Foundation Crack Repair, Basement Waterproofing Blog

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Finding Basement Mold

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 21, 2010

If your basement is damp or occasionally floods, chances are you have basement mold growing in it. Basement mold can damage your home and become a health issue for you and your family.

To determine if you have basement mold growing in your basement there are a few things you can do. First, simply smell the basement. If it smells moldy, then you more than likely have basement mold growing. It is then just a matter of finding out where it is and getting rid of it. However, finding basement mold is not always so easy.

Conventional building material is ideal for growing basement mold. Basement mold grows easily on wood and paper products, e.g. framing, faced insulation, and drywall.  To find out where the basement mold is growing, pay close attention to the ground level. Check the lower portion of the walls, particularly walls with drywall on them. Basement mold typically grows in dark, cool, moist places, so check behind paneling and drywall, and in basement closets. Also, lift carpets and look under them. Carpet is a great breeding ground for growing basement mold. If you have a dropped ceiling, lift some the ceiling tiles and check for mold growing on the backside of them.     

Pay close attention to ceiling tiles that are directly under plumbing pipes. Also check around plumbing pipes and air conditioning duct work.

The best way to prevent basement mold is to make sure the basement stays dry and that there is sufficient airflow in it. If your basement is frequently damp or wet, then you will most likely need to address the problem from the outside and inside. Check that rain water drains away from the home, and contact  A-1 Foundation Crack Repair for an analysis.

When is it time to replace your sump pump

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 17, 2010

How do you know when it's time to replace your sump pump? Some signs that your sump pump can't be repaired include: noisy units, it stops working completely and electrical problems.

Noisy Units - If your sump pump is making a load noise the entire time it's running, either the impeller is bent or the motor is going out. Turn your unit over and remove the screen, using your screwdriver. Inspect the impeller. If it is bent, you have no choice but to replace the unit.

Stops working Completely - If your sump pump doesn't turn on, first check to make sure the unit is plugged in and getting power. Make sure the breaker hasn't tripped in the main panel box. Use the electrical tester.

Manually operate the float to see if you can get the sump pump to work. Check the float switch with your electrical tester to make sure it's showing current. If the float check out OK, your motor is probably burned out. Replace the unit.

Is your bulkhead leaking

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 10, 2010

Do you have a leaky bulkhead?

Every time you go to use the bulkhead exit from your basement do you notice the floor around the stairs is always wet, especially after it rains? Sometimes you notice water on the ground outside the bulkhead could this be it? Or maybe the problem is water is leaking through at the floor wall joint. How can this be fixed correctly and what if is there more than one cause for your problem? A-1 Foundation Crack Repair is here to help and has fixed countless bulkhead issues over the years. if the problem is simply a leak , we can seal it with our A1 repair process. However, if the problem turns out to be bigger, like water pooling up around your bulkhead and then leaking into your basement, we can diagnose and ad address this for you as well.

Sump Pumps need to be checked regularly

Joseph Coupal - Saturday, June 05, 2010

If you have already lived through the dreaded experience of a flooded basement, then you know how much damage it can cause. Even one inch of water can take many hours to clean up and causes thousands of dollars in damaged furniture and carpets. Installing a sump pump in your basement is your best defense to prevent flooding.

Basement flooding is most often caused by water build up in the soil that makes its way into your basement. There are many ways for water to enter and many ways to prevent it from entering. A sump pump on the other hand is a last defense against flooding because it pumps out water from the lowest section of the basement before the water level reaches the basement floor level. As groundwater level rises it is diverted into the sump hole. When the water reaches what is called ‘the critical level’, the sump pump begins to pump it out through a pipe that leads outside and away from your foundation.

Apart from the obvious damages to your belongings, flooding can also cause plumbing problems, a damaged foundation or rotted wood, all which can bring down the value of your home. A sump pump can save you thousands of dollars in the long run by maintaining the value of your home and by protecting your belongings from water damage.

