Foundation Crack Repair, Basement Waterproofing Blog

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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.

Damp Basement Diagnosis

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Damp Basement - The source of your damp basement problem could be a water leak or high humidity. Both can lead to mold, mildew, or other biological growth. Depending on the severity, conditions can lead to rot, structural damage, premature paint failure, and a variety of health problems. Water can seep into your house from the outside through a leak in the foundation, or small gaps around windows or doors. Water can also come from inside your house from a leaking water pipe, toilet, shower or bathtub. High indoor humidity caused by normal activities of everyday living, such as showering, cooking, and drying clothes, can also be a source of your problem. A damp basement is commonly caused by moisture migrating through a concrete foundation. There may not be a sign of any leak or standing water, but the moisture evaporates, increasing indoor humidity. Another common cause is condensation on the cold concrete walls and floors during humid months.

Get Rid of Wet Basement of Bacteria

Joseph Coupal - Friday, April 16, 2010

A wet basement can create various problems around your home over time. Besides odors the dampness in a wet basement can damage the structure of your home, and present a health risk to your family. Mold and bacteria thrive in a wet basement and cause these other problems. In fact, if you notice musty odors coming from your basement, you can be sure mold and bacteria are present. Use the following  to get rid of bacteria in your wet basement.

Equipment You will Need

  • Soap or cleaning solution of your choice
  • Bleach
  • Bucket
  • Hot water
  • Sponge or rag
  • Latex gloves
  • Protective face mask
  • Water pump (optional item, to be used if there is a great deal of water in your basement)

Determine the Source of Your Leak - You may not actually see the mold, especially if it grows under carpeting or insulation. Even so, you will need to quickly determine the source of the dampness. Water in your basement can come from many sources, such as leaking irrigation or sprinkler pipes,  or flooding due to heavy rain or snow. It can also come from plumbing fixtures located on the floor above your basement, or from cracks in your foundation.

Remove Accumulated Water - As soon as you determine the source of the water leak or flooding, remove it as quickly as possible. Attending to your wet basement quickly will limit the opportunity for mold and bacteria to grow.  If only a small amount of water has accumulated, you can wipe it up with a sponge or rag dipped in hot, soapy water. If you need to remove a large amount of water, you will need to use a water pump. If the flooding has caused the leak, you will want to take particular precaution in being exposed to the water, as it could carry contamination from garbage or sewage. When cleaning up flood water, be sure to use protective equipment, including latex gloves and a face mask.

Disinfect the Area - After removing the initial water that has entered your basement, scrub the entire area with soap and water. Then wash down the area with a commercial disinfectant or with bleach diluted with water. Again, make sure you use protective equipment. Dispose of any damp carpeting, wood or other material that you cannot dry out and thoroughly clean.

Drying Out a Wet Basement

Joseph Coupal - Sunday, April 11, 2010

When you are faced with a wet basement it can be a particularly heartbreaking sight especially if things are ruined.  The first thing you need to do is dry out the basement and this could be a big task.

How Deep is the Water?
Before you can dry out the basement properly, you will need to get rid of all the water. Where there’s deep standing water, you’ll need a pump to get it out of the house. Rent one from a local rental store or buy one. If there are just puddles of water, a wet-dry vac should be sufficient to take care of the problem. When there’s just a tiny amount of water, a mop and squeegee will be adequate. When the basement is damp but there’s no standing water, open the basement window and use a fan.

Removing Damaged Items
The water will most likely have caused damage to items in the basement even if it’s not immediately apparent. If the basement is carpeted, remove all the carpeting and underlay then throw it away. it is highly unlikely that it can be salvaged.  If there’s a wooden floor with an underlay, take it all up. Take the wood out to the garage to dry and throw away the underlay, since you won’t be able to re-use it. If there’s drywall or paneling in the basement, remove that too. It’s a magnet for mold and mildew. Where there’s been contact with water, you’ll need to replace entire panels and not just sections. Go all the way to the studs. Don’t try to save any of it as this could lead to a moldy, mildewed basement later on.  Take out all the furniture and clothing until the basement is empty. Clothes and covers should be washed then dried.

Drying out the Basement
Even with the water gone, the basement will still be damp. You’ll need to run a dehumidifier for several days to ensure it becomes completely dry. Until the basement is thoroughly dry, don’t attempt to make any repairs or replace items.
If you have a wood floor with no underlay in the basement, inspect for any signs of buckling and replace any planks that need it.

Inspecting the Basement
When the basement has been completely dry for a week, inspect it carefully for any signs of mold and mildew, especially on the wall studs or other porous material. If you see any, replace the item. This is the only way to keep the mold from the basement.

Finding the Source of the Leak
The leak that caused your wet basement could come from any number of sources, such as a burst pipe or a leaking washing machine. However, it could be a crack in the foundation or high water table. It’s important to find the cause of the leak and fix it before you repair the basement. If you’re not sure of the reason, employ a professional to determine the root cause.

Five Common Causes of Basement Flooding

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Basement flooding is an difficult problem that many households face on a regular basis. Rather than dealing with it, however, many people hope the problem goes away on its own. Such an attitude can have grave consequences for your home in the long run. When your basement gets flooded, it is best to deal with the problem right away. To do this you will need at least some basic knowledge of the reasons why basements fill with water.

1. Unsuitable Locations for Your Home

One of the most typical causes of basement flooding is that the house has been constructed on an unsuitable site. Usually, houses are built on terrains that slope down away from them, allowing for any accumulated water to drain away. However, if your home has been built on the low part of your estate, chances are it will get flooded frequently, for waters flow from high to low areas. If this is the case, you may be happy to learn that land slopes are conspicuous targets for the elements, and in the course of time they tend to get leveled by erosion, a circumstance that will probably fix your problem.

