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Protect Your Foundation Before Winter Comes

Protect Your Foundation Before Winter Comes

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?

winterize your foundation

Concrete Needs TLC

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!

Outdoor Preparations for Winterizing

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 snowthrower 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.

protect your home this winter

Indoor Preparations for Winterizing

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 with no protection from your 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.

Protect Your Foundation, Protect Your Home

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.

Water Seepage: A Little Water Leads To Big Problems

Water Seepage: A Little Water Leads To Big Problems

water seepage, basement repairWhen people think of wet basements, they may think of standing water and soggy carpeting. And, while a flooded basement is not a treat, even a little water can cause problems for your home and family.

High humidity and unseen water seepage can do as much damage, if not more, than a basement full of water. When you see that you have standing water, you know that you have to do something immediately, so you probably call in a waterproofing expert right away. If you are dealing with just a small trickle, you may not even notice that there is anything wrong.

Water Seepage Problems

There are a variety of problems that can occur if your home is experiencing water seepage. If it is a small trickle that you don’t notice, it could be inside your walls, weakening your supports and foundation walls. Another possible problem is that the water can cause a fire hazard if it comes into contact with electrical systems. It can cause cracks, wood rot, or mold growth.

Mold & Mildew and Your Health

A little bit of water or high humidity can cause mold and mildew to grow and spread. The spores are released into the air and can cause a wide variety of health problems. Over 40% of the air we breathe in our homes comes from our basement or crawlspace, so it is important that we are breathing healthy air. Spores can cause everything from runny eyes and noses to breathing problems and there are even studies that say that they can cause cancer. Children and elderly people are most susceptible to mold and mildew growth.

You may not notice actual mold growth, as this can happen behind walls or in air ducts. You may find that your home has a musty or stale odor and this is usually a sign of mold and mildew growth.

It is very important that you get your home tested for mold if you see any signs of growth or are noticing health issues in your family. The sooner you address the situation, the quicker and less costly the cleanup will be. Most companies will give you a free inspection and estimate for mold removal.

Water Damage and Your Home

Your home is most likely resting on wood beams and a brick or concrete foundation. Water can wreak havoc on both materials. Your wooden supports can soften due to moisture or develop wood rot, causing them to weaken. You may notice your floors warping or sinking or doors and windows sticking or not staying open. Wood will swell with exposure to water, causing all kinds of problems.
clogged gutterConcrete can also fall victim to water seepage. Water can quickly erode concrete, weakening it. It only takes a crack as wide as a hair to allow water in and the water will take advantage and widen that crack even more. You may only see a small dribble on this side of the wall, but on the other side could be an extreme amount of water putting a lot of pressure on your foundation walls.

Check Your Property

There are some small things you can do to keep water out of your basement. Make sure that your gutters are clear and that your downspouts are draining well away from your foundation. Trees and other landscaping should be away from your home, allowing water to drain properly. You may be tempted to go to your favorite DIY store and find something to seal your basement yourself. That usually doesn’t work out well for anyone.

When It’s Time To Call The Pros

Eventually, there comes a time where you just can’t (or shouldn’t) do repairs yourself. A reputable waterproofing contractor, like Matthews Wall Anchor & Waterproofing Services, will look for cracks in your ceilings, floors, or walls. They will be able to determine the cause of the cracks and the best solution for repairing them, in addition to making sure that they do not reoccur.

Solutions range from installing a dehumidifier to interior and exterior waterproofing, including the installation of sump pumps. If you have a crawl space, you may want to have the area encapsulated, in effect, sealing off the crawl space from the water source.

Before you start any waterproofing project, you need to make sure all gaps and cracks are sealed. It won’t do any good to install a waterproofing system if you don’t control the water to begin with.

Interior Waterproofing

basement waterproofingSome interior waterproofing methods that are tried and true include commercial grade waterproofing coatings. These applications are thick and will bond with your concrete or masonry work. The sealers are silicate-based and will chemically react with the concrete, creating a permanent seal.

A step up from a waterproof coating may be needed. The installation of an interior drainage system will collect the water and send it away from your home. Some methods include vapor barriers, dehumidifiers, and sump pumps.

Exterior Waterproofing

Your gutters and downspouts are the first lines of defense when it comes to exterior waterproofing. Make sure they are running clear and away from the foundation. The next step is to make sure the surface drainage is working. Check that the ground around your home is graded properly and drains away from the foundation.

Exterior waterproofing involves excavation, but the payoff is worth it. The installed drainage system doesn’t prevent flooding, but it will work with the interior waterproofing system to keep your basement or crawl space dry.

An Ounce of Prevention

With a little work, you can protect your basement and home from damage caused by water seepage. You can reduce the chances of wall and floor cracks, weakened foundations, and mold growth. Contact the professionals today at Matthews Wall Anchor and let us help you with your water seepage problems.

