Foundation Crack Repair, Basement Waterproofing Blog

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What is the Purpose of a Sump Pump?

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Before we get into the purpose of a sump pump first we should talk about why you need one. We see a lot of basements where a sump pump should be installed. When you have cracks in the basement floor and water is coming up, or if you have water coming in from all around from all four sides you might consider putting a sump pump in. Or, if your ground is all clay, there may be a reason to put one in as well.

The purpose of the sump pump is to take water from underneath your cement floor, from below. That way as the water rises it doesn't reach the bottom of your cement floor.

Essentially with a sump pump you have a basin at the bottom of your floor that water drains into. The sump pump is designed to suck that water out and put it someplace else. The water wants to take the path of least resistance, and that least resistance is in the hole that we have dug in your foundation from which the water is then pumped out.

To install one, you need to break the concrete by jack hammering or cutting it. What is very interesting is that what we find when we cut the concrete is that there is no soil directly underneath. There is usually 3 or 4 inches of air space. This is because the soil or gravel compacts down and creates this gap which is a place where water can flow to with least resistance.

Once the floor is cut we have to dig down, often 2 or 3 feet. This depends on the type of soil or what the water lines show us. Then we put a basin in and that basin has holes so the water can get into it. We put landscape paper around the basin and maybe some gravel so that when the water comes to it and brings along soil the holes in the basin don't just clog. We then put the sump pump in. I prefer a submersible sump pump rather than one that stands up out of the basin because those can fall over and become inoperable.

Then, there needs to be PVC pipe coming out with a check-valve, which is a valve that does not allow water to flow back into the basin. That pipe is plumbed outside. We recommend PVC because it won't break with the freeze/thaw cycle like black flexible pipe will. A cover is then installed for safety reasons. Often people choose a sealed cover so that radon or moisture can't get into the home.

More often than not, this is not a DIY task because it involves jack hammering, plumbing and knowledge of the water levels. For more information on basement waterproofing, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Water Leak in Leicester MA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Here's a video of the water leak in 169a Chapel Street Leicester MA. You can see the floor behind it. For quality basement waterproofing, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Why Does My Basement Look Like a Murder Scene?

Joseph Coupal - Friday, May 11, 2018

It almost looked like a murder scene. They took pictures, and they were so great I posted them. The homeowners were telling me they had water coming in from little dimples in the foundation walls; I knew they were the tie rods. They sent me pictures and the leaking water looked almost red, like blood. But, it was really the tie-rods that were leaking.

Tie-rods are metal rods that go right through the foundation. Water gets to the metal and they rust; in this case the leaking water was red! We were able to stop the water leaking in through the tie-rods by injecting them with a polymer resin using an electric pump. Now those tie rods are all sealed up.

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

How does Frozen Soil Affect Foundations?

Joseph Coupal - Friday, May 04, 2018

With all this wacky weather we've had this year in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, the soil has done a lot of freezing and thawing that doesn't bode too well for concrete. But it doesn't just affect concrete, but block and stone walls as well.

You have to remember that most soils retains water to begin with, they're moist. But then we have the rain, snow, melt, and freeze. Then the rain, snow, melt and freeze again. We all know water freezes, and when it freezes it expands.

Well, concrete and block are very strong when you push down on them. But, when you push in on them, they're not quite as strong. In residential construction there is no requirement to put re-bar in it. So, when you have this freeze thaw cycle happening and it pushes against the foundation you are going to get cracks.

These foundation cracks are caused by the freeze thaw, but it is also caused by the pipes running through the foundation walls. If the pipes are not located below the 4' freeze line, and we have a deeper freeze than that, those pipes are going to push up on the concrete. This can cause cracks too.

We see a lot of do-it-yourself situations where people try to fix foundation cracks with Flex Seal that they see on TV or with hydraulic cement. With the weather, concrete expands and contracts itself and hydraulic cement does not. So we get calls from homeowners who have tried to fix the cracks but it just doesn't work.

This cycle is a natural thing that happens, but there are some preventative steps you can take. Make sure the gutters are clean and the downspouts run away from the house. Make sure the landscaping is pitched away from the house. If you have a crack, the water gets in there and freezes and expands the crack, or the soil pushes against the crack and expands it and you are going to have water come in.

What we do is we either inject the with a closed polymer resin by drilling at angles to the crack every six to eight inches, putting ports in, and then injecting the resin. Or we may look at it and use another method where we put another material into the crack and then a weave carbon fiber blanket on top of that. Then the customer gets a transferable warranty on that.

For any questions about basement waterproofing, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Reflections of the Crackman - Why He Loves this Business

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 26, 2018

I used to be a school teacher, and how I got into basement crack repair wasn't a straight line for me. As a kid I always loved having a business going, may it be lawn mowing jobs. I got too many jobs and had kids mowing lawns for me. That was when I was about 11.

I started buying apartment buildings and started doing flips before the word even came into play. We bought a house that had a fire and we knocked the house down but kept the foundation. The people wanted a finished basement, but the basement foundation had cracks in it. So, I talked to chemists, suppliers, and engineers and I fixed it. I had breakfast with a friend of mine who builds houses and he said, he had a bunch of homes that had cracks in the foundations and he asked if I could fix them. I said yes.

It dawned on me: there are a lot of homes with cracks in the foundations that no one is really addressing. So that is how I started. Then I started marketing it and it blossomed to MA, NH, CT and RI.

