Foundation Crack Repair, Basement Waterproofing Blog

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Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Dehumidification When it Comes to Concrete?

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, October 03, 2018

We got called to a home in Beverly, MA. A gentleman was considering buying a house and he wanted me to be there while the home inspection was going on because there were a lot of cracks in the foundation floor. It was a very large house.

There were expansion joints in the floor, those are the lines you see in concrete so that it can expand and contract. Everything looked fine, I didn't see any water or anything like that. But, I noticed he had three high end dehumidifiers running down there. I asked the owner how long those had been running. He told me, "all summer." I then asked him when the cracks started to appear. His response: "midway through the summer."

I asked the home inspector if he had a moisture meter with him, some have them. We checked the moisture level of the concrete and it was the driest concrete that I have every seen. With that information, we figured out that he had dried the concrete out too much to cause cracks in the floor.

This was the first time I had seen this in 20 years.

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

How to Play Tic Tac Toe using the Condensation on a Basement Wall

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, September 20, 2018

Check out the video! These people had so much condensation on their basement wall they were using it to play Tic Tac Toe. That much water in the a bad thing. This can lead to mold, mold can lead to problems with your respiratory system, and it can get into your heating ducts. You want to stop condensation at all costs.

We got a call from a customer whose home is about a year old. They were getting mold on the baseboards of their finished basement. We recommended that they open up the wall a little bit at the bottom. That's what you see in the video.

We need to find out if this is condensation or if there is an actual leak in the foundation. It could be a crack in the foundation wall, we are going to open up the wall even more to find out. We'll run water with a garden hose on the outside of the home to see if it is a crack from higher up, if it is a leaking tie-rod, or if it is condensation.

If it is a crack we have an injection process that we use to repair it. We inject the crack so that the material that goes all the way to the outside or another material goes into the crack and a weave carbon fiber blanket goes over that. Similarly, with a tie-rod that may be leaking we can take care of it the same way.

We won't know if it is one of those two things until we run the water and open up the wall. Or, it could be what we call a "honeycomb" in the concrete. That's where they should vibrate the concrete when it is wet so to get the air pockets out of it. If they don't get the air pockets out of the concrete water can ooze out. We need to determine if it one of those issues above, or if it is condensation.

If it is honeycombs, we need to drill into those holes and inject the polymer resin in them. If it is condensation, what we need to do is get a good dehumidifier. I recommend a dehumidifier that can drain the water from the air to the outside. So, dehumidification can solve the problem or we repair whatever it is by injection or with the carbon fiber method.

Many people worry that with a problem like this they will need to rip out the drywall and do a lot of excavation outside the home to solve the problem. We will have to cut out the areas of the sheet rock where there is mold. If you catch it early, this can be minor, if you let the problem linger then you really get issues. There could be mold behind the wall, in the studs, and going into the floor joists above. My advice is to get it taken care of quickly so you don't have problems with the structure and your health.

If you have a basement water problem, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Should I Repair a Crack in a Foundation if it's Not Leaking?

Joseph Coupal - Friday, September 07, 2018

There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and concrete will eventually crack.

If you discover a crack in your basement floor, wall, or foundation and it is not leaking, should you fix it? Well, you know the three certainties in life, but there is another: a foundation crack is going to leak sooner or later, you just don't know when. There is a reason people repair foundation cracks. One, because you get the cold air coming through. That is like having a football sized hole in your foundation. You can imagine how much cold air can come through that. You can also get radon and moist air coming through, creating a problem with mold. There is also organic material in the soil that is breaking down and creating odors which can come in from foundation cracks.

Besides that, wood boring insects can come in and, if the hole is big enough, snakes can get in from cracks in a foundation too.

Another big issue is when people are selling their home with a foundation crack. The average person thinks that means the home is going to fall down, when in fact it's not. But, you have to work with the mind of the buyer and you also want a bigger pool of buyers. If you have a foundation crack that has a warranty, it makes the potential buyer a lot more comfortable.

Additionally, if an appraiser comes in they are usually after the home inspection. If the home inspector comes in, sees the crack, and tells the buyer about the crack, they may interpret it as a big deal. They may want thousands of dollar off the price of the home, when it is only hundreds to fix.

If the appraiser sees it, and it is an FHA or VA loan, and the crack is put on the report, they will want a structural engineer to come in. We know most cracks are not structural. It saves a lot of hassle and aggravation for all parties if a foundation crack is repaired prior to listing the property.

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

What Should I do About Wetness at Bottom of a New Sheetrock Wall in my Basement?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, August 30, 2018

Imagine the disdain of a homeowner who just had new sheet rock done, and suddenly saw wetness at the bottom of the wall.

