

Or, we can take another material which is a crystalized based material, again clean it out where it is leaking and put it in there.

I wish we could have gotten there as the foundation was leaking. I like to fix it as the water is coming in, and the customers do too!

We see these issues all over New England, from the Cape to Worcester to Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire.

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

Can I Move My Lally Column Support Post in my Basement?

Joseph Coupal - Friday, August 04, 2017

Today, everyone wants an open concept for their home. And even when they are redoing their basement, they want to open that up. It would be nice to get rid of some of those lally columns that are in the way, especially if you are putting in a pool table or something like that. We get the question “can I move my lally columns” pretty often.

You can do whatever you want to do, however with that said, it may not be good for the structure of your house. If there is a lally column in your kitchen/living area that runs to the and the basement area has been opened up, there needs to be support under the column in the kitchen. If you take those basement lally columns away, you could ruin the support of the whole structure. You could not only have damage to the beam because it is undersized, but also to the house itself.

If you want to get rid of lally columns always consult a structural engineer. He may want beef up that beam that is against the ceiling of the basement maybe with a thicker piece of wood, maybe steel or an LVL beam which will give it additional strength.

You can have lally columns farther apart and still provide support, but always consult a structural engineer. For more information, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

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.

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