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Carefully applied high-pressure injection methods using proven substances like polyurethane can remedy many interior waterproofing challenges. If exterior repairs are merited, the job is just as carefully prepped, performed, and completed. Smith’s is as expert in excavation-type repairs as we are in delivering the skills needed for interior-focused solutions.
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There are 2 types of water sources that can enter your home: (1) surface water and (2) groundwater. Either kind can find its way into your home and result in minor to major damage if proper waterproofing efforts have not been made to safeguard your structure.
Surface water is often thought of as temporary water, like rain and melting snow. Surface water is also as its name implies: water either falling on top of the earth’s surface (like rain) or topical water bodies like rivers, lakes, and streams. Ultimately, surface water may indeed seep (through gravity and excess water conditions) into the earth, essentially becoming groundwater.
As you may know, water exists under the ground. The effect of groundwater on foundations depends on several factors — where the structure sits in relation to the groundwater water level, fluctuating water tables, soil content, and so on. Changing conditions in the environment affect your property’s water levels / water tables, which, in turn, can impact your home’s foundation. Groundwater, then, is the naturally occurring water that resides below the surface of the earth. It, too, can be a source of water intrusion to create waterproofing issues.
For your convenience, here’s a list of signs that moisture / water has at some time entered your home / basement. While you may not see actual water in your basement, these signs indicate its intrusion at some interval. You won’t necessarily see the water itself for the simple reason that water evaporates. Unfortunately, the cause of the water condition does not evaporate … until it’s repaired.
Be aware that some of these conditions can be caused by surface water or groundwater sources, or a combination of both:
Damp or moist spots on walls will ultimately show varying grey discoloration on block or poured concrete walls. Discolored floor tiles or discolored basement floor areas are other signs of water entry.
Mildew and mold stains are obvious signs of moisture entry and will also show discoloration. Mold and mildew are living organisms — fungi that grow and thrive in damp or darkened areas. Moist or wet areas are “breeding grounds” for the formation of mold that can present health hazards and denigrate the indoor air quality of your home as well as damage home contents. (Damp areas are also breeding areas for pests, bugs, and rodents that gravitate to water. Add hiding places for them, like basement cracks and crevices, and problems with your basement are further compounded.)
Musty odors can be caused even if you don’t see visible signs of what’s causing them. Musty smells may or may not be accompanied by visible mold / mildew since odors are the result of the decaying process linked to mildew, mold, and dry rot. Thus, you may detect these odors that indicate that dampness-caused conditions exist, but you may not find proof of the wetness causing them. Again, water evaporates, but water’s damaging effects do not disappear if causes are left untreated.
Dry rot is a brown-black growth appearing on walls or even clothes and other objects. Like mold, this is also a fungus. Some may think of dry rot more to do with boats and their exposure to water. But dry rot forms on land, too, based on the same principle. It’s the result seen when damaging water causes wood or wood-based products to rot or decay.
Cracks in walls and floors are usually caused by movement in your home’s foundation. Cracks that form because of underground soil content or shifting settlement issues may grow; these are considered active or “working” cracks. In comparison, cracks resulting from shrinkage are normally static in nature. Depending on the severity and cause, cracks can lead to extensive structural problems for your home. Basement wall or floor cracks provide entryways for water to leak in or seep through. Hence, it’s always important to repair cracks because of their strong potential to permit damaging water entry.
Cracks often form in vulnerable spots like the seam (or cove) where the wall meets the floor. They can also appear on walls from top-to-bottom and will vary in type and intensity. Cracks can develop with any kind of basement construction – poured cement or block-type walls. Exact repair and waterproofing methods are determined by condition examination as well as the type of basement construction. (For example: injection system waterproofing repairs may be required for cracks that form in poured cement walls; drain system repairs may be the likely answer to cracks in block walls.) Regardless, waterproofing expertise is the solution to address basement cracks that provide the opportunity for water entry to occur.
