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Buying or Selling a Home with a Wet Basement

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Most basements, because they are built into the ground, present the possibility of invasive water, making what was once a dry basement into a wet basement. This is because water in the soil can put constant pressure on basement walls. Also, water follows the path of least resistance and over time can find its way into a basement.

With real estate transactions there are more problems with wet foundations and basements than any other physical problem in a house. Therefore, it's important when buying a house with a basement to check for signs of dampness in the basement. Also, if you want to sell a house, you need to get your basement water problems fixed the right way. As the buyer, the seller may be unaware of the water problems, or they may choose to not disclose the issue.

Signs of a Damp or Wet Basement

  • Water stains along walls or floor. This could be caused by something simple such as an overflowing laundry tub or it could be a result of water seeping in through basement windows, the walls or the floor.
  • Musty odor or damp smell. Excess moisture in a basement can cause an unmistakable smell.
  • Mold. It could be colored black, brown, yellow or green, and you won't know for certain if it's mold without testing it. Often the northwest corner of a house is known as a "cold corner" and susceptible to developing mold.
  • Efflorescence. This condition produces a white or sometimes grayish ash on the walls. Sometimes it sparkles. Efflorescence is caused by salt deposits left behind by evaporating water.
  • Spalling. When water gets inside the surface of concrete, brick or stone, salt deposits from the water cause the surface to flake away, peel or pop off.
Original article by By Elizabeth Weintraub

How Home Dehumidifiers Work

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 13, 2011

The purpose of a dehumidifier is to lower the humidity of the air in your home.  Humidity is a measure of the moisture suspended in the air at any given time.  Moisture levels are higher during different seasons.  In Massachusetts, humidity levels are much higher in the summer than in the winter. 

Home dehumidifiers are mostly used to dry air in the basement or crawlspace.  These areas are prone to high humidity levels because they are below ground.  It is not uncommon for the saturated ground outside of foundation walls to cause seeping or leakage through the walls.

The condensation is what allows a home dehumidifier to work. The dehumidifier typically consists of a metal or plastic cabinet that contains a fan, a compressor, metal coils and a collection pan.  There is also a humidistat that allows you to set the level of humidity you desire within a room.

The fan draws air into the unit, and it passes over the coils.  The coils are often set up as a two-stage process.  In the first stage, the coils are very cold.  As the air passes over the cold coils it condenses and collects there.  From here the water drips into the collection pan.  As the air continues on through the unit, it hits the second stage of coils which uses the heat generated by the compressor to re-heat the air and deliver it back in to the room.  

In the meantime, the collection pan fills with water.  The shut off is triggered when the water reaches a certain level.  Sometimes, rather than a collection pan, home dehumidifiers have a fitting that can attach to a hose so that the water can run out of the unit to a drain of your choice.

Understanding the basics of how a home dehumidifier works is important so that you can determine which type of unit to buy for your home.  A high quality, low maintenance unit is the best choice for most homes.  Compare home dehumidifiers carefully before investing in them, this is an important piece of equipment.

Most Common Source of Basement Water is Through the Floor/Wall Joint

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 06, 2011

In order to know how to waterproof a basement, you need to know how water enters the basement. There are many different ways water can enter the basement:  floor / wall joint, floor or wall crack, or through the bulkhead, to name a few.

Here we are going to talk about how water enters through the floor/wall joint.

The floor/wall joint is the most common entry source of water entering the basement. This is where the foundation wall meets the floor. The water comes in from the outside over the footing under the foundation wall and through where the foundation wall and floor converge. This is seen mostly when it rains. Water may seep in from other locations, but the most heavy water intrusion will be from the floor/wall joint.

When one concrete structure is poured (the floor) and another concrete structure is poured on it or next to it (the wall), a seam is created between the two concrete structures. Each concrete structure (the footing, the wall and the floor) is poured separately. There is a seam between each of these three structures. This allows the potential for water to come into the basement. There are four potential points of entry now: over the foundation footing, between the foundation walls, underneath the foundation and up through the seams between the foundation footing and the floor. This floor/wall joint seepage is very common and is a predominant reason for basement flooding.

