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What Should I do About Wetness at Bottom of a New Sheetrock Wall in my Basement?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, August 30, 2018

Imagine the disdain of a homeowner who just had new sheet rock done, and suddenly saw wetness at the bottom of the wall.

We got a call from a builder who had recently finished the basement walls; he had studded them, put in the insulation, and the walls had been plastered. Keep in mind that plaster starts as a powder; one part powder to two or three parts water. The homeowners went away for a week, a week during which we hadn't gotten any rain. They came home and their plastered, sheet rock was all wet towards the bottom.

They were blaming the builder, thinking that he had punched a hole in the floor by anchoring the wood and that water was now coming up and causing this. The builder wanted to take care of the customer, so he called us.

I knew what it was. All that water that was in the plaster while the house was all closed up with no dehumidifier, showed up at the bottom of their sheet rocked wall. Once they put in fans and a dehumidifier in there the problem cleared up. There was nothing that the builder did wrong.

The dehumidifier and fans solved the problem. We didn't have to do any repair at all, we just offered our advice.

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

How To Fix Leaking Basement Walls

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, August 02, 2018
A1 Foundation Crack Repair - MA, RI, CT, NH

There are few things worse for a homeowner than finding water in the basement, especially when it’s not entirely clear where it’s coming from. Fortunately, water seeping through your basement walls isn’t always a cause for alarm.

There are a number of potential causes for basement leaks, some of which have easy and relatively inexpensive solutions.

Use these steps below to locate your leak and determine the best fix for your “weeping” walls.

How to Locate the Source of Your Basement Leak

As soon as you notice wet spots on your basement floor or wall, investigate the area around it to see if there are any obvious sources.

“Signs of a basement water problem include small streams of water, damp walls, and puddling on the floor. The most common way that water enters a basement is through the foundation wall-floor joint,” says Mallory Finch, marketing coordinator at Baker’s Waterproofing & Foundation Repair.

The wall-floor joint, also known as a cove joint, is one of the most common culprits of basement leaks due to the gap between the wall and floor. As the amount of groundwater builds up, such as during a heavy rainstorm, more pressure is placed on the joint, allowing water to seep in.

Apart from wall-floor joints, here are a few other common sources of basement leaks:

  • The tops of your walls: Water can seep over the top of your basement walls when the ground surrounding your home is level or sloped towards your home.
  • Wall cracks: Cracks in the wall are one of the most serious causes of basement leaks and often become apparent when it rains. These are fairly noticeable in unfinished basements, but in unfinished basements you’ll have to inspect the outside of the foundation for cracks that run through the wall.

“If it’s a finished basement, we look outside and we look at those areas above grade.
If there’s a crack in the wall, then that crack goes all the way down. In that case, we open up the wall and repair it.”

Richard Comeras | Founder, A-1 Foundation Crack Repair

  • Floor cracks: As with wall cracks, cracks in your basement floor can also be a sign of a serious problem. Cracks smaller than an 1/8 of an inch wide are normal, but anything wider should be sealed.
  • Tie rod holes: More common in older homes, these holes appear in poured concrete foundations where tie rods were used to hold wood planks together. Luckily, plugging these holes is a quick and easy repair.
  • Window wells: The wells outside your basement windows may let water in when there’s insufficient drainage around your property or when your gutters aren’t working properly.
  • Honeycombs: Poorly mixed concrete can sometimes create air pockets within basement walls, resulting in “honeycomb” marks along the wall. These bubbly patches are usually a minor problem and can be sealed up.
  • Leaking pipes: Drain pipes are another possible culprit for basement leaks. Check your ceiling and walls for stains or mold.

Is the water rising? Learn what to do when your basement floods.

How to Fix Minor Basement Wall Leaks

Stopping a basement leak can be as simple task, as long as you know that the problem isn’t more serious. Here are a few relatively easy DIY solutions you can use to fix a leaky basement from the inside and outside:

  • Replace Window Wells: Replacing old or rusted window wells will give water one less possible point of entry and keep the soil away from your window openings.
  • Clean Gutters & Adjust Spouts: “Clean your gutters and extend downspouts to keep roof water far away from the foundation. You won’t want to rely on this alone to keep your basement dry,” says Finch.
  • Install a Dehumidifier: A dehumidifier won’t stop basement leaks, but it will remove any excess moisture from the air.
  • Regrade Your Soil: Regrading the soil surrounding your foundation will help divert ground and surface water downhill, instead of into your basement. Use this quick how-to guide to determine the slope of your yard, then either call a landscaper or adjust the slope yourself using a skid steer loader and a garden tiller.
  • Plug Tie Rod Holes: If you’re certain your leak is coming from the tie rod holes in your wall, all you need to do is plug them using a compressed swell plug. WikiHow has an in-depth article that explains how to install these yourself.

