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Now is the Time for Us to Say "Thanks" to YOU!

Joseph Coupal - Monday, November 25, 2019
A-1 Foundation Crack Repair - MA, RI

Thanksgiving Day is the perfect time to remind one another of the many reasons there are to be grateful. We gather on this day to be thankful for what we have, for the family we love, the friends we cherish, the success we have had, and for the blessings that will come.

Thanksgiving is more than the festivities, it gives us time to ponder the lessons that we have learned and how we can spread happiness around, to look back at all the great memories and good people who came into our lives. We appreciate you, our customers and clients, so much.

At this time of year our thoughts turn gratefully to you with warm appreciation. Our best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.

Why are Pests getting into my Basement?

Joseph Coupal - Friday, November 15, 2019

In this episode, A1 Crack's Adam Tracy explains how critters are getting in basements and what can be done about it.

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. We’re here with the Crackman himself, Rich Comeras. Rich has 30 years of experience in the construction industry and over 20 years experience as the President and founder of A1 Foundation and Crack Repair Inc. His podcasts provides expert basement water proofing, 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 within the basement, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic for today’s podcast: Why are Pests getting into my Basement?

Narrator: Today we’re joined again by Adam Tracy. Now Adam, nobody wants to think of their house, or their home, or their basement as a habitat for critters. How are they finding their way into the house?

Adam: Well, this time of year we get a lot of phone calls from homeowners where they see a lot of pests coming in and out of their foundation and into their basement areas. Part of the reason why this happens is because as the days get shorter and the temperature start varying a little bit more. It’s a signal to all those little critters that “Hey it’s time to hunker down, winter’s coming here.” And they try to find a place that’s a nice temperature controlled environment, and when you’re below grade it’s a little bit easier to maintain a temperature whether you’re a snake, a rodent, or a bug. So, they try to find anything that they can to get in there. Now when we’re looking in these foundations, there’s obviously 3 types of foundations that we’re looking at: we have our stone foundations, and then our block, and our poured concrete foundations. Now the stone foundations, we get the most calls for rodent infiltration. Now we’re not a pest control company, but a lot of pest control companies will set up traps and will be happy to eradicate whatever comes in. But part of it is the prevention of this, and when they’re trying to come into the foundation, the obvious place is any holes or gaps in your foundation wall where the stone foundation is held together by the mortar. Now any of the breakdown in the mortar can allow a highway of rodents and snakes to come in there. Just yesterday we had an issue with snakes coming into a woman’s basement. And we were able to get out there and resolve that issue by basically going in and taking out the old mortar that’s starting to deteriorate and crumble, and then re-packing it with a new mortar to prevent anything from coming from the outside into the inside. So, it’s really about a preventative maintenance portion of it, while also hoping the integrity of your walls stay fresh for years to come.

Narrator: So, these stone foundations are basically just foundations made out of fieldstones, right? These big large stones, and then you put mortar in between them to hold them all together, and over time these things break down and that’s how they’re getting in. They’re getting in through the little holes, and cracks and stuff, right?

Adam: Exactly, yeah. These stone foundations can be hundreds of years old, even. And the mortar that was mixed in there was hand mixed by a mason many, many years ago, long removed from the workforce at this point. And as the stones move through the wintertime with freezing and thawing cycles, it breaks down the mortar joints in between there. For instance, a mouse only needs about the size of a quarter (and even smaller in some cases) to get into a foundation. So those little tiny gaps that don’t really seem like a big issue, once they’re able to get in there they can basically tunnel out a highway into your foundation, or stay in the nice cool feel, 50-60 degrees in the wintertime and it doesn’t really have a whole lot of snow, ice and rain to worry about so they kind of naturally find a space down there to call home for the winter.

Narrator: So, what do you do on the other types of foundations? You talked about the stone foundation, that was obvious just replacing the mortar but what about, like the concrete block foundations and the regular, just concrete foundations?

