Foundation Crack Repair, Basement Waterproofing Blog

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Basement Cleaning Tips

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 28, 2010

One of the rooms that most easily gathers clutter in your home is your basement or cellar. By its very nature, it's where you stick stuff that you rarely need.

Basements are usually not as well maintained as other rooms of your home. They can often be VERY humid and go through wild temperature swings. This can cause huge damage to whatever is stored down there. If you're going to store things there, make the effort to help those items survive the storage.

Get yourself a humidity checker - they're pretty cheap in any home or hardware store. Many thermometers you find will also detect humidity. Your aim is for about 50% humidity. That makes sure that the area is dry enough that mold does not form - but moist enough that items do not dry out and crack. Try to keep the temperature within a normal human-comfort range for the same reasons.

Don't let your items sit right on the floor of the cellar. Cellars are notorious for having bugs, mice, spiders, etc. You give your possessions a fighting chance by keeping them 4" or more up off the floor. Plastic shelving units are great because they never rot or rust, and let you organize your gear.

Do a sweep at least once a year and determine what you actually use and need in your cellar. We all have hobbies that we love for a period of time, and then move on. If you loved ice skating when you were 10 - but are now 30 and have never ice skated since - accept that as a change in your life. Donate the used items to charity, or sell them on eBay. Take pictures of the item if you wish to treasure their memories, but give the actual items away. They can do far more good for some happy child somewhere by being in use. If you really, really decide at some point in the future to get back into ice skating, it would be far safer for you to buy a fresh set of skates.

At First Sight Of Foundation Crack-Check Your Homeowners Policy

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 24, 2010

There are many things you can ignore and procrastinate.   A crack in your foundation is NOT one of them.  The very first thing you should do (without delay) when you witness a foundation crack, is to check your Homeowners policy.  If your policy covers this damage, then it's a "no-brain'r" to get the ball rolling as soon as possible on scheduling repair.  If your policy does not cover this damage, then there are potential other outs such as petitioning the Builder's insurance if the house is relatively young.

Regardless the cost of repair is likely to go up exponentially over time.  Whether insured or not, we'll help you develop a course of action that limits the damage to both your property and your wallet.

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.


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