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Foundation Crack Repair, Basement Waterproofing Blog

Can little pieces of metal sticking out of my foundation wall cause a problem?

- Thursday, July 22, 2021

If a homeowner is a stickler for aesthetics, one might imagine they may have an issue with little pieces of metal sticking out of their foundation wall, but is there a more insidious reason why they might be concerned about this phenomenon? The Crackman answers.

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Man himself, Rich Comeras. Rich has 30 years’ experience in the construction industry and over 25 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcasts provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: Can little pieces of metal sticking out of my foundation cause a problem?

Narrator: So Rich, if a homeowner is a stickler for aesthetics, I imagine they may have an issue with little pieces of metal sticking out of their foundation wall. But is there a more insidious reason why they might be concerned about this phenomenon?

Rich: Yes, first of all, let’s go over what they are. These are called tie rods or snap ties, and it’s used on the construction phase of a poured concrete foundation. What they do is they put up the wood that’s called forms. Forms just don’t stand up by themselves, they need a little piece of metal to hold them in place. They’re not very big, maybe an eighth of an inch, quarter of an inch, but they do protrude beyond the concrete.

When the forms are up, they pour the concrete and then they’re supposed to snap these metal ties and push the wood apart, so you have a nice concrete wall. But some builders forget to snap these metal rods out and they can stick out about all six inches or so. They can be on the outside or the inside. Now why they’re important to snap off and to address is because these tie rods, if you’re walking by it can cut your leg. And pretty badly too. They usually get rusted, so you got a tetanus situation there. So what you do is re-snap them off on the outside, and on the inside, a good builder will fill them in with a good butyl caulking or something so that air doesn’t get to it.

If air gets to steel that has moisture, it’s going to rust, and when it rusts, it gets smaller, and when it gets smaller, what happens is there’s a void between the concrete and the metal tie rod. This is a great place for water to come in. So, we get this call fairly often, probably four, five times a month anyway, and this month we got one in Shrewsbury and we also got one in Melrose and they actually had these tie rods poking out.

If you take a look at the picture that is going to be on our website, you could take a look at and see if you have that issue, and if they do leak, it’s not the end of the world, we can fix them with a permanent solution and give you a warranty on it. So, watch out for those tie rods.

Narrator: Great information, Rich. Thanks for explaining what these little pieces of metal sticking out of a foundation wall are, and what can be done about them.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.


How Do I Fix a Leak Around My Basement Window

- Wednesday, July 14, 2021

This time of year we tend to get a lot of torrential downpours. If you have a leaky basement window, you’re gonna know about it pretty quickly. In this episode, The Crackman explains how to fix a leaky basement window.

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Man himself, Rich Comeras. Rich has 30 years’ experience in the construction industry and over 25 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcasts provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: How do I fix a leak around my basement window?

Narrator: So Rich, this time of year, we tend to get a lot of torrential downpours. If you have a leaky basement window, I’m guessing you’re going to know about it pretty quickly, right?

Rich: Yes, you certainly will. And we recently had this conversation with a woman from Worcester Mass., where she had the torrential rain and water is coming in in the basement near her window. First we must find out where is it coming from because there’s a few different areas it can come from. One is around the window frame itself between the concrete and the window, but we got to look at the obvious part first. Is the window closed? And is it closed tight? As it can come through when you open it but as I said it can come through where the concrete meets the frame.

So if it is coming through that area, and the way you can determine where it’s coming from is if you take a garden hose and spray it, like rain would come, or put it on the ground and let the garden hose run, and you’ll see where it’s coming from. If it is coming in around the frame, you can get a good build clocking-in clock around it, but first you have to clean it out really well at that scene. We also see water coming in, don’t forget these windows themselves are not portholes in a submarine, they’re not made to stop standing water. There sometimes is a window well which is a dugout area in front of the window, and those window wells fill up with water. So if that’s the case and it’s resting against your window and water comes in, you may want to dig that window well deeper so that the water has a chance to percolate down.