Adam: Sure, now these foundations are a little bit more of a solid surface type foundation, so it’s not like you have all these stones piled on top of each other, held together by the mortar. So, with the block foundation and the poured concrete foundation, we have to look at, basically flaws in the foundation. Whether there’s cracks anywhere, or a very susceptible area is between where the top of the foundation meets the underside of the house which is called the sill plate. So, when you have gaps in that area, you really have to pay attention to those spots because that’s again, a spot where small animals can find a way through. Now in terms of concrete foundations and block foundations, another thing that we have to worry about is a little bit of the smaller scale pest is we’re looking at termites and all those types of insects. When we have cracks in the foundation, that is a highway access for a pest to come from the outside to the inside. And if you have a wood boring insect like a termite, they only need about a 16th of an inch or even less in some cases to find their way from the inside to the outside. So they basically send out a little scout team to go find some wood to munch on, if they find a path from the outside to the inside, they signal to all their friends that, hey this is a highway access to some good food for the wintertime and then to be able to take shelter for a long period of time. So obviously repairing any foundation cracks prevents any sort of termite mitigation issues that you have to deal with.

Narrator: Yikes, and we all know what termites can do to our house, so obviously that’s something you want to get taken care of if you have any of those cracks, or holes, or anything like that. And if you’re a person that fancies yourself to be an environment for critters and things like that, I guess you can just ignore. But for the rest of us who want our homes to be free of mice and critters, and termites, and things like that, getting those holes fixed will be a good idea.

Narrator: Well, thanks again Adam for explaining how critters are getting into basements and what we can do about it. If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation repair and 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.

Why is the back part of my Garage Floor pulling away from the Foundation Wall?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, November 14, 2019

In this episode, Adam Tracy (aka “The Crack Daddy”) discusses the causes for garage flooring pulling away from foundation walls. Listen and enjoy!

Narrator: The topic of today’s podcast, a Crackman case study: Why is the back part of my Garage Floor pulling away from the Foundation Wall? Today we have Adam Tracy joining us to talk about some very interesting issues he has dealt with concerning garages and foundation walls. I mean it’s really fascinating. So Adam, what’s going on there?

Adam: Oh we’ve had a couple of cases that we’ve dealt with recently, most recent being in Lexington that we dealt with. It’s to deal with a concrete foundation wall that seems to be pulling away from the main portion of the foundation. Understanding why that happens is a critical part of our profession and determines how we approach the repair. Most often we see this is when the grade of the foundation drops off from the front of the foundation to the back. And when you have an attached garage, a lot of times you’ll see cracking develop along that back wall, where you have only maybe 18 inches of concrete showing above grade towards the front, but you may have 4, 5, 6 feet of concrete showing in the back of the foundation where your garage is. Now, when we see a crack here on the wall where the back wall meets the side wall, a lot of times what we’ll see is that that wall starts pulling away from the main foundation. And you may see it with a large gap developing along the back wall, between the floor of the garage, and the back wall of the garage foundation. You may also see a large gap starting to form in the corner of the outside of the foundation where the back of the foundation meets the side foundation.

Narrator: So, what if I was complacent. I just decided I didn’t want to fix this problem and just let it go. What could happen with my home?

Adam: Well this is the first sign of a structural issue that needs to be remedied, so you’re going to be dealing with a much more expensive repair if it goes untreated. Now, the reason why we want to deal with this earlier than later is you have to understand the strength of concrete is really in the compression where it wants to be pushed straight down. And the construction of a garage is a little bit different than a house because obviously, if you’re driving your car into the garage that might be 4, 5 feet above the soil line, they fill that with sand or gravel, they basically fill the void space. Your basement doesn’t have that, so you have a lot of sand, and gravel, and weight, and even the pressure of the cars pushing down onto the soil and it’s going horizontally into the wall, where the strength of the wall really isn’t. If you leave it to go for a long period of time, it can be a much larger structural issue. So, how do we repair this and how do we approach it? The best way to do it in the early stages of this is to anchor it to itself, anchor the foundation back to the foundation, and also the foundation floor to the foundation. And the best way to do that is with rebar. Now, rebar works the exact opposite way that concrete does. All of its strength, it likes to be pulled, just like a paperclip, much stronger being pulled apart than it is trying to be pushed together. So it works in conjunction with the foundation that is trying to get pulled apart. Basically, we’re going to anchor the foundation to itself where the form meets the foundation walls, and also where the foundation meets the foundation where this crack has developed. Now, we can’t get underneath the garage floor because it’s filled with gravel and sand, so the majority of this application’s repairs have to be done from the outside. This will tie it all in together and prevent further movement down the line.