We got a call from a builder who had recently finished the basement walls; he had studded them, put in the insulation, and the walls had been plastered. Keep in mind that plaster starts as a powder; one part powder to two or three parts water. The homeowners went away for a week, a week during which we hadn't gotten any rain. They came home and their plastered, sheet rock was all wet towards the bottom.

They were blaming the builder, thinking that he had punched a hole in the floor by anchoring the wood and that water was now coming up and causing this. The builder wanted to take care of the customer, so he called us.

I knew what it was. All that water that was in the plaster while the house was all closed up with no dehumidifier, showed up at the bottom of their sheet rocked wall. Once they put in fans and a dehumidifier in there the problem cleared up. There was nothing that the builder did wrong.

The dehumidifier and fans solved the problem. We didn't have to do any repair at all, we just offered our advice.

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

How To Fix Leaking Basement Walls

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, August 02, 2018
A1 Foundation Crack Repair - MA, RI, CT, NH

There are few things worse for a homeowner than finding water in the basement, especially when it’s not entirely clear where it’s coming from. Fortunately, water seeping through your basement walls isn’t always a cause for alarm.

There are a number of potential causes for basement leaks, some of which have easy and relatively inexpensive solutions.

Use these steps below to locate your leak and determine the best fix for your “weeping” walls.

How to Locate the Source of Your Basement Leak

As soon as you notice wet spots on your basement floor or wall, investigate the area around it to see if there are any obvious sources.

“Signs of a basement water problem include small streams of water, damp walls, and puddling on the floor. The most common way that water enters a basement is through the foundation wall-floor joint,” says Mallory Finch, marketing coordinator at Baker’s Waterproofing & Foundation Repair.

The wall-floor joint, also known as a cove joint, is one of the most common culprits of basement leaks due to the gap between the wall and floor. As the amount of groundwater builds up, such as during a heavy rainstorm, more pressure is placed on the joint, allowing water to seep in.

Apart from wall-floor joints, here are a few other common sources of basement leaks:

  • The tops of your walls: Water can seep over the top of your basement walls when the ground surrounding your home is level or sloped towards your home.
  • Wall cracks: Cracks in the wall are one of the most serious causes of basement leaks and often become apparent when it rains. These are fairly noticeable in unfinished basements, but in unfinished basements you’ll have to inspect the outside of the foundation for cracks that run through the wall.

“If it’s a finished basement, we look outside and we look at those areas above grade.
If there’s a crack in the wall, then that crack goes all the way down. In that case, we open up the wall and repair it.”

Richard Comeras | Founder, A-1 Foundation Crack Repair

  • Floor cracks: As with wall cracks, cracks in your basement floor can also be a sign of a serious problem. Cracks smaller than an 1/8 of an inch wide are normal, but anything wider should be sealed.
  • Tie rod holes: More common in older homes, these holes appear in poured concrete foundations where tie rods were used to hold wood planks together. Luckily, plugging these holes is a quick and easy repair.
  • Window wells: The wells outside your basement windows may let water in when there’s insufficient drainage around your property or when your gutters aren’t working properly.
  • Honeycombs: Poorly mixed concrete can sometimes create air pockets within basement walls, resulting in “honeycomb” marks along the wall. These bubbly patches are usually a minor problem and can be sealed up.
  • Leaking pipes: Drain pipes are another possible culprit for basement leaks. Check your ceiling and walls for stains or mold.

Is the water rising? Learn what to do when your basement floods.

How to Fix Minor Basement Wall Leaks

Stopping a basement leak can be as simple task, as long as you know that the problem isn’t more serious. Here are a few relatively easy DIY solutions you can use to fix a leaky basement from the inside and outside:

  • Replace Window Wells: Replacing old or rusted window wells will give water one less possible point of entry and keep the soil away from your window openings.
  • Clean Gutters & Adjust Spouts: “Clean your gutters and extend downspouts to keep roof water far away from the foundation. You won’t want to rely on this alone to keep your basement dry,” says Finch.
  • Install a Dehumidifier: A dehumidifier won’t stop basement leaks, but it will remove any excess moisture from the air.
  • Regrade Your Soil: Regrading the soil surrounding your foundation will help divert ground and surface water downhill, instead of into your basement. Use this quick how-to guide to determine the slope of your yard, then either call a landscaper or adjust the slope yourself using a skid steer loader and a garden tiller.
  • Plug Tie Rod Holes: If you’re certain your leak is coming from the tie rod holes in your wall, all you need to do is plug them using a compressed swell plug. WikiHow has an in-depth article that explains how to install these yourself.

How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Leaking Basement Wall?