We also see, and it doesn’t matter if you’re in Worcester or Waltham, we see this everywhere, the most common thing is that there’s a crack off of the corner of the window. And that’s, that would be considered a stellman crack and what you’ll see is water not spurting through the crack, but you’ll see water at the bottom of the crack and on the floor, where the water is coming through. And that we can repair either by an injection, what’s called an injection process where we drill at angles to the crack, every six to eight inches, put our ports in the small holes. We drill, tighten up those ports and then inject the closed cell polymer resin material. Or, we’ll put another material in the crack and then a weave carbon fiber blanket on top of that. And then they get a warranty on it. Now we get a lot of calls, in fact, just this morning we had somebody call that they did have a window crack and they tried to fix it with one of those Home Depot remedies that does advertise on TV that you spray it on like magic and it stops water, and they’re calling us because it’s still leaking. So, if you have a water issue around the window, feel free to use this as a resource to help you out.

Narrator: Thanks Rich for explaining how to fix a leaky basement window.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.


A1 Foundation Crack Repair Saves Stone Foundation Repair Job

- Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A1 Foundation Crack Repair is known for saving real estate deals that are on the brink of disaster due to unexpected basement water leaks. The Crackman recounts a recent event where he saved a deal for a grateful Homeowner and real estate agent.

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Man himself, Rich Comeras. Rich has 30 years’ experience in the construction industry and over 25 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcasts provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: A1 Foundation Crack Repair saves stone foundation repair job -- Worcester, Mass.

Narrator:  So, Rich, in your 25 years as The Crackman, you’ve seen many DIY jobs gone bad. Butt you’ve also seen professional repair jobs gone bad as well. Am I right?

Rich: I certainly have. We had a good one that came in. A fellow called us up. He had one of the large “waterproofing companies” that can drain systems, French drains or perimeter drains, whatever you want to call it. He had a stone foundation and he actually had called me before. I went out, gave him a price on it. These people had sold them on what they wanted to do and they went with the other company. Which is fine. But he called me back.

And after that job was done these people continued having water come in. He was in the process of court case against this company because they put a perimeter drain in the foundation. They to put some paint, Magic Paint that reportedly will stop water. After he complained that the water’s coming in through the stone, his attorney hired me as an expert witness. So we had gone to court and he won his case. In fact, he had spent about fourteen thousand dollars to hire this company, and the long and the short of it is paint doesn’t stop water from coming in.

The water was coming in between the stones and putting a perimeter drain is when they break the floor, they put gravel in pipe in there and then they connect that to a sump pump. Well, that’s a great thing to do when the water is coming up from below, now water was coming through the wall, through the voids in damaged mortar in between the stones and it doesn’t stop the water. Now they put paint on there, painted it with this “waterproofing paint”, which I see peeling all the time, to think of it, how can paint stop water? And what needed to be done is to repoint properly in between the stones with the right type of mortar, and where it was leaking to use oakum, which is like rope, soak in a polymer resin, put it in between the stones, it will expand, and then especially, mortar over that.

So, this poor guy, the case has been going on for like a year and a half. He finally got restitution from that other company. We went and took care of it and long behold, he doesn’t have water coming in. So, you got to know where it’s coming in, ask the right questions, and do the right thing.  Don’t spend 10, 12 thousand dollars for a perimeter drain when you need a repointing job done. 

Narrator: So what I’m hearing is perimeter drain, Band-Aid; paint on a wall, Band-Aid. And all of that was $14,000, probably in excess of that, plus the court costs fees. When, if they had gone with you to begin with, it’d probably be a fraction of that, am I right?

Rich: Yeah. Perimeter drain is not really a Band-Aid, it’s just given the wrong medicine for what the situation was.

Narrator: Gotcha. Well, great story. A1 Foundation Crack Repair must feel like a life raft for desperate homeowners shipwrecked by a crippling basement water problem. I guess you guys are saving lives one day at a time. Am I right?

Rich: Well, working to have basements dry.