Narrator: Alright. Well, thanks Adam for bringing to light this rather common issue with garage floors pulling away from the foundation walls. It’s good to know that there are guys like you who are experts in fixing this potentially critical issue. If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation repair and 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.

Do-it-yourself foundation crack repair: is it a good idea?

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. We’re here with the Crackman himself, Rich Comeras. Rich has 30 years of experience in the construction industry and over 20 years experience as the President and founder of A1 Foundation and Crack Repair Inc. His podcasts provides expert basement water proofing, 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 within the basement, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic for today’s podcast: Do-it-yourself foundation crack repair: is it a good idea?

Narrator: So, Rich, the big box stores are full of home remedy for leaky, concrete cracks. Products like Drylock, Fast Plug and the ubiquitous Flex Seal tout their amazing abilities to solve water leaks fast. If that’s the case and if it’s so easy, why do we need professionals like you?

Rich: Well if it worked, I wouldn’t be around for over 21 years. It’s interesting, you’re in Massachusetts and even in New Hampshire, the past few weeks we’ve had some horrendous downpours and we’ve been quite busy. And this past week, I’ve probably had about 4 people call me up and tell me that they’ve tried to fix their foundation crack, and I always ask them, “What is it you used?” Well, 3 of the 4 did the one that markets the best which is the Flex Seal. And also an interesting thing, I don’t know if it just doesn’t work on concrete cracks or the way they used it. I don’t know, but we’re consistently getting calls to repair the stuff that they used. . Then we had a fellow call us, we caught that he had a triple because he told me he put Fast Plug which is a hydraulic cement but it’s a masonry material that he put on. And the reason that doesn’t work is because concrete contracts and hydraulic cement Fast Plug does not. This guy not only did the Fast Plug first, but he wanted to be sure so he put Drylock, which is a magic paint that you can put on concrete and that’s supposed to stop water coming through. And if you look at the pounds per square inch that it will stop, that isn’t much. So that’s two of them, the Fast Plug and the Drylock. The triple that he applied was Flex Seal that you see advertising on TV all the time. He sprayed that on too. On his work bench, he kept a collection of all three of those things. So yeah, take a look at my blog, you’ll see a picture of that triple play: the Flex Seal, Drylock and Fast Plug. And we came in and fixed it by injecting a closed-cell polymer resin with an electric pump into that crack where the material goes towards the outside and we can give him a warranty. He was very thankful that we can do that as his wife was all over him in reference to his home remedies.

Narrator: I’m sure that was pretty frustrating for him. I’m guessing that with all the money that he was collecting in his “swear jar”, that he was able to pay you with that money itself, right?

Rich: Ah, that’s correct. We fixed it well. Narrator: Sometimes it’s better just to do it right the first time and call a professional like the Crackman versus trying to do it yourself and getting frustrated in having the same problem occur over and over and over again, right?

Rich: That’s correct. Plus, it’s going to save you money in the long run. And you get a warranty that transfers.

Narrator: Alright, that’s awesome. Well thanks again Rich for saving the DIY-er from themselves and being there when they realize that these products are temporary fixes, at best. 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 or Adam at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.

What Are The Beam Pockets And I should Be Worried About Them?

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, November 12, 2019

In this episode, Richard Comeras (aks “The Crackman”) defines “Beam Pockets” as they pertain to a structure’s foundational health and whether or not you need to worry about them. Listen and enjoy!

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. We’re here with the Crackman himself, Rich Comeras. Rich has 30 years of experience in the construction industry and over 20 years experience as the President and founder of A1 Foundation and Crack Repair Inc. His podcasts provides expert basement water proofing, 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 within the basement, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic for today’s podcast: What are Beam Pockets and should I be worried about them?