The cost to fix a basement wall varies based on the complexity of the problem.
The most minor repair jobs cost under $1,000, while the most comprehensive
repairs can carry a price tag as high as $10,000.

Call a Professional for More Serious Issues

A1 Foundation Crack Repair - Sump Pumps in MA, RI, CT, NH
Sump pumps are commonly used in basements with chronic leaks.

If your basement wall is leaking due to something more complex, such as a large crack in the foundation, call a professional waterproofing contractor to explore potential solutions.

Pro Tip: Vet Your Contractor Beforehand

“We recommend that you research each contractor that you work with.
Check their online reviews, ask for references, and check out the repair solutions
on their website and how they compare to other waterproofing contractors.”

Mallory Finch | Marketing Coordinator, Baker’s Waterproofing & Foundation Repair

There are a number of fixes that your contractor may recommend, including:

  • Waterproofing Membranes: Your contractor may recommend installing a waterproof coating or membrane on either side of your foundation. According to Finch, this “helps prevent moisture and humidity from passing through. This will also improve the appearance of damp, stained, chalky, or flaky walls.”
  • Exterior French Drain: Exterior French drains redirect surface and groundwater away from a basement. However, these drains are difficult to install with already-built houses as it requires digging up the perimeter of the home and working around utility lines.
  • Interior Drain & Sump Pump: A more permanent solution for chronic leaks is to install interior drains under your basement floor. These drainage systems are often paired with a sump pump that pumps the water out of your basement.

These solutions for basement seepage involve more time and money, but they all offer long-term fixes for weeping walls and other basement leaks. A good contractor will walk you through the project beforehand and answer any questions you have regarding costs and timing.

No matter how frustrating the repair process gets, remember that afterwards you’ll have a nice, dry basement to enjoy.


How Did a Snake Get into my Basement?

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 30, 2018

This is a pretty cool picture of a snake skin sticking out of a house, which means the snake was still inside the house. How does something like that happen?

Well it did freak out the homeowner. This was a woman we had done some work for who lives in a condo in Hudson, MA. She's affectionately known as "the snake woman" now. I went over there and took a look. She has a poured concrete foundation and I looked at any cracks that were there: there were a few that were large enough for a snake. I looked at one in particular and there was the skin of the snake. Naturally she wanted us to take care of it permanently.

By the time I had gotten there, the property manager had already thrown some caulking in and around. This didn't work because we saw the snake skin after he had left. We went over there and filled in the cracks with an epoxy based material which hardens so she can now live snake-free.

But, not only can snakes get into small cracks, these foundation cracks also open your home up to rodents, insects, carpenter ants and more, along with cold air and water.

It's a good idea to plug the holes in your basement. The crackman can stop water and critters. For more information on basement crack repair, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Why A1 Foundation Crack Repair Should be on Every Realtor’s Contact List

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 27, 2018

A lot of work goes into getting a property ready to become the perfect home. No matter the market, every house needs something. Some homes require a little touchup; others may need a lot more work. Top performing realtors have a network of service providers ready to jump on opportunities to get potential listings into SOLD signs. As a realtor, the service partners selected must be trusted and relied upon to make sure the deal closes as quickly as possible. Here are the characteristics that should be considered when building your service company partner network.

Responsiveness and Access

Real Estate can be a 24/7 business, and your service partner network should be as well. Sometimes issues or questions come up that are outside your areas of expertise. In these cases, you would want to speak to a live pro right then and there. Service partners should be expected answer the phone while you are working in the evening and on weekends. Also, the service company should be able to give you a verbal or written proposal for the work within 24 hours of your conversation. Leaving a message and getting a return call after 72 hours with a proposal one week later does not help you. Every day that goes by is a missed opportunity to close the deal. When you are working, your service partners should be as well.

Track Record and Experience

Service businesses come and go, but the ones who stick around have built a track record of success and experience to get the job done right. When selecting a partner, investigate how long they have been performing the work and how knowledgeable they are. Is their website educational and up-to-date or does it look like it was created 25 years ago listing only a fax number and billing address? Next, make sure they stand by their work by checking to see insured and if there is a transferrable warranty on the service they are providing. Finally, check to see if they are a specialized business that will handle your exact needs or a catch-all business with a lot of “bolt-on” services. It’s common for organizations to add different service businesses without any history or knowledge-base of the services being performed. Specialized businesses move fast, have the right solutions for the job, and can leave you and your clients with a peace of mind.