Removing Mold From Your Home

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 30, 2011

If you find that there is mold growing in your home from a wet or damp basement, you need to act fast in order to remove it. However, if you have a mold problem that covers more than a 10-foot by 10-foot area, consider calling a professional.

When dealing with mold removal, be careful, once mold is disturbed it will release mold spores that can cause additional growth, or those spores can lead to health problems.

The first phase of work will be to completely remove drywall and carpet and all other “non permanent” affected items.  Also remove any furnishings that are carrying mold.  It is rare that these items can be saved once they have mold.

Once that is completed, it is time to clean the mold.  Use a cleaning product that is designed specifically for mold removal.  This will ensure that the spores have been killed, and the entire mold organism has been removed.  You must be very thorough, especially in wall and ceiling cavities. 

Remember that mold spores are often invisible.  So, even though the visible mold has been removed from surfaces, the spores could remain in the air for quite some time. It is very important to isolate the area where you have mold from the rest of the house because mold spores are designed to travel in the air until they can find a place to settle which is good for growth.  Mold spores need warmth, moisture, and a food source.  The food source can include wood, drywall, paper, fabrics and other typical household items. 

The next step is to eliminate the moisture and the food source.  The mold cleaning detergent needs to eliminate the food source from the washed surfaces but you also need to lower the humidity levels in the area.  The temperature in the space should be higher than normal because this will promote faster drying.  Be sure to close any windows or doors to the outside as well, so that humidity from the outdoors cannot come in.

The basement or other affected area should have good airflow for several days, so use fans; but most importantly, be sure to have a dehumidifier in this space.  It should be a reliable, powerful unit that will remove moisture from the air into either into a reservoir or a hose running to a drain or sump pump.  With a moisture meter you can regularly check surfaces and materials for moisture content.  Once you are able to get walls and floors to 12% moisture content or less, mold growth can no longer be sustained.

Methods of Basement Waterproofing

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 23, 2011

If basement water problems can be solved, you can gain some valuable storage or living space.  There are two ways to go about approaching water issues. The first is to address the leak from the outside of the foundation and the second is to deal with the problem from the inside. From both directions, there are waterproofing techniques designed to seal water out, and others that are designed to divert water from the foundation.

Waterproofing techniques and supplies that are generally used by do-it-yourselfers to seal water out of the basement include spray on sealants, membranes, and injection expanding epoxy waterproofing supplies designed to fill and seal cracks in solid concrete foundation walls. These are some of the least reliable methods of keeping water out because over time, they all succumb deteriorate.

There are also waterproofing supplies and techniques for diverting water on the exterior of the home. Dirt fill can be used along foundation to make the ground slope away from the house. This allows for water to runoff away from the home.

Regardless of the method you choose, exterior repair work is messy and expensive. The installation of anything on the exterior of the foundation will require excavation to expose the wall.

On the interior, the A-1 method of sealing out water from concrete floor cracks is with the gravity fed system. A polymer is used to create a bond between the concrete cracks and fills the entire void through to the bottom. The A-1 preferred method for foundation wall pipe penetration leaks is to inject the gap around the pipe with high-viscosity polyurethane. This polymer can be used on both wet and dry materials, and it can work its way into small hairline cracks to make a more powerful bond.

A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. was founded after more and more house builders requested the A-1 Method to solve problems that otherwise would have been cost prohibitive or simply too invasive. In fact, the A-1 Method not only repairs your existing cracks, but also helps prevent future ones!

Thoughts On the Ongoing National Flood Disaster and Insurance Readiness

Joseph Coupal - Sunday, May 15, 2011

For weeks now, our hearts have poured out to the thousands of our fellow Americans who have (and will) fall victim to the worst flooding in our country’s history.  As we continue to address home foundation leaks and cracks throughout New England, we are warmed by the compassion expressed by those we serve while they themselves suffer the effects of foundation cracks and water damage.