Narrator: So today we have Adam with us again, very knowledgeable crack repair expert. And Adam, today is the first time I’ve ever heard of the term Beam Pockets, so maybe we should start with what a beam pocket is.

Adam: Sure, so what the beam pocket is it’s an area in the foundation, you know anywhere from an older foundation of stone foundation to a new construction foundation where the main carrying beam for the house, the spine of the structure down the basement rests on the foundation wall. So the newer construction home is actually a cut-out in the foundation where the wood, or sometimes steel beams will rest on the foundation to carry a load down to the foundation to the footing. In older homes, you’ll see them as a notch underneath or a gap in the stonework, where the beam would be in there and then there’s more around it. So the purpose of this area is again to kick the load of carrying beam for the house and put it to the foundation wall. We end up seeing a lot of cracks and issues develop around these areas. Primarily the reason why is because we have a concentrated weight of the house being carried from that main carrying beam to the outside edges of the house, where the foundation will take that weight and bring it down to the soil. In newer construction homes, these are going to be generally made of concrete, and anytime you have a right angle in a concrete - like in a window, a beam pocket, or a step down in the foundation, it’s a natural weak point in the concrete that causes stress in there. So it’s very common to see cracks develop in these areas.

Narrator: Alright, so are these beam pockets something that should be inspected on a regular basis? I mean it sounds pretty important and we think that you have to make sure that they’re always in good shape, right?

Adam: Yeah. They should be looked at periodically for sure, because what we’ll see is, we’ll start with newer homes, we’ll see small cracks develop off the corners of the beam pockets. And the reason why is because like we mentioned, that right angle of the concrete there. It creates a natural weak point, and because you have that extra weight in that area being carried to that beam, or that I-beam, or the wood, it will actually cause a little bit of differential settling there. Most of the time that’s just a settling or shrinkage crack that develops off the corner, and a pretty standard process can be used to repair that crack in the foundation. However, sometimes you may have too much settling in that area and that would be cause for concern to a different course of action.

Narrator: Okay so as a based on water and Lally column expert, where would you come into play when Foundation Crack Repair come to play when structural issues are found around these beam pockets?

Adam: Sure. Let’s start with newer homes generally made of concrete construction. In this area most of the time you’ll see a crack develop off and it’ll kind of come from that corner and go down towards the floor. In most cases, it'll just be necessary to repair that crack because it may start leaking at some point, or may already be leaking. And you also don’t want to go any further because that scenario where there’s a concentrated load being centered on the concrete wall, you want to make sure that the concrete is repaired. Now, if there’s an additional issue where there’s deflection or 1 side of the concrete is being pushed out anywhere, or there’s a settling that’s too great, that’s when we want to take the weight off of that wall a little bit. And the best way to do that is to insert a Lally column in there, and what we’d have to do is we’d have to break the floor, dig down, rebar reinforced concrete footing, put a Lally column up with a big 6 steel plate. And the idea of this is now that this Lally column is helping support the wall, so you’re no longer going to rely solely on this concrete which has a flaw and that to take the weight of this portion of the house. As we move to older construction homes with a fieldstone foundation, you don’t generally have just a crack that runs down the floor, you may see some deterioration of the mortar or accelerated deterioration of the mortar. You may see additional cracking, you may see large gaps in the mortar, or you may see cracks and splits in the beams itself because it’s putting excess weight on these walls. In these cases, just repairing the mortar joints is almost never enough. You really need to support the wall by adding in a Lally column to the same process that we talked about before. So you really in these older homes, because they’re older and they have settled for a lot longer period of time. You really want to make sure that area is supported well, and so that you can survive the longer length of that beam than what is done in general construction today.

Narrator: Awesome! Thank you Adam. You say you learn something new everyday and I certainly did with beam pockets, so thanks for introducing us to what beam pockets are and what to do when they start to show signs of structure problems.

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 or Adam 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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