Customer Ratings and Reviews

A company touting their own greatness continues to be met with an increasing consumer resistance. In today’s market, fancy logos and catchy slogans are far less important the independent review. The service company is an extension of your reputation; poor workmanship, rude personalities, untimely responses, and questionable ethics are all examples of pitfalls that could prevent you from closing deals and filling your pipeline with more opportunities. Resources such as the BBB, Google Reviews, Yelp, Angie’s List, and Home Advisor should be explored for reviews on the performance of the service company. Also, it is always good to check with other brokers to see if they have used the service provider you are researching.

Understands the Real Estate Sales Process

Understanding the pinch points of the real estate sales process and how to get past them elevates your broker status. When aligning with service partners, they should also know how their work fits in the big-picture real estate transaction. The service partner should know how Home Inspectors examine a property and how they identify certain items under service provider’s “jurisdiction”. Specifically, they should know how to avoid the home inspector’s report if addressing the item before the inspection, or to satisfy the report if they are addressing the item after the home inspection. The service partner should also know how their work can affect the lender’s appraisal and underwriting process. Since the property is expected change hands, it is incumbent upon the service provider to tell you and your client how the work will transfer from the seller to the buyer.

Your individual success can be hampered by bad partners or accelerated by great partners. In the end, if you select the right service companies to build your network, you’ll be closing the deal at a much higher rate. Who doesn’t want that?

How to Tell if you have Poured Concrete or a Stone Foundation?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 19, 2018

If you have a finished basement, it may be hard to tell the difference between a poured concrete or stone foundation. But, it's usually not hard to tell at all. Look in the basement; if you see stones you have a stone foundation, if you see smooth cement walls you have poured concrete.

It becomes tricky when people do renovations or rehabs on a house. They'll put in a layer of mortar over the stones to make it smooth so it looks like a poured concrete foundation. That is where you have to be careful.

There is a way you can tell. You have to poke around a little bit. If there are some loose areas poke in there and remove a little bit of mortar and see. Or, you can tap on it with your knuckle or lightly with a hammer; if you hear hollow sounds you can pretty much be sure that it is mortar that has been put on top of a stone foundation. This is done on the inside and sometimes on the outside as well.

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

What Can be Done about Water Leaking in an Elevator Pit?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 05, 2018

This is actually a case study for a residential elevator pit that was being put in by a high-end builder/remodeler in Newton, MA. He had put in a home addition behind where he had put in the elevator pit, which is slightly below the basement. He told me it was leaking where the floor of the elevator pit meets the foundation.

We went in and injected a polymer resin by drilling into the seam, putting our ports in, and injecting the polymer resin. Everything was good. Then we got some very heavy rain and it was leaking again. We went over there next time it was raining, and it was actually not leaking from where we injected, but from about 4" or 5" higher where there was no crack. We had stopped the water from coming in at that seam but there were small fissure cracks that the water found it's way to. As it was coming through, you could see more little areas where the water was coming out. This means that the concrete was either too watery or was not vibrated enough to let these little fissures out. I also found out that there is ledge right behind the pit. This could mean that the concrete may not be very thick.

To address this, we used a crystalized quartz material that penetrates the concrete and then grows microscopically in the pours of the concrete to stop the water.

There have been some good, heavy rains since then and there have been no issues. If you have a leaking elevator pit a basement waterproofing problem, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

Should I Hire a Structural Engineer for a Foundation Crack?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 28, 2018

We got a call from a woman in Needham, MA who bought a house a month or two ago. She had a crack off the foundation window in the basement. I asked her all the normal questions that I ask in order to get a good idea if it is structural or not:

Does it leak? How wide is it? Does it go at a great angle or a slight angle? Upstairs are there any windows in that area that are hard to open or close? Is the molding at the miter joints pulled apart? Are there any cracks in he wall? Is the flooring level? The answer to all the questions was no. I told her it is probably just a settlement crack.

She said, I wish I spoke to you sooner. I asked her why.

She had a home inspection and they told her to speak to a structural engineer. She wanted to make sure the house didn't have an issue so she hired one for about $700 or $800 dollars. He wrote up a nice report and at the end of the report, probably to protect themselves from liability, he wrote a statement that said "it depends on how the soils are underneath there if the house is going to settle anymore or not."

This is essentially true, but the house has been there for over 20 years and there have not been any more signs of settling. To protect himself even more he suggested that she talk to a geologist who does boring samples of the soil. After spending $6,000 on a geologist, the geologist report essentially said "it seems to be OK, but we can't say 100% for sure."

When I told her how much it would be under $700 to get the crack repaired she said, "Boy, I wish I had talked to you first. You said exactly what they said and I would have saved almost $7,000".

About two days later I got another structural engineer report from a customer who bought a house, and it said essentially the same thing. I can't say they are ripping people off, they've been hired to do a job. But, as a homeowner, you have options to look at it in a sensible way.

For a second opinion on foundation cracks, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.

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