I love this business. What I think I love about this business is that I can see this business grow. I enjoy making the relationships with my customers, with other businesses that refer business to me. I enjoy solving a problem and getting it fixed. Problems that are annoying to people and that can also be a health issue. Not only that, I have seen my employees flourish with me in their personal lives and financial lives. It strikes me as unusual to see people who have a passion about this business like I have, fixing foundation cracks. Now I have second generation people working for me, which brings me a whole other avenue of enjoyment.

I have nurtured relationships in other industries. I start out marketing to realtors and other industries that deal with houses like pest control companies. We get referred to them by their customers. We always find out how people have heard of us, we do a survey about "how did we do" and we get back to those people. Then they have more faith in referring business to us.

We have done seminars to educate realtors and structural engineers so they can have an expert on their team who can deal with these problems. Everything is about service today. one thing that makes us different is that we answer the phone so you get to talk to a live person.

I also like to give back to the community. We do a lot with Habitat with Humanity. I'm asked to go into high schools and talk to kids who are taking business management courses or entrepreneurial course and we talk about success, what is success. I talk about my story. One thing I see is that a lot of these young adults have no idea that they can open their eyes, see an opportunity and take action to have a career out of solving somebody else's problems. There is also a huge need for people going into the trades. With supply and demand, labor rates going up, if someone wants to start a business in the trades they can be the next blue collar millionaire. I've had lots of kids shadow me and I have a great time doing that.

Landlords, Will Your Lally Columns Pass Section 8 Inspection?

Joseph Coupal - Friday, April 20, 2018

I recently got a call from a landlord who had his yearly inspection for his section 8 tenants. For the first time in all these years the inspector picked on the temporary lally columns. This is a Boston Section 8 apartment and they had to change them.

First of all, what a lally column looks like is a piece of metal that is hollow and it usually has a screw jack on top. Being hollow, it is not as strong. If there is a fire, it can bend on you. The inspectors want solid lally columns. They are metal and filled with concrete, with a thick metal plate on top. They also don't want it just sitting on a 2" or 3" inch cement floor. We have to actually break the floor, dig down, pour a footing, come back and cut the lally column to the right size. We did that, the inspector was happy, and the landlord can continue his section 8 rentals.

Landlords beware, take care of your temporary lally columns. If you need more information, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Is a Sump Pump Necessary in this Home in Franklin, MA

Joseph Coupal - Friday, April 13, 2018

We went out to do a repair on a poured foundation crack that was leaking. We did our injection because it was a wet crack that was leaking, we stopped the water.

About 3 weeks later we got a call from the homeowner. She was so happy that the crack had stopped leaking, but she was getting water on the floor of her basement. I stopped in, she showed me where it was.

There was a crack in the floor, but no water was there. I was looking around, and all of a sudden some water showed up in the middle of the floor. I felt the water, it was warm.

I asked her if anyone upstairs was doing anything with water. Her husband was washing dishes. So, we put some food coloring in some water and sent it down the drain. It was not that the water table was coming up and would require a sump pump. It was that there was a crack in the sewer line under her floor.

So, she called a plumber who opened the floor or ran a line above the floor and ran a line to the sewer in the street.

I was happy to help her solve her problem.

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

5 Prep Steps to Prevent Basement Water During a Nor-Easter

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, April 11, 2018

New England got pounded by Nor 'Esters this past March. The first thing homeowners should do to be prepared is to go outside and check on their gutters and downspouts and be sure they are in good working order. Downspouts help water run away from the foundation, they may need to add extenders to them. Next is to be sure your sump pump is working correctly. A sump pump that does not work is no good at all.

If you know you have a bulkhead that is leaking, at least put a tarp over it to prevent at least some of the leaking. Get some towels ready if you have cracks in the walls and start a towel brigade. Or, get some of that spray insulation and spray it on the floor around the crack. That foam will create a moat and hold the wate that you can remove with a wet vac.

Also, always take note on where the water is coming in from so you can then talk to a professional.

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

The Crackman Saves RI Homeowner from a Costly Perimeter Drain

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, April 04, 2018

I had an interesting call from a homeowner who is also a contractor. He called to find out if I put perimeter drains in. He was pretty instent that he need one, so I asked him why he thought he needed perimeter drains.

He said he had water coming in between where the concrete wall and the foundation floor meet. I asked if it was in one area and he said yes. I asked if he had a sump pump installed near that area, and he also said yes.

He said that the sump pump was only about 3 yards away from the area. I asked him to describe the area, or pit, that the sump pump is in. The pump sits in a hole with cement walls and a soil floor.

I made a better suggestion. Instead of a perimeter drain at the expense of $6000 or $12,000, I suggested he drill some homes in the cement walls of the sump pump pit and let me know what happens. In no time he called me back to let me know that fingers of water were draining into the sump pump pit instead of into his basement. He didn't need perimeter drains. If you have basement waterproofing issues, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

The Crackman offers Great Advice to Desperate Homeowner

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, March 15, 2018

Today we present a customer review. The review reads:

"I had concerns about my bulkhead. I called Rich, sent him some pictures and within minutes he knew what the issue was, what had to be done to fix my problem, and who to call because it had nothing related to concrete or foundation. Rich is honest, professional and understanding. A rare find these days."

One of things I enjoy doing is if I don't do the work I try to put the customer on the right path to do it. This customer had just had poured a concrete patio within an inch of his bulkhead door, the metal door. The concrete was pitched towards it. With all the rain we had, the water was flying in over the bulkhead door. I put him in the direction of removing the metal door and raising the concrete that it is sitting on about 8" so that next time, the water won't get in.

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A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.