How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Leaking Basement Wall?

The cost to fix a basement wall varies based on the complexity of the problem.
The most minor repair jobs cost under $1,000, while the most comprehensive
repairs can carry a price tag as high as $10,000.

Call a Professional for More Serious Issues

A1 Foundation Crack Repair - Sump Pumps in MA, RI, CT, NH
Sump pumps are commonly used in basements with chronic leaks.

If your basement wall is leaking due to something more complex, such as a large crack in the foundation, call a professional waterproofing contractor to explore potential solutions.

Pro Tip: Vet Your Contractor Beforehand

“We recommend that you research each contractor that you work with.
Check their online reviews, ask for references, and check out the repair solutions
on their website and how they compare to other waterproofing contractors.”

Mallory Finch | Marketing Coordinator, Baker’s Waterproofing & Foundation Repair

There are a number of fixes that your contractor may recommend, including:

  • Waterproofing Membranes: Your contractor may recommend installing a waterproof coating or membrane on either side of your foundation. According to Finch, this “helps prevent moisture and humidity from passing through. This will also improve the appearance of damp, stained, chalky, or flaky walls.”
  • Exterior French Drain: Exterior French drains redirect surface and groundwater away from a basement. However, these drains are difficult to install with already-built houses as it requires digging up the perimeter of the home and working around utility lines.
  • Interior Drain & Sump Pump: A more permanent solution for chronic leaks is to install interior drains under your basement floor. These drainage systems are often paired with a sump pump that pumps the water out of your basement.

These solutions for basement seepage involve more time and money, but they all offer long-term fixes for weeping walls and other basement leaks. A good contractor will walk you through the project beforehand and answer any questions you have regarding costs and timing.

No matter how frustrating the repair process gets, remember that afterwards you’ll have a nice, dry basement to enjoy.


How Did a Snake Get into my Basement?

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 30, 2018

This is a pretty cool picture of a snake skin sticking out of a house, which means the snake was still inside the house. How does something like that happen?

Well it did freak out the homeowner. This was a woman we had done some work for who lives in a condo in Hudson, MA. She's affectionately known as "the snake woman" now. I went over there and took a look. She has a poured concrete foundation and I looked at any cracks that were there: there were a few that were large enough for a snake. I looked at one in particular and there was the skin of the snake. Naturally she wanted us to take care of it permanently.

By the time I had gotten there, the property manager had already thrown some caulking in and around. This didn't work because we saw the snake skin after he had left. We went over there and filled in the cracks with an epoxy based material which hardens so she can now live snake-free.

But, not only can snakes get into small cracks, these foundation cracks also open your home up to rodents, insects, carpenter ants and more, along with cold air and water.

It's a good idea to plug the holes in your basement. The crackman can stop water and critters. For more information on basement crack repair, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Why A1 Foundation Crack Repair Should be on Every Realtor’s Contact List

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 27, 2018

A lot of work goes into getting a property ready to become the perfect home. No matter the market, every house needs something. Some homes require a little touchup; others may need a lot more work. Top performing realtors have a network of service providers ready to jump on opportunities to get potential listings into SOLD signs. As a realtor, the service partners selected must be trusted and relied upon to make sure the deal closes as quickly as possible. Here are the characteristics that should be considered when building your service company partner network.

Responsiveness and Access

Real Estate can be a 24/7 business, and your service partner network should be as well. Sometimes issues or questions come up that are outside your areas of expertise. In these cases, you would want to speak to a live pro right then and there. Service partners should be expected answer the phone while you are working in the evening and on weekends. Also, the service company should be able to give you a verbal or written proposal for the work within 24 hours of your conversation. Leaving a message and getting a return call after 72 hours with a proposal one week later does not help you. Every day that goes by is a missed opportunity to close the deal. When you are working, your service partners should be as well.