Narrator: All right, well, thanks Rich, great information.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.


What can happen if I don’t repoint my stone foundation?

- Thursday, June 17, 2021

A1 Foundation Crack Repair is known for saving real estate deals that are on the brink of disaster due to unexpected basement water leaks. The Crackman recounts a recent event where he saved a deal for a grateful Homeowner and real estate agent.

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Man himself, Rich Comeras. Rich has 30 years’ experience in the construction industry and over 25 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcasts provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: What can happen if I don’t repoint my stone foundation?

Narrator:  So, Rich, when the mortar holding your stone foundation starts to crumble, it might be time to repoint it. We’ve talked about it in a lot of previous podcasts, but what if a homeowner decides to be complacent and not fix their stone foundation? What are some of the ramifications of that bad decision?

Rich: Well, it can range. One is, it can create a structural issue because when the mortar breaks down in between the stone, the stone will drop a little bit and then it’s a domino effect.

So, it’s a structural issue. So that’s why you want to put mortar in between the stone if it’s decayed or non-existent anymore.

And speaking of that when you do replace the mortar, we’re taking water out. You want to do it with hand tools. You don’t want to use a pneumatic or a drill or a chisel on the end to do that because it will vibrate and cause more problems of the mortar that’s actually good that’s above it. So that’s why we use hand tools in order to do that.

Also, I’ve seen some people trying to use power washers to take the motor out in between the stones and that causes a problem because the water is absorbed into the concrete floor. Concrete is like a sponge, the moisture is there, even if you suck it up with a wet vac you will get humidity in the air. This will cause mold on the things that you have in your basement, let alone the floor boards and beams. So that’s what you want to look at when you do take water out.

Well there’s another reason, in the winter especially, they got cold air coming in through all those voids, and now that we’re in the spring, I’ve been getting calls. I just got one in North Attleboro and another one in Northborough, people having a problem with pests coming in. Now, these pests range from mice, rats, to snakes. And if you have a cat, these people are telling me that cats catch the snake too. But who wants to have snakes coming into their house, along with cold air and moisture? Also with that, the openings between the stones you get water coming in.

So, to sum up what we’re talking about is, why should you repair a stone foundation? One, is if you’re going to sell the house, home inspectors are going to pick on it. Two, would be structural. Three, would be water. Four, would be rodents, snakes and rats coming through. So, those are the reasons we get calls all over Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, New Hampshire, to come out and repoint stone foundations.

Narrator: Well, you had me at rats and snakes, but I think all those are great reasons to repoint your stone foundation. Well, thanks Rich, great information and a call to action, for homeowners with stone foundations, to take care of these holes.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.


Crumbling Concrete Foundation...a cautionary tale in Quincy MA

- Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Not all foundations are created equally and as A1’s Civil Engineer, Adam Tracy has seen some bad ones .  In this episode, Adam shares a cautionary tale with our listeners about a crumbling foundation.

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Daddy himself, Adam Tracy. Adam and The Crack Man Rich have over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. Rich as over 25 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcasts provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: Crumbling concrete foundation...a cautionary tale in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Narrator: The topic of today’s podcast: I have a hairline crack in my foundation wall, how big of an issue is it? So Adam not all foundations are created equally and you’ve probably seen some bad ones as A1’s civil engineer on staff. You have a cautionary tale to share with our listeners about a crumbling foundation, right?

Adam: I do. And this is a very interesting case that we had come up recently here out of Quincy, Mass. This is an early generation foundation. As we’ve talked about in the past, there’s a lot of different types of foundations. They have three main categories. You have a fieldstone foundation, which is typically built anything prior to 1925 and earlier and then you have block and concrete foundations. Block and concrete foundations started, kind of taking over from the older fieldstone foundations somewhere in the 20s, pretty common, and then 30s and 40s, it was mostly concrete and block. So, what’s interesting is that the early version concrete foundations tend to be unique in that they’re more like a hybrid type of foundation. The reason why is that you had all these tradesmen who were used to building mortar-type of foundations with stone, now changing trades into the concrete industry as that took --- as the primary building construction type. And the issue that we had in this particular case is a result I think of that transition. So, this house was built in the early 30s and when we find these older homes that were built in the late 20s and 30s with concrete, we find that the concrete is just very soft, and what we found is that most of the reason why is that there’s a lot of fine aggregate in the concrete mix.