Choosing The Right Contractor For Foundation Repairs

Choosing The Right Contractor For Foundation Repairs

hiring a foundation repair contractorYou’ve seen the signs around your home and you have made the decision that you need to hire a foundation repair contractor. So, now what? Take some time to do some research and comparison shopping. There are a lot of companies out there that want to separate you from your hard-earned money, but can’t or won’t put the work into providing you with a quality result.

Matthews Wall Anchor has been dedicated to providing the people of Pennsylvania and the surrounding area the best service and foundation repair solutions for over 30 years. We want you to find the best contractor for your situation, so here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when looking for foundation repair professionals.

Important Things To Ask When Hiring A Contractor

Most respectable foundation repair contracting companies will provide you with a free inspection and estimate. Take advantage of this and have a couple inspectors come out to your property, that way you have a baseline to compare companies with.

Some other things to look for include the following:

Communication

Just like any other relationship, communication is key. You’ve probably seen the commercials where the contractor tells the homeowners all the things they are going to do wrong before starting the project. While that is used for comedic effect, it is important that you and the contractor are on the same page with expectations. You should discuss timeframes, equipment being used, the amount of disruption to your home life and property.

A good contractor will be able to work with you to determine what you want and need to be done. You should be able to work together to complete the repairs and everyone can walk away satisfied at the end. A contractor worthy of hiring should treat you with respect, integrity, and honesty. Your home is a big investment and the safety of your family should be a number one priority for any home repair contractor.

Experience
When hiring a foundation repair contractor, make sure they have the experience and knowledge to get the job done effectively and efficiently. It takes certain experience and skills to perform foundation repairs. Not every handyman has the abilities and tools to repair bowed walls, uneven foundations, cracks in floors or walls, or more.

experienced foundation repair companyWhen talking with the contractor, ask them about case studies that are similar to the work you are having done. In addition, you can ask for referrals and affiliations from the contracting company. Make sure their skills match up with the work that needs to be performed.

Some things to ask when you talk to a reference:

  • Did the contractor complete the work as promised and on budget?
  • Were they reliable?
  • Did they communicate well?
  • Would you hire them again? If so, why? If not, WHY?

Products and Other Resources

If you don’t have the right tools, it doesn’t really matter how skilled you are. When vetting your contractor company, ask what products they use. For example, Earth Contact Products and Rhino Carbon Fiber are recognized throughout the industry for their quality and durability.

In addition to the tools that are used, make sure that the company has the staff to complete the work. We know of a couple that hired a roofing company for their two-story home. Every morning, one teenaged boy was dropped off to work on the house. This isn’t safe, and it took the poor kid a month to shingle the house. A team of workers should be on-hand to make sure the job is completed quickly and safely.

If permits are needed, ensure that the contractor has the resources to get this done in a timely manner. It’s frustrating to wait on a project because of missing or late paperwork.

Insurance and Financial Responsibility

If a company has been around a long time and is financially responsible, you will have a better chance of them taking care of your budget fairly. There is always a chance that something occurs that can change a quote, but trustworthy contractors will make sure that their inspections uncover any problems to ensure you have an accurate estimate.

You should also make sure that they have insurance to cover their employees and other risks that occur. An honest contractor will want to make sure that they are protected and will be able to complete the repairs as promised. Also, when signing a contract, make sure there is a limit on the time and money that will be spent on the project. If a contractor balks at this, move on to the next company.

Red Flags To Keep An Eye Out For

There are some things that should make you think twice about hiring a company for your foundation repairs. We’re not saying that these are deal-breakers, but you may want to dig deeper if you come across any of these warning signs:

  • warning signs of a bad contractorIf a contractor asks for the money before the project begins. A deposit may be in order (usually no more than 15%), to show good faith on your part and to begin buying materials, but the final bill shouldn’t occur until after the project is completed to everyone’s satisfaction.
  • If the price quoted is much lower than other quotes. There’s only so much “wiggle room” when it comes to pricing. If they are cutting corners to give you a deal, where are those cuts being made? Quality products, experienced staff, safety measures? As always, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Check reviews online. No one review is going to tell the whole truth, but if you see a pattern of complaints or praises, you can have a better feel for a company.
  • As stated above, communication is very important. If you are having trouble getting in touch with them to even come out for an inspection, what will it be like in the middle of a project?
  • Permits? We don’t need no stinking permits! If a contractor brushes aside the need for a permit as just one more expense that can be done away with, then you need to do away with them. The permits are there for a reason, and if you don’t have a building inspection, you’ll never know if the project is safe and the repairs are being performed correctly.
  • Make sure they are licensed. If they aren’t licensed, there is a reason and you need to move on. Also check with Better Business Bureau for problems, litigation, and so on. There won’t be trouble, if you don’t invite it into your home.

Hire The Best Fit For You

It used to take a lot of phone calls and legwork to check out contractors, but it’s easier today through the use of the Internet. Look through the contractor’s website to get information. Also, check out sites like Yelp, Home Advisor, Angie’s List, and the Better Business Bureau.

Knowledge is the best tool you have, do your homework and arm yourself before you contact the first company for an estimate. Shady companies won’t want to deal with an educated consumer, you’ll be too hard to push around and deceive.