The sump pump has become more important especially in newer homes since the Federal Clean Water Act no longer allows builders in many municipalities to drain rainwater collected by gutters into sewerage systems. Water collected on the roof of your home and drained by your gutters can cause flooding if it is not carried carried far enough away from your foundation.

It is important to check your sump pump regularly to make sure that it is in proper working condition.

  • Remove the cover and slowly pour water into the sump tank.
  • Watch for the "float" to rise and trigger the pump.
  • Once the pump is engaged, the water level will quickly lower and the float will shut off the pump.

This is what is called "a normal sump cycle". Most problems with the sump pump are float related. If the pump does not start, the float may be hanging on something in the tank. A simple repositioning of the pump should solve the problem.

If this fails, the float may need replacement.  If the pump fails to shut off when the water level drops to the bottom of the sump tank, this indicates a new float is needed.

Basement Dehumidifiers

Joseph Coupal - Friday, May 21, 2010

Basement Dehumidifiers are critical for ensuring that moisture doesn't seep into the basement area—even if you have insulated your basement with weatherproofing/waterproofing synthetic applications. Moisture seepage is the most prominent cause of basement maintenance issues like mold, surface peeling or invasive dampness that seeps inside the house. An effective dehumidifier guarantees dryness in the basement, helping to prevent proliferation of dust mites and mildew. Further, most contemporary dehumidifiers are sold with air filters that help in keeping the internal, circulated air free of allergy-causing pathogens.

A dehumidifier also helps to increase the life cycle of your basement waterproofing coatings by ensuring that minimal amount of moisture seeps through the coated surfaces.

Reducing Indoor Humidity

Joseph Coupal - Saturday, May 15, 2010
  • If your basement has a dirt floor, cover the floor completely with plastic to slow down water vapor coming through the soil.
  • Use ventilation fans in kitchens and baths to control moisture. Check to make sure ventilation fans venting directly outside. In some cases the vent fan may have been installed to vent into the attic or become disconnected or blocked.
  • Your clothes dryer should be vented directly to the outside. Inspect the vent duct. Make sure it is attached securely to the dryer. Check that it is clear of obstructions (e.g. lint). Check for holes that leak air. If vent duct is damaged replace it with a metal duct. The vent duct should be cleaned at least once a year.
  • Ask a heating and cooling contractor to check your heating and cooling system to make sure it is sized and operating properly to remove humidity. If you system is too big or the airflow incorrect your air conditioner will not remove humidity like it should. Also, ask the contractor to check your duct system for air leaks, and proper size and air flow to each room. To help you find a contractor, please refer to our recommendations.
  • Sealing air leaks and sealing duct air leaks can help to prevent high humidity levels in your home.
  • During hot humid months, using a dehumidifier in the basement can reduce condensation on the walls. This may work better after you've sealed air and duct leaks to reduce the amount of humid outdoor air you are bringing into the basement.

Why basement waterproofing is a good idea

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why basement waterproofing is a good idea

Do you have problems with a damp or leaking basement? You’re not alone. There are millions New England homeowners with the same problem. But, rather than ignore the problem and suffer the consequences, you can fix the problem, and here are three reasons why you should.

  1. Even if you don’t use your basement for anything other than storage, moisture will lead to mold and mildew. Toxic mold can create health problems and allergic reactions. Mold can also be circulated throughout your house via your HVAC system.
  2. Everyone, at some point or another, is looking for more living space within their home. Water and moisture makes space unlivable. If you fix the water problems in your basement, you are then able to finish the space making an extra room or rooms, or at the very least, the space becomes more available for storing “stuff” from around the house, making your other rooms more spacious.
  3. Which brings us to reason three. Storing items in a moist or wet basement will cause those items to be soiled, warped or smelly. Virtually anything exposed to moisture while in storage will be ruined. Fixing water or moisture in you basement is certainly a good investment.