So, with most concrete mixes that we see, you see large aggregate like stones that can be as big as your thumb and then everything down to sand, and part of that mixture creates a nice strong foundation mixed with Portland cement and water, etc. So what we find is that these older foundations are built more like a stone foundation in the mix that they used, so they used far more sand which would be more like a mortar. So as a hundred years passes by, give or take, this foundation acts much more like a real stone foundation than it does a concrete foundation. So, usually when we deal with these types of foundations, they’re still substantially strong and structurally sound, and cracks that are developed in them can be repaired, the same methods that we typically use. But this particular case was an exception.

We had a home inspection that was being done and we worked with our local home inspectors to help guide them through some things that might be tricky and not out of the book and he had sent over an inquiry to us and said, geez, I’ve never seen something this bad. Which immediately got my interest level up quite a bit, so when he sent over the video, we then went out and saw it. The actual foundation was just absolutely crumbling apart, so much so that you could stick a screwdriver directly into the concrete wall and then basically just remove all the aggregate concrete right out of there. In this particular case the actual large size aggregate stones that are mixed into the concrete, which like I said, are most of the time the size of about your thumb. They looked like they dug through the yard and found any side of the size potato rock they could find and mixed it in there. So it was quite unusual where the stones that were mixed into this concrete pour are larger than average. There was way more sand than is typical for this time, and so the Portland concrete cement that actually holds and binds all this stuff together, the glue of the concrete, just never had enough of it to really survive.

But on further investigation on this one, the previous homeowners from way long time ago, made the situation much worse unintentionally, they actually took roofing tar, which was, you know, to tar a roof and waterproof the roof, because I’m sure they have water issues based on the fact that the concrete wasn’t the greatest. And somebody had dug out the entire foundation and tarred the entire foundation with roofing tar, in an effort to hopefully try to keep the water from going through. The problem with doing that happened, is that it trapped the moisture inside the concrete. All foundations naturally have water pass through, you know, most times it’s not active water leaking, but just water vapor. So you do have water transferring in from the outside, to the inside and vice versa. When they put this roofing tar on there, it trapped it and all of that water now accelerated the decay of the concrete. It’s probably one of the worst foundations that we’ve seen in a long time and unfortunately, for this homeowner, they have some major cost to repair it, and potentially remove and replace certain sections that were affected worse than others.

But it’s a cautionary tale that when you see an older foundation, to get a thorough evaluation of it to make sure that it’s strong because they’re not built to today’s standards. Today’s standards are very robust. There’s a lot of rules and regulations around them. There’s plenty of testing standards to make sure that it complies with everything that they’re trying to comply with. Back in the 30s, 40s, it was a little looser. So, when we come into these foundations, we want to make sure when homeowners are buying the home, they know what they’re getting. And for repairs that might need to be needed, the shift is a little bit different because we want to make sure that we match the right repairs to that type of foundation. Because even simple repairs could potentially damage them because they’re not quite to the standard of what we built with today. So, it was a very interesting case, and unfortunately, the homeowners got a little bit of homework to get their foundation up to par to today’s standards. But certainly something that could be resolved, it’s just a matter of time and materials and money.

Narrator: Wow. That’s always very educational Adam, and thanks for sharing this painful story, hopefully help somebody from buying a real money pit in the future.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.


A1 Foundation Crack Repair saves Real Estate deal for Frantic Real Estate Agent

- Thursday, May 27, 2021

A1 Foundation Crack Repair is known for saving real estate deals that are on the brink of disaster due to unexpected basement water leaks. The Crackman recounts a recent event where he saved a deal for a grateful Homeowner and real estate agent.

