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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.

How to Prevent Basement Water When the Snow Melts - Boston, MA

Joseph Coupal - Friday, March 03, 2017

We have  had problems in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire with the snow that we have had. The snow on the ground is going to melt, but so is the snow on our roofs. We want to keep that out of the basement.

First, go into the basement and see if there are any water stains because places that leaked before will leak again. We can get that fixed for you.

But what you can do yourself is walk around your house and see if your downspouts and the pipe that goes from the downspout over the ground is far enough from the foundation and that the water runs away from your house.

Next, be aware of the snow that falls off your roof. That may need to be removed, so it doesn’t melt into the basement.

One big culprit is the bulkhead leaking. The snow starts to melt and gets heavier; you want to shovel that snow off the bulkhead to take the weight off of it. You also want to shovel snow from around the bulkhead, because you want to remove the snow from the metal and from the concrete it is sitting on.  Shovel it about four feet away.

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

Lally Columns: What You Should and Should Not Use - Boston, MA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

We run in to some very interesting “solutions “ for lally columns.

Lally columns are the support systems that are underneath the floors that hold the floor up and keep them even and balanced. We see all kinds of poorly designed lally columns all over Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire that home inspectors don’t like. There are five that are common.

We often see axels from cars used as lally columns. Yesterday I saw a cast iron sewer pipe acting as one. Since we are in New England and we have a lot of old housing stock it is not unusual to see tree trunks, some still have the bark on them. If you look carefully you’ll see the pinholes from the powder house beetles that have eaten away at them. The fourth thing that we see are bricks or cinder blocks stacked on each other acting as a beam. Over time, because of the humidity in the basement, the mortar wears down and they don’t have the same strength. We also see pieces of wood, like 2 x 4’s, used to hold up the floor above.

A proper lally column is supposed to have a footing which is a piece of concrete that spreads out the pressure of the column sitting on it. The lally column itself should be made of steel and filled with concrete. On top of that, there should be a thick piece of steel with a cup welded onto it for the lally columns to go into. That piece of steel should be attached to the beam above.

Before you think of listing your house, get rid of sub-par lally columns before they become a problem in selling.

For more information, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

A1 Foundation Crack Repair Earns Esteemed 2016 Angie’s List Super Service Award

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, January 11, 2017
A1 Foundation earns Angie's List Super Super Service Award 2016

Award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service

A1 Foundation Crack Repair has earned the home service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award, reflecting an exemplary year of customer service to members of the local services marketplace and consumer review site in 2016.

This achievement is particularly significant as Angie’s List experienced unprecedented member growth in 2016. More than 1.6 million consumers, many of whom were eager to quickly hire highly qualified service pros, joined Angie’s List after the company added a new, free membership tier.

“Companies that can meet higher demands without missing a beat in their exemplary performance standards truly do stand apart from their peers,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “Only a fraction of the basement waterproofing companies in Boston area were able to do it.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2016 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade. The SSA winners must also be in good standing with Angie’s List, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List as new, verified consumer reviews are submitted. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in areas ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality.

For more than 21 years, Angie’s List restricted access to its verified reviews to consumers who paid membership fees. When the company removed that barrier, some companies worried that the new, non-paying members would not be as engaged as members of the past. Experience has shown, however, that these newly added members are just as engaged – across all age groups – as prior members. Also, because the company continues to adhere to its review verification process, there has been no degradation of review quality.

“The biggest change at Angie’s List is that we are connecting even more consumers to high quality service professionals,” Hicks said. “And that’s good for everyone.”

Refinishing Your Basement? Don't Make this Mistake – Boston, MA

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, December 22, 2016

If your finishing your basement it should be “like new” and you shouldn’t see any water. Is it right for you to think that way? Well, you can think what you want but it happens a lot of the times when someone finished the basement. We get calls from all over where people finish the basement and then months later they have water coming from behind the sheet rock. In fact, some say they knew that there was a crack in the foundation, but it has never leaked before and they had been in the house for 15 years. Now that they put up the sheet rock it started leaking. Why they can leak when they have not leaked before is because water gets into them and in the winter it freezes opening the crack more and more. So…

Tip #1: Look very carefully at the foundation walls and be sure there are no cracks. Those cracks can be fixed with a warranty all from the inside.

Tip #2: Look very carefully at the concrete again at the little dimples. Those dimples are caused from the tie-rods which hold together the wood forms where the concrete is poured to form the foundation.  After the concrete is poured they snap these ties and they are in the concrete. They are supposed to be sealed from the outside, some building inspectors like them sealed from the inside too, but often it is not done. The metal rusts and when it rusts they get smaller and can leak. So my advice would be look at the dimples and see if you see any rust lines or white powder. Those can be sealed with a warranty also. For those that are not rusting, put something on them so air does not reach them.

Tip #3: See if there are any water stains where the wall meets the floor. You want to have those addressed.

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

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