2. Poor Floor and Wall Sealing

Another quite common reason for flooding is the poor floor and wall sealing. If the basement tiles have not been sealed properly during the construction of your house, water will easily seep through them, especially in the event of extreme weather conditions. If your basement often fills with water after heavy storms and downpours, you may want to check its sealing and, if necessary, take measures to fix it.

3. Blocked Gutter System

Yet another cause of flooding is the blocked gutter system. When the manifold connecting your house to the public sewer system gets plugged, it may cause floods on your premises. If such is the case, call the respective local authorities and the sooner, the better, for water levels may rapidly increase with disastrous results for the foundations of your home.
4. Improper Installation of the Drainage System

Similarly, a drainage system, which has been installed incorrectly or malfunctions, may lead to leakages in your basement. For example, if the downspouts of your house have been placed too close to the basement wall (i.e. within 6 feet), or if they drain towards, rather than away from it, they may overload the weeping tile and cause leakages in your basement. Ideally, the downspouts will drain towards the street or the backyard, and not towards your basement walls (or those of your neighbor).

5. Debris in the Eavestroughs

Also, eavestroughs filled with debris may overflow with rainwater right beside your basement and cause leakages in it. The solution is simple: all you have to do is climb on your roof and clean them. If, however, the eavestroughs of your house overflow even when they are cleaned, you should replace them with larger ones that fit the local climate better.

And finally, a word to the wise: if your house is equipped with a sump pit drainage system, it is advisable that you remove, thoroughly clean and test the sump pump at least once a year.

Why Basements Leak

Joseph Coupal - Saturday, March 27, 2010

Basement Leaks - MA, RI, CT, NH

Most basements leak because there is or are either vertical-step or horizontal cracks on the outside of basement walls through which water enters and gets onto your floor. Water/moisture will also enter the wall through and around where gas lines, electric lines, and plumbing enter the wall below ground. The only way you will completely keep all water from getting into the wall is to have these openings correctly sealed and backfilled on the outside of your foundation (basement wall). If you only have 1 crack then that is all you need to fix on the outside. You only need to waterproof about 5 linear feet on the outside.  You most likely do not need the entire wall done or all the way around the house done as some companies will try hard to sell you. Basements leak because there are"direct openings" into the house on the outside of the house and you have to go to the outside to seal them, not inside unless you use the A-1 Foundation Crack Repair method. An inside water diverting method (jackhammer,drain tile) ONLY diverts water that has already entered the wall to under the floor. It doesn't stop water from entering walls. Therefore it cannot stop or prevent mold/efflorescence from growing on your wall or behind your paneling/drywall. The A-1 inside/outside method done correctly will!

Dehumidifiers Reduce Basement Moisture

Joseph Coupal - Sunday, March 14, 2010

Basement dehumidifiers reduce the amount of moisture in the air of the lowest level of your home. This necessary for a number of reasons. Among the advantages of using a dehumidifier in the basement are improved quality of air, reduced moisture, fewer insects, lower energy bills and convenience. Each of these reasons deserves an explanation all its own. There are many types of basement dehumidifiers, though. They come in different sizes and serve different functions depending on how you need them to work in your home. First, though, the benefits are worth knowing.

Benefits of Basement Dehumidifiers

Installing a basement dehumidifier is not difficult. Considering that they are portable and they simply have to be plugged in and set to work. They also come in various sizes for all types of dehumidifying. Convenience, then, is the first benefit. By working to remove the moisture in a basement, they not only keep mold at bay, but they work to protect the inner integrity of the home. If moisture is allowed to build up over time, it can damage drywall, structural wood, carpets and paint. Moisture reduction is the second reason to install a dehumidifier in the basement. Also, by reducing moisture, insects do not have as much of an opportunity to thrive in a dehumidified basement.

The reduction of moisture also diminishes the need to run the air conditioner as much during the summertime. This leads directly to increased energy savings. Lastly, an overall reduction in moisture can improve the air quality in a basement and other levels of the home. So you see, by reducing moisture, many other related benefits arise.

Mold Proof Your Basement before Remodeling

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, March 09, 2010

If you remodel your basement into the type of dream room that you have always wanted then you will most likely be proud of your achievement ... if it's done right. But before you congratulate yourself, you need to make sure that your new space is mold-proof. It is a common mistake to finish basements that are not mold-proof which can end up turning the dream into a nightmare. In many instances finished basements actually make mold more likely to occur because it creates the conditions that this fungus loves.

Mold just requires a few basic conditions and it is good to go. For mold to prosper it needs some dead organic material and some moisture. These are things which can be commonly found in most basements. Remodeling your basement can add to the problem because all that wood paneling and floor boards you are adding are giving it more to grow on. If you install a poorly ventilated shower in your basement you may as well prepare for mold because that is what you are going to get. You may not even notice that you have mold because if moisture is coming from the outside behind your wood paneling or underneath your new floor boards then this mold can be growing where you can't even see it. Mold that you can't see is the worst type of mold because it could lead to all sorts of damage to your health and finances.

So what are you to do? Now that you know how the problem arises you can take steps to prevent it from happening. Prior to commencing any finished basements project you will need to first check to see if you have dampness anywhere. If you find moisture and you are not certain about whether it is coming from inside or outside the house there is a little test you can perform. Put some plastic sheeting on the wall where you feel the dampness and leave for a day or two. If the water is on the outside of the plastic then you know you have condensation problems while if it is inside then you have water from the outside. Whatever the cause, you will need to remedy the situation before beginning any work on finishing your basement.

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