Basement and Foundation Problems and What to Do About Them

This spring in Northeast Ohio and in some parts of the country has been a very rainy one. The flooding that accompanies these spring showers is something that as homeowners we do not want to think about too much. If the basement of your home have issues, the rain that may seep into the basement of your home is probably something that you are expecting, and a problem you might want to tackle right away.  Leaving issues like water in the basement are serious enough for you to act right away, instead of postponing them and having larger issues and bills later on.

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Can You Identify These Common House Foundation Issues?

How many times have you heard someone dismiss foundation cracks as simply an old house that’s “settling”? Ignoring foundation problems such as cracks and uneven floors can lead to serious – and expensive – problems down the road.

Homes are built on dirt and, over time, that dirt will shift and settle. Clay, for example, will contract and expand depending on the moisture. Sand will erode after significant rainfall or flooding. Plus, the average home weighs 160 tons so that’s a lot of pressure on the dirt underneath your home, explains Michael Connolly, marketing manager for Lowcountry Basement Systems, which recently moved into the Charleston market.

“Problems don’t get better, they only get worse, and the worse they get the more expensive they will be to fix,” Connolly says.

Foundation issues can keep doors and windows from opening properly. Moisture can get into the house and create mold problems. Not properly repairing these issues can also make it difficult to sell your home down the road, he adds.


Keeping mold away as flooding continues

Greece, N.Y. – As water continues to flood homes along Lake Ontario, homeowners are trying to keep their homes as dry as possible.

Mold remediation is a real possibility, but it has to wait until the water stops coming in.

Christopher Kehoe lives along Edgemere Drive in Greece.

His backyard is surrounded by sandbags, and he has extended his sump pumps since water started moving in.

“This is the outlet of the sump pump. We extended out to the lake to get it as far away from the house as possible,” said Kehoe.


Town coffers crumble along with a region’s home foundations

As the foundation beneath their home crumbles, Christina Mailhos and her husband are trying to figure out how to come up with $200,000 or more for the massive fix while college tuition bills loom for two teenagers.

But that is hardly the extent of her worries. As the top official in this small town, where hundreds of homes may have the same problem, she fears for her constituents’ financial futures and the local economy.

“If a tornado had hit, everyone would come and try to help, and they would bring you a casserole,” she said. “In this case, nobody realizes, and a lot of people are fearful to come forward and talk about it.”

A growing number of home foundations in central and northeastern Connecticut are failing because of the presence of pyrrhotite, a mineral that naturally reacts with oxygen and water. Over decades, that reaction can cause the concrete to crack and crumble, making some homes unsellable and unlivable.

The problem, which first came to light in the mid-1990s, has been traced to a Willington quarry that provided material to a concrete maker whose product was used in thousands of houses. The Connecticut attorney general has not pursued legal action against the company, saying it can’t prove violations of consumer protection laws.


 

Is Your Basement Prepared for Spring?

Spring weather has arrived sooner than we were expecting.  Temperatures in northeast Ohio are some of the warmest in more than a hundred years according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration NOAA, it also predicts cooler and wetter temperatures for the northeastern part of the United States.  If we are taking South Carolina’s weather as an example as what’s to come in northeast Ohio, we are going to need a lot of umbrellas for this spring season.

Keeping the water away from the foundation of your home and basement can be a very inexpensive fix. Checking the perimeter of your home is a good idea. It can give you a clear view of where water is sitting, and not draining away from the foundation.  If you have an old sump pump, check to see if it’s in working condition. You may need it when you least expect it, only to find out that is not longer serviceable.

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Solving basement problems

 Basements and crawl spaces are often a home’s “dirty little secret,” problems put off until homeowners grow weary of leaks, flooding, cracks, buckles, undesirable smells and vapors emanating from below, or want to get the best price when they sell. Often I’ve conjured making my basement a “Halloween horror maze,” but usually more sobrietous moments prevail.
Years ago, after sweeping too much water after downpours toward my basement drain, I conferred with colleague Larry Gilliland, a tree-stump removal contractor, whose son Brad had launched Brad Gilliland Excavating & Basement Waterproofing. I invited father and son to my dungeon and never will forget Brad’s innocent remark that I apparently used my basement “for storage.” “Junk pile” might have been more apropos.
“When a home is put up for sale, I strongly recommend any basement problems be fixed before it’s listed,” notes Bloomington Realtor Henry Nethery. “Otherwise, the sale might be jeopardized, or the homeowner wind up paying more for repairs.

Governor Henry McMaster has declared March 5-11 “South Carolina Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week.”It is all to remind residents to be prepared for potential sever weather across the state, specifically focusing on tornadoes and flooding.
There will be a state-wide tornado drill March 9, to include all public schools and a few other entities.South Carolina Emergency Management is also teaming up with the National Weather Service to release a number of reminders for before, during, and after these severe weather events, listed below.
Prepare for any Emergency·

Develop an Emergency Action Plan for your home, place of business or other that includes what you would do in case of major emergency or disaster.· Develop a communication plan that enables you to reach out to family members when normal lines of communication are not functioning.· Have an emergency kit for your home, place of work and vehicle. Remember, “The First 72 are on You.


With spring right around the corner, the timing seemed to be perfect when I heard from the folks at U.S. Waterproofing, a basement waterproofing service company.“We get the most calls in the spring, when people sell their home or from people who just bought one,” said Matt Stock, president of U.S. Waterproofing.
“It’s those calls from buyers — who have a surprise, undisclosed and expensive basement leak — that break our hearts. We know they weren’t prepared for that kind of expense upon moving into their new home.”

A third-generation family member in the basement waterproofing business, Stock said he began assisting his family in all-things-basements when he was 12.In 2012, Stock launched the U.S. Waterproofing Learning Center, to educate homeowners, real estate agents, home inspectors and others concerned with home improvement, waterproofing, and repair. Below, he dishes out some good, sound advice.