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Man himself, Rich Comeras. Rich has 30 years’ experience in the construction industry and over 25 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcasts provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: A1 Foundation Crack Repair saves real estate deal for frantic real estate agent.

Narrator:  So Rich, your company is known for saving real estate deals that are on the brink of disaster due to unexpected basement water leaks. Sounds like you have another case study to share with us?

Rich: Yeah, I do. This one is in Stoughton, Mass. I got a frantic call from a real estate broker that was doing a walkthrough with their customer that was ready to buy the house and they’re going to buy it the next day. And the movers came and they took the washer dryer for the people that lived in the house. And there was water coming in through a foundation crack in the cement wall from where the washer and dryer were. And you could tell from that, that it’s been going on quite a while and they had to have it taken care of before the closing.

So we came in and we repaired that foundation crack by drilling an angle to the crack, every six to eight inches putting up ports in, tighten up the ports and injecting a closed cell polymer resin material that actually worked its way towards the outside. It stopped the leak. We were able to give the people a warranty that that foundation crack was not going to leak. And now, these people are happy residents of Stoughton, Mass without a crack in the foundation and it’s nice to make people happy and to stop their basements from leaking on a permanent basis.

So, the moral of the story is, when you’re listing a house for sale, you really want to look at the walls to see if there are any cracks. And also, when you look at the walls, look behind some of the things that you may have stored there along with your washer and dryer and furnace. So that the deal doesn’t blow up in front of you.

Narrator: Awesome, great story Rich, and thanks for sharing.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.        


So, you think you have Basement Water problems…check out this bubbler in Leominster MA

- Thursday, May 27, 2021

A1 Foundation Crack Repair is known for saving real estate deals that are on the brink of disaster due to unexpected basement water leaks. The Crackman recounts a recent event where he saved a deal for a grateful Homeowner and real estate agent.

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Man himself, Rich Comeras. Rich has 30 years’ experience in the construction industry and over 25 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcasts provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: So you think you have basement water problems, check out this bubbler in Leominster MA.

Narrator:  So Rich, you have colorfully covered numerous basement water problems over the years, and you sent over a video before this podcast, it shows water bubbling up out of the floor. What can you tell us about it?

Rich: Yeah, this was interesting. When I went out to a property in Leominster and they said, “Jeez, we got some water coming and if I could take a look at it”. And so, I went out there to see some other issues and I looked at it and, you know, that video that you can look at, it was actually bubbling up from below and there was not any rain for the past, probably, week or so.

The first thing I want to see is, is there a broken pipe or something underneath that is causing that. So, we got the water checked by the town to be sure there wasn’t any chlorine or fluoride. They checked the water there wasn’t. And I told the owner of the property that if we stop it, that there’s a chance, because of the hydrostatic pressure, that it could cause cracking in the floor.

Another way that we take care of something like that would be to put a sump pump basin in there. A sump pump, so then the water would go subgrade to that sump pump and then pump it out. And that’s what they chose to do to divert the water into the sump pump and pump it out. Now I’ve gone on to other jobs and one that I can think of like that, a little bit different, but was a dam, concrete dam that was used and water was just squirting out of there tremendously.

Now, I know with the dam they use rebar, to make that concrete stronger. So we were able to stop the water that was very similar to that with various processes and took care of it. And the owner in Leominster was happy that we took care of that, and so was the town that we did that dam for, I think it was in Weston MA. So, water can be stopped, just takes some know-how and some patience.

Narrator: Well, great story Rich, as always. Thanks for explaining how this bubbling water geyser came out of the floor and I’m glad you’re able to get it fixed for them.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.        


It hasn’t rained in several weeks so why is my basement foundation leaking?

- Monday, May 17, 2021

Most basement water leaks occur when it rains a lot and the ground saturates.  So, why would a basement wall crack still be leaking when it’s dry outside? The Crack Daddy, Adam Tracy, explains.

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Daddy himself, Adam Tracy. Adam and The Crack Man Rich have over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. Rich as over 25 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcasts provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: It hasn’t rained in several weeks, so why is my basement foundation still leaking?

