We wrote last month about preparing your home for the winter months, but we felt we needed to expand on the importance of taking care of cracks in your home’s foundation.
When water turns to ice it expands around nine percent. This may not seem like a big number, but when you are talking about cracks sometimes only being a hairline, it can make a big difference. The pressure this expansion can put on your concrete is very strong and cause the crack to spread and cause even more damage. The freezing and melting processes can both impact your concrete. The damage can occur with the first freeze-thaw cycle and it will just grow exponentially from that point, growing worse with every cycle.
The problems can affect both the concrete slab and the foundation walls. If the cracks allow water in, it can cause standing water to enter your basement or crawl space or water to enter your foundation blocks. It can also cause concrete shrinkage and other problems.
There isn’t anything you can do to stop winter from coming, as much as some of us would like to. The damage the weather causes isn’t limited to concrete foundation, it can affect any concrete surface around your property. The top layers of concrete can flake off in what is called mortar flaking. As mentioned above, cracks can appear or get bigger. Lastly, the water can cause popout. Popout is caused by water swelling under the surface, which can cause flaking and crumbling on the top of the concrete.
Some damage is visible, but other times it can occur below the surface. Protecting your concrete is important at any time of the year, but it is especially vital during the winter months.
There are some things you can do to prevent ice damage to your concrete. In the past, people just used salt on their surfaces, but it was found that the salt can do as much damage as the ice. We recommend you use an ice melter that contains potassium chloride.
Make sure that the area around your home is ready for winter. Make sure that downspouts and gutters are clear and draining well away from the foundation. Clear snow and ice from around the foundation. Melting snow can trickle down the sides of the foundation wall and cause damage.
Matthews Wall Anchor & Waterproofing Services has waterproofing services available. We’ll come out and take a look at your property. If you only need waterproofing repairs we can do that; if your home already has cracks or other foundation damage, we can help with that, too.
It’s best to get your home ready for a visit from Old Man Winter before he gets here. Taking care of problems now, while it’s still nice out is better than dealing with it in the middle of winter.
Contact us now to learn more about getting your foundation ready for winter!
1. Extend your downspout discharge lines away from your foundation and out into the yard or into an underground dry well. Downspout lines often fail even in newer homes so making sure that the roof water is being properly diverted is essential.
2. Use Drylok on walls that only have minor dampness. This product, and some that are like it, can be an effective short-term solution to keeping dampness isolated. They only work for a few years in some instances and can chip and flake if the water problem becomes worse.
3. Adjust the grade so the outside soil line by the home’s foundation wall slopes away from the house.
4. Make sure that you don’t have any plumbing issues. Upstairs leaks and those that are occurring inside of walls are often hard to diagnose and can appear as basement waterproofing issues since water flows down and tends to accumulate in unpredictable places. A professional plumber should be consulted where this may be in question.
5. Check your gutters at the roof line to make sure that the downspouts are fitted correctly and are fully sealed. Leaks can occur at the roof and water can sometimes find it’s way up underneath the shingles and down through the walls of the home. That will often find it’s way down to the basement’s footing wall joint and appear as basement seepage.
6. Control your interior airspace by closing and sealing any wall cracks or places that are exposed to the outside. Clean and dehumidify the basement’s air quality with a high-performance unit.
7. Make sure the exterior soil level outside the home is below the top of the wall on the inside of the basement. That is otherwise known as where the sill plate is. If the outside mulch bed is higher than the top of the inside basement wall, water can seep through and wash down over the wall. Telltale signs are mulch colored stains on the inside walls.
8. Expose any finished basement wall sections that are showing signs of water damage. This could be spotted on wooden baseboards or on the drywall itself. Another sign of problems with finished basements is bad smells. Insulation can absorb water and lead to mold issues behind finished walls that don’t have sealed vapor barriers and proper drainage prior to their installation. Identifying bad sections should be done by a professional if there is any doubt at all.
9. Create a Curtain Drain in the yard where water is accumulating. This is a non-warranted job by professionals because they nearly always become clogged after a time. They can provide temporary relief of basement water issues by collecting and diverting the marshy wet places to lower sections of the yard.
10. The construction of a new house is the time to properly seal the house for life. The old standby of plastic wrap and Styrofoam sheeting to protect does work. But it is almost always destroyed during the back-filling of the foundation, causing it to leak. This way of sealing no longer meets the international building code, along with many state, country, or city building codes. If you’re building a new home, it’s wise to have a good interior and exterior drain system put in place during the initial building process.
Disclaimer… The above information is intended for informational purposes only. Matthews Wall Anchor & Waterproofing Services does not warrant or imply that these basement waterproofing tips will solve the common issues described. A professional waterproofing expert is always recommended before attempting any remediation work.
Earth Contact Products (ECP) is the leading manufacturer of basement waterproofing products in the industry. That is why Matthews Wall Anchor & Waterproofing Services has teamed up with them for basement waterproofing in the Pittsburgh and surrounding area. Matthews Wall Anchor & Waterproofing Services has been in business for over 30 years and is a nationally recognized foundation repair and basement waterproofing contractor.
Choosing the right contractor and best products for basement waterproofing is important. Once it is complete, you won’t have to worry about water damage in the future.
Listed below are some of the reasons you should choose Matthews Wall Anchor & Waterproofing Services and Earth Contact Products for your basement waterproofing:
If you are in need of basement waterproofing, you can’t go wrong with the products and experience of Matthews Wall Anchor & Waterproofing Services. We will provide you with high-quality products, excellent service, and affordable basement waterproofing prices. Contact us today and we will answer any questions you have regarding your basement waterproofing.
We’ve been pretty fortunate so far this fall, with some very nice weather, but we know that the winter months are just over the horizon. What can you do now to protect your home and its foundation from the harsh cold and ice for the next few months?
