Foundation Crack Repair, Basement Waterproofing Blog

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How Repointing Stone Foundations Solves Rat and Water Problems - Boston, MA

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, January 25, 2018

I recently did a repointing job in Quincy. I was referred to them by a pest control company who will take care of the rats once they are inside. But, they do not stop the rats or mice from coming in through the foundation. Especially with stone foundations where there is mortar between the stones. Rats can gnaw on this and make larger holes.

We went into Quincy, where they have such a problem, there are actually grants to help homeowners take care of the problem, even in the nicer areas.

We went in and took out the mortar that was loose or non-existent and put new mortar back in between the stones to stop the rats. With our trucks out there, we had other people in the neighborhood come over and ask us for work, so needless to say we have worked with quite a few pest control companies.

I also learned that rats can reproduce very quickly. Just two rats can have up to 12,050 pups a year. Not only are we repairing stone foundations and repointing them for water infiltration, we are also helping to stop rat and mouse infiltration into a house. This stops the diseases they carry and the damage they can cause.

For more information on solving rodent problems or basement waterpoofing, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Another Flexseal Failure

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Here is another flexseal failure from Arlington, MA.

    "The first picture which shows the side view you can see the gap where the precast stairs meet the foundation wall. The gap runs the whole width of the stairs. That's where the water is percolating up from due to our high water table.

    When they cut the door opening there is a 6 inch height of the foundation wall still there. The interior door (taken off for now) sits on the basement floor so when you open it, you step up to the foundation step before stepping up to the first precast stair.

    I have french drains on the interior of the basement (put in long before I moved in). I think we discussed that the grate drain would sit between the gap between the precast stair and foundation "step" which would then tie into the interior french drain.

    We want to make sure that the water doesn't percolate up in fed into the interior french drain.

    We'd also want to seal around the lag bolts holding the stairs to the foundation.

    The end result is we want to make sure water never enters the basement through the gap or walls so we can finish our basement."

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For wall crack repairs and leaky seam repair, Contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

What is the Difference Between Concrete and Mortar?

Joseph Coupal - Monday, January 22, 2018

There are actually quite a few differences between mortar and concrete. When you think of cement, you think of those big trucks that keep turning the body. Now if you think of cement as a binder, similar to a recipe with flour, the cement is the flour. The purpose of cement is to hold other materials together. But, you can't use cement alone, you have to use other materials mixed into the cement, such as limestone, calcium, silica, iron, aluminum, among other ingredients. This mixture is heated in a real large kiln to 2700 degrees. This produces clinkers, a solid material like solid pieces of stone. This is then ground down and mixed with more materials such as gypsum to create the gray concrete substance. That gray substance is then added to water to make foundations and sidewalks and other things that need strength.

Mortar is used to hold building materials together, such as bricks and stone. Think of mortar as glue. Mortar is made out of water, sand, and some of the cement material we talked about above. You mix it with water to get to the strength you want and it is then used to hold building materials together. There is an age to mortar. If you go into some old houses with stone foundations, you'll see powdering of the mortar. That's just a function of age. We can take that old mortar out and put new mortar in to maintain the structural integrity. To sum it up, mortar is the glue that holds materials together.

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

Why do I have a Foundation Crack After 20 Years?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sometimes, when you have a home for 20 years and have never gotten a crack in the foundation you can get lulled into a false sense of security in thinking you will never have a problem. However, this is not always the case and it seems to happen to people as they are getting ready to sell their house.

Some of the reasons why foundations crack after such a long period of time can be something as simple as a heavy piece of equipment going down the road causing vibrations in the soil.

Since we are in the midst of winter, we should talk about the soil which can contain water. The soil absorbs the water, when it freezes it can push up against the foundation and which can cause it to crack.

We are also concerned about drainage. If you are in clay soil, or a downspout that has broken off, the pressures of the soil can cause a crack in the foundation.

Also, age simple age. Just like you and me, concrete can get old and not be as strong as it was before. But the good news is that these foundation cracks can be repaired and can be repaired from the inside with a warranty.

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

Top Reasons to Repoint your Stone Foundation

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Most people don't really look at the details of the foundation. Why would the homeowners be concerned about how it looks?

Oftentimes when homeowners are selling their house, which is the number one reason, we know a home inspector is going to check the foundation. If they see crumbling concrete or mortar in between the stones or powder on the floor, they know that the mortar needs to be repointed in the basement.

The first reason to repoint a stone foundation is to get the most for their house and to sell it in the least amount of time.

The second reason is structural. A stone foundation is made like a triangle in most cases. If you threw stones in a triangle, the tall angle of the triangle is what you are looking for from the inside. You want to make sure that is intact.

The third reason, especially in New England where we get some heavy rains, is to stop water from coming in the basement.

The fourth reason would be because each little hole you have allows cold air to come in. People notice a big difference one a basement is repointed, that it gets much warmer upstairs.

The last reason is to stop the holes so that animals, rodents or snakes can't get in.

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

How do I fix my Leaking Bulkhead? - Boston, MA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Last week we discussed what a bulkhead is and ways they can leak. This week we can talk about how you go about fixing leaking bulkheads.

First you want to go outside and see if the downspouts from your gutters dump the water right where the bulkhead is. If it does, you want to put an extender on it to be sure it runs away from the bulkhead area.