Narrator: The topic of today’s podcast: I have a hairline crack in my foundation wall, how big of an issue is it? So, Adam, most of your basement water leaks occur when it rains a lot and the ground saturates. So why would a basement wall crack still be leaking when it’s dry outside?

Adam: Yeah, we had this exact situation come up in Belmont, Massachusetts here, just the other day. We’ve been in a particularly big dry spell here through the month. And as we roll into spring, people are starting to get their lives back in order for outside activities. And we had a customer who was moving a lot of stuff out of his basement, for the outside patios and whatnot. And he said, Jeez, there’s a wall crack here, which he had known about for a while, but kind of ignored like people do.

And there was water coming through there, but it was a bright sunny day and it was no rain for the previous five days and really nowhere in sight coming after that. So, he gave us a call and said my crack is leaking and I need to find out why this is happening. So, of course, we had some major questions for him because it’s been extremely dry and we said well, where do you see? And so he described the crack just as we would normally expect in a poured concrete foundation. It was something that ran vertical from the top to the bottom. It was about a quarter inch wide. Consistent with the settling or shrinkage cracks that we repair, thousands of times a year.

But the question is, why was it leaking when there was no rain before, and no rain after, and no rain during, of course. So we asked them a few questions, well, where was it leaking from? Sometimes during dry spells, particularly in the spring months and then going into the fall months. If cracks are just leaking at the very bottom, it can be associated with a higher water table. So even though we haven’t had a lot of rain, as the ground begins to thaw out a little bit, and we do have the residual snowmelt from upstream sources. Sometimes the water table rises a bit and you can see water coming in through the crack towards the bottom. But this wasn’t the case for this person. So he said, well it appears to be leaking from the top down so I asked him, was it coming over the top of the concrete but it wasn’t. It was actually coming from probably around where ground level was and down to the ground.

So immediately, my red flags went up and said, well, this is a strange situation. So I began to inquire again of what else he is seeing around the lawn and is the lawn extremely saturated and it really wasn’t too bad. He said it was a little more wet in the area where the crack is coming in. So, I asked him, do you have any hoses going on in that area or any leaks from any sort of outdoor water spigot. And he said, no, everything’s turned off still from the winter. I don’t have any water coming out from the sources of the spigot. So on a hunch. I asked him. Did you have your irrigation system dewinterized and turned on? He said, well, you know what, I just had my irrigation system cleared out and brought back into service two days ago. And so, when did you start to see the issues? Well, about right after that. So I said, you know what? I’ll call your irrigation company to find out if there’s any leaks or cracks in the irrigation system that’s causing this and sure enough, they got the irrigation system company to come in. They looked at the water meter and they looked at that there was water flowing through the system, even though all the heads were not falling water and they were able to hunt down a connection that had come loose or broken through the winter time and it was leaking water right next to the foundation.

So even though it hadn’t rained in weeks before and it wasn’t currently raining when it happened, water was coming in and we were able to figure out that it was actually the irrigation system as a source of leak. We’re able to fix that crack. No problem for them. And now even if the irrigation system does leak again, not going to come into his basement.

Narrator: Great information, Adam. Thanks for solving this fascinating mystery.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.


How Big of an Issue is a Hairline Crack in a Basement Wall?

- Monday, April 26, 2021

Adam Tracy, aka The CrackDaddy, aka The Engineer on staff, is here with us to share some more of his engineering wisdom with us.  In this episode, Adam discusses a case where a homeowner was prepping his house for sale. He noticed a hairline crack in the basement wall.  It was just a thin, tiny crack.  How big of an issue was it, Adam explains.

Narrator: The topic of today’s podcast: I have a hairline crack in my foundation wall, how big of an issue is it? So, Adam, a homeowner walks down of the basement one day and notices a hairline crack in their foundation wall. It’s just a thin tiny crack, nothing to worry about, right?