Your concrete foundation can be impacted by freezing temperatures and moisture. If your foundation already has a crack, water inside it can freeze, making the crack even bigger. The soil around your foundation will also expand when the water in the earth freezes. This will put pressure on the foundation and can either cause damage or make problems even worse. Protect your home against the oncoming blast of winter!
Below are a few things to do outside of your home to protect the foundation during the winter months.
Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts: If melting snow or ice has nowhere to go, it will pool around your foundation, causing a wide variety of problems. If your gutters are full of leaves and other debris, the water will spill over the sides and straight down alongside your home. Clogged or missing downspouts will also cause problems for you. If the downspout isn’t draining the water at least 10 feet away from your home, the water can find its way back to the soil next to the foundation.
Clear the Snow: Once it snows, you should keep the accumulation away from your foundation. This is especially important once it starts to melt. The baseline ratio of snow to rain is 10 inches of snow equals 1 inch of rain. The average snowfall in Pennsylvania is between 30-45 inches, so around 3-5 inches of rain will be waiting to run down your foundation walls. Drifting snow can be even deeper, so keep that in mind. Use a snow thrower or shovel and keep snow away from your foundation before it melts.
Check Egress Windows: If you have egress windows with a window well make sure that there is no water in the hole after a rain. Also, make sure that there is no water inside of the window, as that can be a sign of a crack or leak. Make sure window drains are clear and free-flowing.
Seal Up Cracks: If there are already cracks in your foundation, you need to have them sealed before the snow falls. If melting snow or ice gets into the cracks, it can cause them to expand, causing more problems and bigger repairs. Don’t get a DIY crack repair kit from your local hardware or big box store, only a professional can make sure that the cracks are completely sealed. A partial seal is worse than no seal, because you may not know that there is water behind the “fix”.
Prepare Your Plumbing: Make sure that any pipes that are on outside walls are protected, especially if the wall is not insulated. If pipes are inside a cabinet or closet, open the doors to allow the heat of the house to keep pipes from freezing and bursting.
Inspect Your Sump Pump: Make sure that your sump pump is in working condition. You may think of a sump pump system as being a summer thunderstorm necessity, but it is also important during the winter. A huge snowfall followed by a warm spell can equal a lot of water in a short time. Make sure your sump pump can handle the amount of water. We also recommend a battery back-up. If the power goes out, you don’t want to be stuck without a working sump pump.
Keep Basement Humidity Low: Most people think of humidifiers in the winter time, as opposed to dehumidifiers. However, you want your basement to remain dry. Running a dehumidifier, encapsulating your crawl space, and installing other waterproofing methods can protect your foundation from damage due to melting snow and ice.
Taking care of your foundation is a year-round task, but we all tend to put it out of our minds during the winter. If you have any questions about preparing your home for the winter, give Matthews Wall Anchor and Waterproofing Services a call and let us help you protect your foundation from the winter weather.
The only fail-proof way to be sure that your wall crack is serious or not is to have an expert look at it. A foundation expert will be able to determine if the wall crack is superficial or a sign of a serious foundation problem. In addition, they will be able to determine the cause of the wall crack and recommend a solution to prevent it from getting worse or happening again.
Every house experiences some settling, so it’s no surprise that you’ll notice new wall cracks. This can happen within months of the house being built or decades after construction. The problem with wall cracks is if they horizontal, wide, or show up between joints. These types of cracks are usually big red flags that you have a serious foundation problem.
If your basement wall is made of cinder blocks, you may see stair-step wall cracks. These cracks run up and down along the cinder block edges, along the grout or mortar lines. These can be tricky. Sometimes it’s due to normal settling and the cracks just need to be filled, but it can also be a sign that the soil is no longer supporting the center of the wall. You will need to hire a trusted and experienced foundation expert to perform soil tests and other types of tests to determine if any repairs are needed. A weakened foundation can quickly turn into a major problem if the issue is not dealt with in a timely manner.
When looking at a wall crack, a vertical one is usually just a sign of expected settling. Usually, a vertical crack will start at the wall and ceiling joint and run along the drywall. These types of cracks occur during normal settling and are usually not signs of a serious problem. That being said, it doesn’t do any harm to have a professional come take a look.
A crack that runs horizontally or at a 45° angle is usually not a good sign and could be a symptom of a serious problem. Your foundation may be shifting or the wall is being pushed from the outside by hydrostatic pressure. Hydrostatic pressure occurs when the soil outside of the foundation becomes oversaturated and begins pushing against the foundation wall. This pressure can be extremely strong and if it is not addressed, it can cause the foundation wall to collapse. It is important that you have a professional foundation expert inspect the property and determine the best method of repair and to make sure that the situation doesn’t reoccur.
There are other things that can indicate that you have a foundation repair problem occurring. Look closely around the crack and see if the nails or screws around the area have come to the surface. The nails or screws have pulled away from the wooden studs they were fastened to. This “nail-popping” usually happens when the drywall is moved a significant distance and is a good indicator that there is a structural problem. Sticking doors or windows is also an easy way to determine if there is a foundation issue. If an interior door sticks, it can be a sign that the frame of the home has been twisted. If the sticking door or window is accompanied by horizontal cracks, this is usually a good sign that there is some structural damage.
When it comes to dealing with foundation damage, it is better to err on the side of caution. Ignoring a problem won’t make it go away and your house won’t heal itself. If you suspect you have foundation damage, including wall cracks, water damage, or other signs, contact a trusted foundation expert like Matthews Wall Anchor. They will inspect your home and determine if you have a need for repairs and what the best method is. Foundation repair is not a DIY project and you can actually make the problem worse by trying to fix it yourself.