Second, you want to see if the soil comes right up to or near where the metal bulkhead meets the foundation. If it does, it is a grading issue. You need to make sure that soil is farther down so the water and snow buildup doesn't cause leaks in the bulkhead.

Now we can talk about the interior and what can be done. If it is leaking where we talked about last week, where the bulkhead structure and stairs meet the foundation and it is leaking at that joint on either side or on the floor, then we can do an injection process.

We drill small holes and put our ports in, and then we connect our electric pump to each port and inject a closed-cell polymer resin. The objective is to fill the void and also to encapsulate it on the outside.

There is also another method we can use. This is where we take a grate and we break the floor, think of a little gutter with a grate on top. That gutter has a pipe that is connected to a sump pump. The water would then go from the bulkhead area, into the grate, into the pipe, and then get pumped out.

For more information on basement waterproofing or bulkhead waterproofing, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

My Bulkhead is Leaking. What should I do?

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Here in MA, RI, CT and NH, most houses have basements. A bulkhead is usually metal, you can open this door that is on an angle from the outside and then go down some stairs into the basement.

When a bulkhead is leaking you'll often see a puddle at the bottom of the stairs in the basement. The puddle is just where the water gathers, that doesn't mean that is where it is leaking. You want to try to see where it comes from. Take a look at the stairs, if they are concrete you may be able to see water lines. It could be coming from the metal doors themselves, or where the metal door is attached to the concrete. If you can see any of that, you may want to go into the basement and have someone spray the metal door with the garden hose. You'll see if it is coming in through there.

Another spot where water can come in is if it is a pre-cast bulkhead, meaning the stairs are made somewhere else and bolted onto the foundations.

Put the hose where the stairs and foudation meet. Let the water run for about 45 minutes, turn it off for 15, and do that a few times. You'll see water come in where the bulkhead set of stairs are bolted to the house.

So, to recap you'll see water come in through the doors, where the door is attached to the foundation or at the seams where hte pre-cast stairs meet the house.

If you run your water you are going to see exactly where the leak is coming from.

For more information on bulkhead repair and basement waterproofing, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

What is that Rusty Thing Sticking out of my Foundation Wall?

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Homeowners are complaining about the rusty things sticking out of their foundation walls. People can get hurt by them and they can let water in.

A1 Foundation Crack Repair - Tie Rods These "rusty things" are called tie rods or snap-ties. They are used during the construction phase. Builders take two pieces of wood and use the rods to separate them, they then pour the concrete between the wood. Once the concrete is dried, they remove the wood and are also supposed to snap the ties off on the outside and on the inside of the foundation. They should be removed from the outside because they are a good source for letting water into the basement. Some contractors don't. We are getting calls because these tie rods have not been snapped off. We go in and cut them off, but they often leak. Often they are leaking before we snap them off. They leak because they are made of metal, metal rusts, and when they rust they get smaller, when they get smaller water can come in.

We work from the inside. We drill next to the tie-rod, put our ports in, and then inject the ports with closed polymer resin which stops the water and cold air from coming in. For those that are not leaking, we snap them off and put in a certain caulking as preventative maintenance. This stops the potential for both water and cold air from coming in.

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

How Much Water is in Concrete?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, November 02, 2017

It's common knowledge that concrete begins with water and a dry cement substance that are mixed together, poured into a mold that then becomes very hard. But that is probably the end of most people's knowledge on the subject.

But there is also aggregate and other chemicals that are put into it. Cement has a lot of weight. Think of a square yard. That square yard of concrete weighs 3,700 pounds coming down the chute of the cement truck. If that yard is poured and then dried, it then weighs 3,500 pounds. And that's just for a yard. Think of how many yards a basement floor and walls has. Now the difference in one yard of wet and then dried concrete is 200lbs. The concrete is missing 200lbs which equals about 38 gallons of water. They are supposed to vibrate the concrete in most cases to get the air pockets out, but you are always going to have some minor air pockets. When the water evaporates, you'll have air pockets.

You need to know what you are doing with the concrete or you will get yourself in trouble. You need to choose a contractor that is aware of the nuances of concrete if it dries too quickly or in the cold you'll have foundation problems.

For more information, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Home Inspection Saves Home Seller from Lally Column Disaster

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, October 26, 2017

I was called to take a look at some lally columns at a beautiful house in South Yarmouth that had been in the family for many many years, a second generation home. It was right on the water, it has a swimming pool and next to the swimming pool is a private beach on the ocean.

The seller had a pre-inspection done by a home inspector that I know. The homeowner said that "some of the floors seem a little soft, like if you jump they move a little bit." The inspector went downstairs, it was a crawl space. He discovered a whole history of lally column there. There were temporary ones, those have a screw jack on them and they were rusted. In fact, if I kicked them, they would fall right off. There were some which were on footings that were steel filled with concrete, but they were sitting on sand. There were some that did have footings but they were rusted on the bottom because of all the humidity in the basement. This was the big problem. We had to go in there and address the lally column replacement. Not only that, but there were a lot of cracks which were letting the humid sea air in.

This was all caused by moisture. It was a good thing that these folks had a pre-inspection. The solution: We installed new lally columns, we fixed the cracks, and next we are putting in a real good, high-end dehumidifier in to take the moisture away.

For more information, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

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