Adam: Well that is the common misconception that everyone has, that it’s just a tiny little issue. It’s been there for as long as they know and it’s never going to be an issue, it’s normal part of things. In a lot of ways, it’s concrete, it’s bound to crack at some point but hairline cracks can present the same issues as something that would be as wide as a quarter of an inch.

We often get phone calls from people saying, “I’ve lived in this house for 25 years and it’s never leaked once, and then, lo and behold, it leaked”. It hasn’t changed size, it hasn’t gotten worse, at least to their eyes, and all of a sudden it starts leaking. Well, what happens? Well, usually what happens is that water finds a way, water always does find a way. Because of that it eventually moves all the dirt and soil and mud, that’s stuck into that crack out of the way and so water can come in. But what happens when we have a house that doesn’t have that water issue, why would you want to preventatively repair it?

We start to get into the spring real estate market, we get these questions all the time from homeowners and real estate agents and prospective buyers for homes. Hairline cracks can present an issue beyond just water leaking. Here’s a couple of reasons why: as a homeowner, in looking at a small hairline crack, you may not realize that it does leak, it may dry by the time you get down there and that might be an issue because during a walk-through on the house, it may be a rainy day. And what would they see when they walk down? A nice little puddle right outside the crack, or right inside the crack that you may not recognize because you’re not down in the basement every day.

The other big issue that you have is most cracks will be flagged by a home inspector. Home inspectors are trained and they go through extensive training and education process to make sure that they pick issues out so that homeowners and prospective homeowners can make educated decisions based on what is the current state of the home. So, they’ll see these hairline cracks and they’ll note them as deficiencies in the foundation and they’ll probably tell you to consult a foundation expert, or, depending on the bedside manner of the home inspector they may tell you it’s a big deal or maybe they’ll tell you it’s not a big deal. But the reality is, is that they’ll note it, and once the home inspector does note it, it does become a negotiating point for the buyers. So, an issue that may have cost less than a thousand dollars to repair, can be a ten thousand dollar negotiating point because they have concerns about the structural safety of the home.

So as a homeowner, getting these things repaired before that happens, kind of squashes the fears of prospective buyers. Another thing that usually happens from a house sale perspective is that the bank gets involved, most people have to use their loan or get a loan to purchase a home and so the bank sends out an appraiser and they come through and inspect the home after the purchase and sale to see, well, what are they getting into as the underwriter for the loan. Are they going to basically give you a big fat loan for a house that is going to collapse at some point in time or that is not going to be worth the paper they’re writing it on? So, they’ll go through and look at the issues brought up by the home inspector and then they’ll also flag anything else that they believe has importance for their underwriting process. So, we get this especially with FHA loans and VA loans, they’re very scrutinous of all foundation issues and they will flag every single one.

Now what does this do as a person who’s buying or selling the home? With buying or selling a home, this delays the whole process, or in some cases, it can blow the whole process up. So you spent six weeks, eight weeks getting through the purchase and sale, the open houses, negotiating, you crossed all the T’s, you dotted all the I’s, the bank comes in in the eleventh hour and says, I’m not going to write a loan for this house because of this hairline crack. And even though it doesn’t seem like it’s an issue, they don’t care, they are the ones who’s giving the money out, so they want it fixed. So, to avoid this whole process, getting these hairline cracks fixed, even whether or not they leak, starts to get this process moving along a lot faster. It opens up your buyer pool to a lot more potential buyers, giving you the maximum value that you can return on the sale of your house.

Narrator: Well very informative, Adam. Thanks for clearing out why it’s important to fix those hairline cracks. Great information, Adam. It’s good to know that this can be done without spending tens of thousands of dollars on a new foundation.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.        


What can be done about block foundations that bow inwards?

- Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Adam Tracy, aka The CrackDaddy, aka The Engineer on staff, is here with us to share some more of his engineering wisdom with us.  In this episode, Adam explains why foundations bow inward and what can be done about it?

