Foundation Crack Repair, Basement Waterproofing Blog

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Why Does My Concrete Look So Rough and Pitted? Boston, MA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, November 13, 2018

We take good care of concrete. Concrete can start to look rough and pitted, we see this in New England all the time. This happens because water penetrates the concrete because concrete is porous. When the water penetrates, and then the concrete freezes, it can pop some of the concrete a little bit. That's when you see that rough spalling going on. We also use salts or materials that melt the ice, and the water penetrates the concrete and freezes again. We see this quite often. Spalling is concrete that absorbs some of the moisture, freezes, and then it basically pops, breaks, and chips off.

To fix it, we have to get any concrete off that is loose or not solid. We clean it out and then put in what we call a "milk," which is an adhesive. Then we put some specialty masonry material back on it. I then recommend spraying it with a crystallized quartz based material that goes into the pores of the concrete. We don't only spay it on the space we repaired, but also on the steps or on the side of the foundation, or in the garage on the sides. This does not let the water penetrate.

We can fix this concrete that does not look so great and get it back in great condition. If you have basement water proofing issues, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Is Your Sump Pump Ready for Winter?

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Winter is right around the corner and that often means that your sump pumps will get a workout. We have a quick four step process that people can do at home to ensure their sump pump is ready for action.

The first step is to make sure it is plugged in. Then, raise the float in the sump pump and make sure it turns on.

The second step is to check and make sure that the discharge line outside is not cracked, broken, or clogged.

The third step in the process is to make sure that it flows, that water actually goes out. This may mean that you have to put a garden hose in the sump pump, make sure the float rises, and make sure it is working properly.

The fourth and final step. Make sure there are no leaks in the discharge line. You want to get all the water out of the basement, you don't want the water in the basement.

If you perform this four-step check and have a problem with your sump pump, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Do I Need to Repair Exterior Foundation Walls that are Damaged, Pitted, or Spalled?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, October 18, 2018

We got a call because a customer was concerned about the exterior surface of their foundation wall, it showed signs of excessive pitting and spalling. Why does this happen anyway? Is it just poor concrete or is it something else?

It could be poor concrete. It could be how it was mixed, when it was poured, or when they pulled the forms. Concrete is supposed to be vibrated to get the air out, and sometimes they don't do that or maybe the home got the end of the batch. What normally causes this though, is the water sitting on the concrete and then freezing. It then breaks the concrete a little bit and then it gets these spall or pock marks. More water then sits on it and freezes again, and this can further damage the concrete. You do want to take care of it so that it does not deteriorate the foundation anymore.

So, the questions are: "Should your repair it, and when do you know it is time to repair it?"

It's a preventative maintenance issue. The sooner your repair it the better off you are and the less damage you will have. To answer the second question, to repair it we have to wire brush it and see how much we take off. Then we have to put additional adhesive material on it, called Milk. Then, we put a special masonry material over that which makes it smooth and the rain can't penetrate it. A crystallized quartz based material is then put over that and you're all set.

For more information on basement water proofing or foundation crack repairs, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Do I Need to Worry About Replacing a Rusted Lally Column?

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, October 10, 2018

How do you know it is time to worry about replacing a lally column that shows signs of corrosion. These pictures are from a home in Lexington, MA. They came from a homeowner who had just bought the home and they had the home inspection. The home inspector said the lally columns need to be replaced because of all the rust. The facts are, according to structural engineers, if a lally column is rusted it loses about 1/3 of its strength. As you can see in these pictures, this lally column has probably lost more strength than that because it is rusted so terribly. This needs to be replaced.

A1 Foundation Crack Repair - Replacing Rusted Lally Column, Boston, MA

Now, you don't just put a lally column in; you have to make sure there is a footing. A footing is a nice piece of concrete that we pour by breaking the floor, digging down, pouring the concrete and then we come back and cut the lally column to size. The lally columns we use are concrete filled steel with a thick piece of steel top plate that goes against the beam. Then that plate is bolted into the beam.

They rust because in the basement or garage there is humidity. Metal rusts; even though it is coated with a paint it is still going to rust. Oftentimes, the lally column is put into the concrete and not on it. The concrete never fully cures, there is always moisture, so that moisture will wick up and will cause the metal to rust overtime. However, I think the one in the picture has an imperfection because it actually split.

For more information on lally columns, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Dehumidification When it Comes to Concrete?