Remember: There is a LOT of weight (the weight of your home) resting on your foundation. Your foundation walls must be maintained and protected to handle that weight. Water intrusion can become trapped in cracks and cause further damage you may not detect until it forms for a while, but it’s developing nonetheless. If the damage is already semi-severe, you will likely observe signs like corroding and / or buckled or bowed walls due to the effects of hydrostatic pressure.
Peeling paint is another indicator of water damage. Paint issues may show up as paint flaking off walls, chipping, and discoloration.
Warped paneling is a common sign of moisture damage. Damaging effects can also include discoloring and bowing of wood. Wood and wood products are absorbers of water; their susceptibility to moisture can be manifested and quite noticeable.
Rust spots are well-known, obvious indicators of water effects. In the basement, for instance, you may see rust formations on laundry appliances, metal shelving, your fuse box, metal objects on the floors, etc.
If you have signs of water damage, waterproofing repairs may be warranted, and Smith’s is ready to help. But there are everyday maintenance measures you can take – and we recommend regardless – in preventing water from finding its way into your home. Here are hints for homeowners:
Gutters and downspouts must be properly installed and intact, clear of debris and regularly maintained to channel rain / melted snow away from your foundation. Leaves, twigs, and other debris can easily collect, obstructing flow. Clogged gutters and downspout may even cause backups that can damage your roof. Gutters and downspouts should be maintained at least biannually. Spring and after-fall inspection / maintenance should be routine for the homeowner, but it’s wise to check around your home after heavy snows or strong wind / rainstorms to ensure gutter and downspout integrity. Adjust, repair or replace any portions as soon as needs are noted.
Downspout ends should be properly angled to direct water away and keep it from pooling around or near your foundation. Use a downspout splash block or concrete gutter to deter water collection and direct it away. The angle should be roughly at a 1-degree angle per foot. Extensions to spouts are a very good idea to aid channeling of water away from the home; angles here should also be of a similar, sufficient slope.
Downspouts can also be diverted into a pipe set into the ground with the pipe directing water away from the foundation. However, this method is sometimes more problematic than helpful, if you happened to have inherited such a situation. The underground pipe should be long enough to discharge water runoff a minimum of 15 feet from the foundation. But be aware that underground downspouts and the pipe itself may back up, freeze up, or otherwise malfunction if improperly installed or if leaks, cracks or separations develop underground. Blockages in the pipe can have quite adverse effects, causing water to back up toward the foundation. Pipe routing should direct water into a storm drain, dry well or to a surface outlet – again, located at least 15 feet away. With the diverted downspout / underground pipe method, attention to proper drainage is of critical importance.
Inspect the ground and conditions around your home for several contributors of water entry. If the ground near your home is sharply sloped away from the foundation, ensure that ends of downspouts discharging water to surface soil are at least 5 feet from the foundation. Any closer to the top pitch of the grade / slope and water may find its way into your basement.
Proper grading / grade steepness is very important. Many recommend that the surface and ground be sloped away from the home at a pitch of 1-inch drop over 10 foot; still others say it should be as much as 1 inch per 1 foot. If it appears your grading or landscaping has the potential for water-entry problems, re-grading efforts should be attempted. Of course, any lawns that are quite flat – or those sloping toward the house – present true potential for damaging water to enter your basement.
Yard drains / surface water drains are recommended as a solution when a positive grade cannot be achieved and water pooling routinely occurs on the ground’s surface. In such instances, drain systems can be installed against a home / building, along the sidewalk area, the driveway, etc.
On the subject of driveways: older concrete walkways or driveways that slope toward the foundation of the home – especially if they are cracked, crumbled or otherwise in need of repair – are highly potential problems that may cause home water entry. In these situations, consider waterproofing first, then replacement of concrete areas.
Basement window and wells that are unprotected can easily permit water entry. Any windows or part of them that are below the home’s grading should receive additional protection via masonry (or other material) window wells. Also, plastic or other-material awning-like covers can be used to enclose windows to prevent water entry. Ensure that all basement or underground window frames are well sealed and that closure mechanisms are in good operating condition. Don’t present an “open invitation” for rain and melted snow to enter your basement.