A recurring conversation that we have with our customers involves genuine thankfulness for strategically addressing their homeowner’s insurance policies.  Is your home fully covered against flood and water damage by both accident (wall pipe penetration leak and failure) or and Act of God (storm floods)?  Has you lot been re-designated as residing within a flood plain? 

The ongoing floods in America move all of us at A1 Foundation Crack Repair to consider the plight of our fellow Americans, to help where we can, as well as to serve as a reminder to all of us to verify that we are fully protected should the same ever happen to us. 

Mold Thrives in Damp or Wet Basements

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 09, 2011

Mold problems might occur with home basement dampness or flooding. Mold is a living organism that thrives in wet or damp environments. Usually, the food source for mold is cellulose such as the paper on drywall, wood products or paint on concrete. It can even appear on the surface of metal in the right conditions.
 
Therefore a home and its contents are a food source for mold. Many people believe that molds can be cleaned with household bleach. When you clean mold with bleach you will see the mold disappear. But the underlying root system of them mold is unaffected by the bleach, and the molds will reappear within a few days.

You can't clean mold; it must be removed from your home. In the case of mold-infested drywall, paneling and acoustical ceiling tiles, the damaged areas should be cut out and discarded. You do not often see mold on older homes with plastered walls, but it will appear on the paint on the plaster. When this happens, the paint should be scraped off to remove the root system before repainting.

Mold usually does not appear on fabrics, but they can carry mold that can be transferred to cellulose and wood products in your house. So, wet or damp carpeting should be removed to allow the wood-floor surface to dry. Vinyl floor coverings also must be removed if you notice dark spots forming under the finished surface of the vinyl.

If you have a large mold problem in your home, it should be professionally mitigated and the humidity in your home should be controlled with a dehumidifier. Cracks in the basement concrete floor and/or foundation that allow in water need to be repaired. Continuous water damage or moisture in your home exacerbates the mold problem and may lead to issues with the structural integrity of your home or foundation.  The most important control for mold in any home is humidity control. Keep the area dry, because without moisture, though molds may be present, it cannot thrive.

Leaking Bulkheads Need Waterproofing

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 02, 2011

You need a dry basement for a healthy living environment. There are many ways that water can enter your basement. One of the most frustrating is a bulkhead leak. Most bulkhead leaks are a result of movement between the bulkhead and the foundation. Usually, bulkheads are separate units which are bolted to the foundation wall. During installation a black rubber seal is put between the foundation wall and the bulkhead unit.  This rubber seal is designed to stop water. This seal can fail when there is movement of the bulkhead, the foundation or both.
 
Due to the design of bulkheads, movement occurs during the winter months as the ground freezes and expands, and then in the spring as the ground thaws. This compromises the seal. In order for A-1 Foundation Crack Repair to inject between the bulkhead and foundation the closed cell polymer resin that has elasticity needs to adhere to the concrete in order to be most effective. Because bulkheads are susceptible to movement we do a return visit to perform another injection at no charge. No matter what style bulkhead you have; precast concrete unit, cinderblock bulkhead, fieldstone bulkhead or poured concrete walls with wooden stairs we have the expertise to solve your problem with water leakage.

A-1 Foundation Crack Repair has effective and long lasting solutions for basement waterproofing problems. Contact us for a free estimate.

In a Flood Zone When Water Floods Your Home

Joseph Coupal - Monday, April 25, 2011

Sometimes, no matter what, when you live in a flood zone,  your house will flood in heavy rain. I have a friend who lives on a street called Water Row Lane, and last year their neighborhood had to collectively rent the Boston Duck Boats for 2 weeks to transport them from their homes to their cars in a nearby parking lot.

Water, might be good for flowers, plants, and trees, but it’s not so good for houses.

Live in a flood zone?