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, October 03, 2018

We got called to a home in Beverly, MA. A gentleman was considering buying a house and he wanted me to be there while the home inspection was going on because there were a lot of cracks in the foundation floor. It was a very large house.

There were expansion joints in the floor, those are the lines you see in concrete so that it can expand and contract. Everything looked fine, I didn't see any water or anything like that. But, I noticed he had three high end dehumidifiers running down there. I asked the owner how long those had been running. He told me, "all summer." I then asked him when the cracks started to appear. His response: "midway through the summer."

I asked the home inspector if he had a moisture meter with him, some have them. We checked the moisture level of the concrete and it was the driest concrete that I have every seen. With that information, we figured out that he had dried the concrete out too much to cause cracks in the floor.

This was the first time I had seen this in 20 years.

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

How to Play Tic Tac Toe using the Condensation on a Basement Wall

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, September 20, 2018

Check out the video! These people had so much condensation on their basement wall they were using it to play Tic Tac Toe. That much water in the a bad thing. This can lead to mold, mold can lead to problems with your respiratory system, and it can get into your heating ducts. You want to stop condensation at all costs.

We got a call from a customer whose home is about a year old. They were getting mold on the baseboards of their finished basement. We recommended that they open up the wall a little bit at the bottom. That's what you see in the video.

We need to find out if this is condensation or if there is an actual leak in the foundation. It could be a crack in the foundation wall, we are going to open up the wall even more to find out. We'll run water with a garden hose on the outside of the home to see if it is a crack from higher up, if it is a leaking tie-rod, or if it is condensation.

If it is a crack we have an injection process that we use to repair it. We inject the crack so that the material that goes all the way to the outside or another material goes into the crack and a weave carbon fiber blanket goes over that. Similarly, with a tie-rod that may be leaking we can take care of it the same way.

We won't know if it is one of those two things until we run the water and open up the wall. Or, it could be what we call a "honeycomb" in the concrete. That's where they should vibrate the concrete when it is wet so to get the air pockets out of it. If they don't get the air pockets out of the concrete water can ooze out. We need to determine if it one of those issues above, or if it is condensation.

If it is honeycombs, we need to drill into those holes and inject the polymer resin in them. If it is condensation, what we need to do is get a good dehumidifier. I recommend a dehumidifier that can drain the water from the air to the outside. So, dehumidification can solve the problem or we repair whatever it is by injection or with the carbon fiber method.

Many people worry that with a problem like this they will need to rip out the drywall and do a lot of excavation outside the home to solve the problem. We will have to cut out the areas of the sheet rock where there is mold. If you catch it early, this can be minor, if you let the problem linger then you really get issues. There could be mold behind the wall, in the studs, and going into the floor joists above. My advice is to get it taken care of quickly so you don't have problems with the structure and your health.

If you have a basement water problem, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Should I Repair a Crack in a Foundation if it's Not Leaking?

Joseph Coupal - Friday, September 07, 2018

There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and concrete will eventually crack.

If you discover a crack in your basement floor, wall, or foundation and it is not leaking, should you fix it? Well, you know the three certainties in life, but there is another: a foundation crack is going to leak sooner or later, you just don't know when. There is a reason people repair foundation cracks. One, because you get the cold air coming through. That is like having a football sized hole in your foundation. You can imagine how much cold air can come through that. You can also get radon and moist air coming through, creating a problem with mold. There is also organic material in the soil that is breaking down and creating odors which can come in from foundation cracks.

Besides that, wood boring insects can come in and, if the hole is big enough, snakes can get in from cracks in a foundation too.

Another big issue is when people are selling their home with a foundation crack. The average person thinks that means the home is going to fall down, when in fact it's not. But, you have to work with the mind of the buyer and you also want a bigger pool of buyers. If you have a foundation crack that has a warranty, it makes the potential buyer a lot more comfortable.

Additionally, if an appraiser comes in they are usually after the home inspection. If the home inspector comes in, sees the crack, and tells the buyer about the crack, they may interpret it as a big deal. They may want thousands of dollar off the price of the home, when it is only hundreds to fix.

If the appraiser sees it, and it is an FHA or VA loan, and the crack is put on the report, they will want a structural engineer to come in. We know most cracks are not structural. It saves a lot of hassle and aggravation for all parties if a foundation crack is repaired prior to listing the property.

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

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.

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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.