We hope this will help you be prepared when you have to hire a foundation repair company in the Pennsylvania area.

Common End of Summer Problems with Foundations in Pittsburgh

drought, soil, foundation repairCommon End of Summer Problems with Foundations in Pittsburgh

The weather has been weird this year, but as the summer winds down, you need to keep an eye on the soil around your home’s foundation. Drought and dry conditions can cause the soil to shrink and withdraw. As the soil dries out from the hot dry conditions, you may notice some changes in the surrounding earth. Usually, during the summer, there’s not only a lack of rain but hot, dry winds. The soil quickly dries out, leaving voids between the dirt and the foundation walls and also between the footings and the earth. Homes in areas that have very wet, then extremely dry conditions are especially susceptible. The constant movement of the soil leaves gaps and pushes the foundation back and forth, weakening the structure.

Dry Earth = No Support

During droughts, your grass, garden, and trees are all fighting for the little bit of water that’s in the soil. Between the evaporation that naturally occurs and the roots sucking the water out of the soil, they being leeching the moisture out of the soil from underneath the foundation. You can avoid this by making sure that trees are planted far enough away from your home. A good rule of thumb is to determine how tall the tree will be at maturity and then plant the tree that distance from the home. So, if the tree will be 50 feet tall, then it should be 50 feet away from the house.

Another method is to plant a root barrier. This is placed between the tree and the foundation and is a 3- to 4-inch wide trench about 3 feet wide. Lined with plastic, it will stop feeder roots from moving too close to the foundation.

Your Home Needs Support

The ground around your home is what keeps it all together. This base of soil provides a firm foundation that holds the walls upright. When the weather is hot and dry, the moisture evaporates and the soil condenses. The soil pulls away from the foundation, leaving little or no support and walls that can crack or even collapse. Even a small crack can cause problems. Moisture can enter the crack and expand and contract, weakening the foundation wall until a collapse occurs.

If the foundation under your house cracks or fails, your house can sink, causing catastrophic damage. It is urgent for the safety of your family and your home that you contact Matthews Wall Anchor as soon as you suspect your foundation may be compromised. You will not only save money but your home and the well-being of your loved ones.

Matthews Wall Anchors To The Rescue

If you even suspect that your soil may be pulling away from your foundation or you have other foundation problems, call Matthews Wall Anchor today. Our team of experts can inspect your home for free and determine if your foundation has been weakened due to soil dryness or other factors. We even offer ECP Repair Now financing options for all of your foundation repair needs. We are your number one foundation repair contractor in Pennslyvania, Ohio, and the surrounding area.

Why is Your PA Crawlspace Damp & Humid?

Wet, Damp, or Humid Crawlspace Problems in PA

Damp Crawlspace Problems in PA

If you have moisture problems in your crawlspace, you are not alone. Many homeowners in Pennsylvania and in other states deal with crawlspace moisture every day. Some of the most common signs that there is a moisture problem in your crawl space include:

There are, however, a few different things that you can do to prevent water from entering your crawlspace and causing problems such as mold growth and musty odors.

The first solution is to install a crawlspace vapor barrier. The installation of a vapor barrier is known as crawlspace encapsulation since the vapor barrier is installed like a lining all along the interior surface of the crawlspace. Vapor barriers not only seal cracks in your crawlspace walls to prevent water from leaking through them, but they also prevent water vapor from seeping through the concrete, since the vapor cannot diffuse through the barrier.

Dehumidification can also help to reduce moisture levels in your crawlspace. Here at Matthews, we offer Santa Fe Dehumidifiers to prevent high crawlspace humidity from causing mold growth or wood rot. If the moisture in your crawlspace has started to deteriorate the crawlspace columns and supports, you may even need to invest in crawlspace piering options.

Causes of Wet and Damp Crawlspaces in Pennsylvania

The causes of crawlspace problems are usually related to large amounts of water collecting around your foundation. There are a few specific issues that can cause moisture to appear in your crawlspace:

  • Poor Drainage/Surface Water: If the drainage systems around your home (especially the exterior drainage system) do not function properly, it may cause water to build up around your foundation. Pooling water in your yard can also be the result of gutters, downspouts, or grading that do not dump water out far enough from your foundation. 
  • Groundwater Seepage: If there is a large concentration of water in the soil around your home, some of that moisture may seep through the porous concrete of your crawlspace walls and lead to serious moisture issues. Groundwater also increases the hydrostatic pressure in the soil. This pressure puts stress on your foundation and can lead to cracks, which create a great entry point for moisture.
  • Crawlspace Vents: The vents in your crawlspace can also let moisture into the home. As air from outdoors enters your home through the crawlspace vent, it cools down. The cooled air cannot hold as much moisture, which means that the humidity in the crawlspace will increase. High humidity in your crawl space creates a variety of moisture issues: mold growth, damp walls, condensation, etc.

To determine the best solution for the moisture problem in your crawlspace, consult the experts at Matthews Wall Anchor. We have the solutions to fit your Pennsylvania home and keep your crawlspace dry.

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