If you live in an area that has a high flood risk, elevate the furnace, water heater, electric panel, washer and dryer in your home at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.

You should have check valves installed in your home to prevent flood water from backing up your drains.

Have a sump pump installed,  and if you have a sump pump, make sure it’s working and install a battery-operated backup, in case the power goes out.

Clean debris from your gutters and downspouts.

After a flood

Check outside for loose power lines, gas leaks, foundation cracks or other damage. Make sure your porch roofs and overhangs still have their supports. Check your home’s and your out building’s foundations for settling, cracking or undermining. If you see damage, get a building inspector or contractor to check the home before you go inside.

Turn off all electrical switches, even if the power is out.

While the electricity is off, hose down the house to remove any health hazards left by floodwater and mud.

If your furnace or water heater floods, have a technician check them before turning them on.

If your basement is flooded, pump the water out in stages.

Dry out appliances such as washers and dryers before using them. They might need several days to dry.
 
Mold

Mold can produce allergens, and, in some cases, potentially toxic substances that can make you sick, so you need to ensure your home is as mold-free as possible.

Water damage should be taken care of within 48 hours after the incident or mold growth (or worse, bacteria and viruses) will occur.

The best way to prevent mold is to remove wet contents from your home immediately.

Wet items should be cleaned with a pine-oil cleanser and bleach, completely dried, and monitored for several days for any fungal growth and odors.

Dry out damaged rooms by opening windows and using high-pressure fans. If your carpets are damaged, you should strongly consider installing new ones.

Keep the indoor humidity low, ideally from 30 percent to 50 percent. Make sure places of high humidity, such as bathrooms, are well-ventilated. Use a dehumidifier whenever necessary.

Even if you remove the mold, if the water problem (i.e. a leaky pipe or cracked foundation) is not fixed, the mold will come back.
 
Hiring a Contractor

Do the research. Ask friends and neighbors and read reviews. Make sure the contractor can do the type of work needed, foundation and basement crack repair . And check the contractor’s current references.

Check withe the Better Business Bureau, A1 Foundation Crack Repair has an A+ Rating.

Contractors can’t collect more than one-third of payment up-front unless the job requires materials that must be specially ordered. They also cannot demand any payment before the contract is signed.

Damp Basements can Cause Larger Problems

Joseph Coupal - Monday, April 18, 2011

A leaky basement can be a nightmare. Regular dampness can cause mold growth and musty smells, stored items can be ruined, and the foundation of your home can even be damaged by regular water.  If you have moisture, drips, seepage, or other water related issues in your basement, you need to get it sealed and dried out fast, before bigger problems develop.

The first step to eliminating the moisture problems in your basement is to identify the source of the water. Once you have located where the water is entering the building, you can resolve the problem.

Drainage Problems

Exterior drainage issues can be a major source of water in your basement; if water is brought away from your foundation, it can work its way inside. If you notice water flowing toward your house on rainy days, have blocked or malfunctioning gutters, or can see any signs of erosion, you likely have drainage problems. Some drainage problems are easy to fix: clean and repair your gutters if they aren't working. Pay special attention to downspouts, and be sure that they are directing water away from your house. Other drainage issues can be more difficult to fix. If it isn’t the gutters, you'll want to consult a professional basement waterproofing company. They will be able to identify problematic water patterns.
 
Basement Leaks

Water can also work its way into your basement through cracks or crevices in your foundation. This type of problem usually manifests itself as a visible break or fracture, a trickle of water, or a damp spot. Basement leaks can also be caused by porous foundations. There doesn't necessarily have to be a crack for water to be seeping in. You have a number of options for waterproofing your basement and A1 Foundation Crack Repair, waterproofing specialists, can provide professional basement sealing results.

Make sure you address water problems in your basement promptly; instead of assuming that they will go away on their own, foundation water problems frequently snowball into moisture and mold crises. Take the time to identify and resolve the source of the moisture-you won't regret it.


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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.