Cleaning and Killing Mold

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 03, 2010

Cleaning and Killing Mold

Killing mold that is already visible is actually quite easy. A simple borax solution is enough to do it. Borax is a common cleaning material, but unlike bleach, it is capable of killing mold on porous surfaces. Additionally, borax does not give off harmful fumes, unlike bleach or many other cleaning agents. However, borax is toxic, so keep your children and pets away from it.

  • Mix 1 cup of borax with 1 gallon of water.
  • Apply some of your mixture to your rag, sponge or paper towel, and wipe the effected area. A few wipes should be enough to do the trick.

In serious cases, you may need to give up on cleaning altogether and simply remove the moldy materials and replace them with new ones. Obviously, you do not want to have to do this repeatedly, so be sure to immediately put the next step into action.  Mold needs humidity to grow. Because your mold is now gone and you are trying to prevent it from coming back, the best thing you can do is keep your basement free of humidity. Installing a dehumidifier should do thetrick in most cases.

Prevent Water Damage in Your Basement

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Be thorough and inspect your basement regularly by checking the following where applicable:

HVAC Systems - Check the drain pans and remove debris to allow free flow. Inspect the filters and replace whenever needed. When inspecting the HVAC, look at the duct work and seal deteriorating insulation.

Pipes Condensations - Pipes condensation is a common plumbing problem caused by sweating pipes. This problem promotes mold corrosion and rot if ignored. Insulating your pipes will reduce condensation.

Sump Pumps - Sump pump systems assist in keeping unwanted water out of your home. When checking the pump, make sure the outlet pipe is not frozen or clogged and that it directs water away from your home. Clean the air hole in the discharge line and make sure that the motor is running well. Test the pump by filling the sump pit with water to make sure the pump is working properly. Check that the pump is actually pumping out water.

Walls and Ceiling - Check the walls and look for moisture signs. Moist walls may indicate an internal leak. Look at the walls and search for stains. If you detect stains, follow them to locate the source of the problem and fix it. Even the smallest sign for a leak in the basement must be treated promptly.

Foundation - Foundations are not always waterproof. Gaps and cracks are created as the house shifts and settles over time. Landscape is also changing over time and may lead to excessive water in the soil around your home. Seek professional help if you need to make any landscape or foundations repairs.

Ventilation - When checking the ventilation systems, be sure to inspect all ventilation systems including water heater, exhaust fans, dryer vents etc. if you suspect any failure in these systems, repair it right away.

Prevent Basement Flooding

Joseph Coupal - Sunday, April 25, 2010

Preventing basement flooding is much easier than having to deal with a flooded basement. It’s generally easy to ensure that your home, basement and foundation are protected from flooding. Here are a few steps you should take to help protect your basement. There are a number of issues that can cause basement flooding including inclement weather, hot water tank leakage, freezer leakage, sewage pipe leakage, or washing machine leakage.

Basically, basements flood because they are underground or of old or low-grade construction. To flood-proof your basement, there are a couple of precautions you should consider. The most applicable way to prevent flooding is to ensure that your home is up to code. Have your home inspected by a licensed inspector or plumber, especially if you feel that there may be problems that have been overlooked.  If they do not find anything, or if you already know what causes leaking in your basement, there are number of solutions to consider:

  • Standpipes - Can be inserted into a drain to divert the flow through the particular drain that may be having problems
  • Sewer check valves - Regulate the flow of water from your house; especially useful if you have determined this will address the source of your basement flooding.
  • Drain plugs - Less expensive but also less reliable, they pop open at a certain pressure point to let the water through and hold it in the rest of the time.
  • Sealing walls and floor - Should be part of your local building codes
  • Installing an overhead sewer

Storm Drainage - Surprisingly, an often overlooked problem area is the storm drainage system. Your drain spouts may be connected to your plumbing. Devise a test or wait for a storm to see if this is the root of your flooding issue.  A licensed plumber or inspector will be able to identify any potential problem areas even if flooding has never occurred in your home. If it has occurred, then you can then trace the flooding to its source. Knowing the source, you can devise a succinct plan for flooding prevention.

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