Narrator: The topic of today’s podcast: What can be done about block foundations that bow inwards? Adam Tracy a.k.a. The CrackDaddy a.k.a. The Engineer on staff, is here with us today to share some more of his wonderful engineering wisdom. So, Adam, I understand you’re getting some calls about foundations that are bowing inward. What causes that and what can be done about it?

Adam: Yeah this is a unique situation that really primarily affects block foundation construction. So, when we talk about block foundation, we’re talking about cinder blocks, something that you might be familiar with going to the local big box hardware store, they’re usually scattered about there. So, these cinder block foundations, they’re usually constructed anytime after the 30s and it’s a relatively inexpensive material to construct the foundation. And they’re stacked one on top of each other in a staggered pattern, just like you would lay bricks, and mortared together. And most times they’re not filled, so they’re empty hollow blocks, and sometimes they are filled, but the vast majority of them in residential construction are hollow.

So, the challenge with a hollow construction wall that is held together by mortar is that they’re susceptible to a sideways push in or out of the foundation, and they’re also susceptible to leaning. A concrete foundation is a little bit stronger and it has less chance of, kind of, buckling under a sideways push. But because you have, basically, all these blocks that are staggered together and held together by a mortar, they do have the tendency to fail during a sideways push. So, what can cause this? Well in New England, we have a lot of varying soils and a lot of varying soil types.

On the Cape Cod area, the soil is very sandy, and a lot of the issues that we see in Cape Cod with block construction is due to the soil issue, not bearing a very strong soil so it is susceptible to that. A lot of times what we’ll see is during the wintertime, freezing and thawing and heating of the soil can cause outward pressure to push the foundations inward. Another area that can cause the foundations to go inward is having a large root structure, whether it’s plantings right next to the foundation or maybe it’s that big old oak tree that’s out in the front yard with a huge root system, and it tends to push on the walls. So what can we do about that?

Well, we can’t change the soil conditions, generally, and that would take a very big effort of digging out and replacing that. So, what can we do to a foundation to actually help resist this movement or improve the ability to hold the house up? When we start to see these foundations pushing inward, there’s kind of a point of no return, when it starts to go too far inward, you lose the ability for the house to stay stable above, and in those cases, you might have to replace the foundation. But prior to that, the telltale signs that we see are step cracking in block foundations where the crack will go down one over one, down one over one, almost like a staircase, or you’ll see a large horizontal crack that runs left to right across the wall, these are the early signs that you’ve lost the strength in that wall to resist the push of the soil from the outside. So is that it? We just throw our hands up and say, well, we got to move because we can’t deal with this now? No, we can still save these pretty easily before it gets too bad and before it gets to that replacement category.

There’s a process that we can use to evaluate how much bowing has occurred and whether or not we could keep it from bowing further. So providing that we can evaluate that and it’s still within the realm of being safe, which is the vast majority of them, what we use is a structural carbon fiber technology, and this structural carbon fiber was originally developed for commercial use and used in concrete overpasses, on highways, and what their uses there is it strengthens the concrete against heavy loads of trucks and even rail systems so that it doesn’t buckle and chunk out pieces of concrete down below to the roadways and any sort of passenger cars that might be underneath.

So these are extremely strong pieces of carbon fiber that can get attached to the foundation wall and add in a tremendous amount of strength to the block foundation. Every strap that we put on is the equivalent of bolting on a half inch stick steel plate that’s 12 inches wide from the top to the bottom. So if you’ll kind of put that in your mind of how strong that would be to resist any sort of movement inside, it’s almost like strapping on an I-beam every 4-5 feet across to the foundation. That’s a relatively non-invasive process, it can be done in, usually, less than a day for a wall, and then the beautiful thing about it is that you can paint right over it and you won’t even see that they’re there. So these old foundations or these block foundations can be easily maintained, if you start to see these horizontal or step cracking, then we have a process that’s non-invasive and can maintain that integrity of the wall for a long time.

Narrator: Great information, Adam. It’s good to know that this can be done without spending tens of thousands of dollars on a new foundation.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.        




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