Track Record and Experience

Service businesses come and go, but the ones who stick around have built a track record of success and experience to get the job done right. When selecting a partner, investigate how long they have been performing the work and how knowledgeable they are. Is their website educational and up-to-date or does it look like it was created 25 years ago listing only a fax number and billing address? Next, make sure they stand by their work by checking to see insured and if there is a transferrable warranty on the service they are providing. Finally, check to see if they are a specialized business that will handle your exact needs or a catch-all business with a lot of “bolt-on” services. It’s common for organizations to add different service businesses without any history or knowledge-base of the services being performed. Specialized businesses move fast, have the right solutions for the job, and can leave you and your clients with a peace of mind.

Customer Ratings and Reviews

A company touting their own greatness continues to be met with an increasing consumer resistance. In today’s market, fancy logos and catchy slogans are far less important the independent review. The service company is an extension of your reputation; poor workmanship, rude personalities, untimely responses, and questionable ethics are all examples of pitfalls that could prevent you from closing deals and filling your pipeline with more opportunities. Resources such as the BBB, Google Reviews, Yelp, Angie’s List, and Home Advisor should be explored for reviews on the performance of the service company. Also, it is always good to check with other brokers to see if they have used the service provider you are researching.

Understands the Real Estate Sales Process

Understanding the pinch points of the real estate sales process and how to get past them elevates your broker status. When aligning with service partners, they should also know how their work fits in the big-picture real estate transaction. The service partner should know how Home Inspectors examine a property and how they identify certain items under service provider’s “jurisdiction”. Specifically, they should know how to avoid the home inspector’s report if addressing the item before the inspection, or to satisfy the report if they are addressing the item after the home inspection. The service partner should also know how their work can affect the lender’s appraisal and underwriting process. Since the property is expected change hands, it is incumbent upon the service provider to tell you and your client how the work will transfer from the seller to the buyer.

Your individual success can be hampered by bad partners or accelerated by great partners. In the end, if you select the right service companies to build your network, you’ll be closing the deal at a much higher rate. Who doesn’t want that?

How to Tell if you have Poured Concrete or a Stone Foundation?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 19, 2018

If you have a finished basement, it may be hard to tell the difference between a poured concrete or stone foundation. But, it's usually not hard to tell at all. Look in the basement; if you see stones you have a stone foundation, if you see smooth cement walls you have poured concrete.

It becomes tricky when people do renovations or rehabs on a house. They'll put in a layer of mortar over the stones to make it smooth so it looks like a poured concrete foundation. That is where you have to be careful.

There is a way you can tell. You have to poke around a little bit. If there are some loose areas poke in there and remove a little bit of mortar and see. Or, you can tap on it with your knuckle or lightly with a hammer; if you hear hollow sounds you can pretty much be sure that it is mortar that has been put on top of a stone foundation. This is done on the inside and sometimes on the outside as well.

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

What Can be Done about Water Leaking in an Elevator Pit?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 05, 2018

This is actually a case study for a residential elevator pit that was being put in by a high-end builder/remodeler in Newton, MA. He had put in a home addition behind where he had put in the elevator pit, which is slightly below the basement. He told me it was leaking where the floor of the elevator pit meets the foundation.

We went in and injected a polymer resin by drilling into the seam, putting our ports in, and injecting the polymer resin. Everything was good. Then we got some very heavy rain and it was leaking again. We went over there next time it was raining, and it was actually not leaking from where we injected, but from about 4" or 5" higher where there was no crack. We had stopped the water from coming in at that seam but there were small fissure cracks that the water found it's way to. As it was coming through, you could see more little areas where the water was coming out. This means that the concrete was either too watery or was not vibrated enough to let these little fissures out. I also found out that there is ledge right behind the pit. This could mean that the concrete may not be very thick.

To address this, we used a crystalized quartz material that penetrates the concrete and then grows microscopically in the pours of the concrete to stop the water.

There have been some good, heavy rains since then and there have been no issues. If you have a leaking elevator pit a basement waterproofing problem, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Should I Hire a Structural Engineer for a Foundation Crack?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 28, 2018

We got a call from a woman in Needham, MA who bought a house a month or two ago. She had a crack off the foundation window in the basement. I asked her all the normal questions that I ask in order to get a good idea if it is structural or not:

Does it leak? How wide is it? Does it go at a great angle or a slight angle? Upstairs are there any windows in that area that are hard to open or close? Is the molding at the miter joints pulled apart? Are there any cracks in he wall? Is the flooring level? The answer to all the questions was no. I told her it is probably just a settlement crack.

She said, I wish I spoke to you sooner. I asked her why.

She had a home inspection and they told her to speak to a structural engineer. She wanted to make sure the house didn't have an issue so she hired one for about $700 or $800 dollars. He wrote up a nice report and at the end of the report, probably to protect themselves from liability, he wrote a statement that said "it depends on how the soils are underneath there if the house is going to settle anymore or not."

This is essentially true, but the house has been there for over 20 years and there have not been any more signs of settling. To protect himself even more he suggested that she talk to a geologist who does boring samples of the soil. After spending $6,000 on a geologist, the geologist report essentially said "it seems to be OK, but we can't say 100% for sure."

When I told her how much it would be under $700 to get the crack repaired she said, "Boy, I wish I had talked to you first. You said exactly what they said and I would have saved almost $7,000".

About two days later I got another structural engineer report from a customer who bought a house, and it said essentially the same thing. I can't say they are ripping people off, they've been hired to do a job. But, as a homeowner, you have options to look at it in a sensible way.

For a second opinion on foundation cracks, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Damage from the Winter Storms

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 07, 2018

Foundation needing repair at 25 Perkins Ave. in Hampton Beach New Hampshire. There are two main areas and then touch up needed on the side of the foundation.


Can Irrigation Systems Cause Water in the Basement?

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 04, 2018

It's warm outside and people are watering their lawns on a regular basis. Can a rigorous watering cycle cause water in the basement? Well, sometimes it doesn't even have to be rigorous. We have already gotten a couple of calls, one from Dedham and one from Shrewsbury, where people are turning on their irrigation systems, it hadn't rained, and people are calling and saying they have water coming in the basement.

There are pre-existing conditions. One was a crack in the poured concrete foundation and water was coming in through that. The other was a leak around the sewer pipe, between the sewer pipe and the concrete, and water was coming in through that. One home had the sprinkler going up against the crack anc the other there was a line that was broken in the soil and the water was coming in around the sewer pipe.

So to answer the question, these sprinkler systems can help you to identify where water is coming in through a basement. One of the first things I asked people who have water coming in the basement when it is dry out is if they have a sprinkler system.

To fix the problem, if it is a crack in the foundation we can do all the work from the inside. Or, a leak in the sewer pipe, we'll drill into the foundation at angles and put ports into the small holes we drill and fill it with closed polymer resin. Or, we will put another material in the crack and then a weave carbon fiber blanket on top of that. Then we can give them a written warrantly against water coming in the basement.

If you need more information on basement waterproofing, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

How do I Fix Damp or Wet Corners in my Basement?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, May 24, 2018

Spring is here after a very long winter, but while the flowers are blooming and birds are chirping there can still be hidden water problems in your basement. Especially in the spring and summer when there hasn't been any rain. We get calls from homeowners who tell us that the corners of their basement are damp or there are little puddles of water. They want us to fix the problem.

There are two things that could be going on. One is condensation because concrete never dries. Condensation is when a cold surface, the concrete, hits a warmer surface that has moisture in it, the air. This makes condensation. Why a corner? Because you have the left, right, and floor of the corners that are all made of concrete. So, these areas tend to get condensation.

Or, is there water coming through? We know outside a lot of times in the corners of a home there are downspouts and they could be letting water in. So, you run a hose outside on the ground for about 45 minutes turn it off for 15, do it a couple times. If no water comes in, it's condensation.

Homeowners can eliminate or reduce condensation in the basement by installing a dehumidifier that will take the moist air out for less condensation. But, some people make the mistake, on a nice spring day, of opening up a window to get some air in the basement. Well, they are getting nice fresh air in, but they are also getting more condensation. Don't open your basement windows.

Clothes dryers also let out a gallon and a half of moisture into the air when they are drying clothes. So, it is important to be sure your dryer is properly vented to the outside.

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

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