All homes built on or below ground level require some form of waterproofing in order to avoid moisture-related issues. A basement that is exposed to moisture will feel damp, giving off a musty odor. It can also provide the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew, which can pose serious health risks if left untreated.
Damp, musty, moldy — does this sound like your basement? If so, you would be wise to consider waterproofing your basement right away, and here’s why:
Waterproofing your basement can save you a lot of stress and money in the long run. If you have any questions about the process, feel free to give us a call!
Attention South Jersey Homeowners…Read this NOW!
Gutters and Ice Damming – The dirty little secrets you need to know and what you need to do…to prevent unnecessary damage and avoid the heartache and headache of a potential water damage nightmare!
When winter’s disasters strike…too often it hits close to home. Bitter cold, harsh winds, ice and snow can wreck havoc…and at the worst times!
So what do you need to do to stay ahead of the curve and avoid disaster?
Jim Allen (the guy just over there to the right…) co-owner and water intrusion expert – of TermiGuard Services & Fenwick was recently interview by news reporter Carol Erickson of Channel 3 Eyewitness News about winter preparations.
Gutter’s winter role and ice damming:
Gutters are designed to capture roof water run-off to protect our exterior covering materials and to keep it away from our foundation walls. But all too often gutters, and neglected gutters can and do cause a wide variety of water damage issues – ice damming being one of them – and for some reason we all seem to forget about them at winter’s onset.
Winter Gutter Issues:
After the feature on Channel 3, I sat down with Jim to talk further about gutters – during the winter months – as well as ice damming and the actions you should take now to stay ahead of the game.
Check out the interview below!
Jess: Jim, what is the biggest problem with gutters and what’s the easiest fix?
Jim: Well, if you’re like me, you might procrastinate and neglect some of the household chores that are vital to do Let’s face it; I don’t know anyone who likes cleaning gutters! I mean, it’s dirty, messy, time consuming and well, dangerous – ladders and gutter cleaning cause the majority of homeowner injuries. But to answer your question, keeping the gutter free of debris is #1. Ya gotta clean them, and the money that can save is big!
But if you do procrastinate…or are afraid of heights, I recommend hiring a service company to clean them. From $60 – $120 is all it will cost. Do it at least 2 times a year. Although I prefer 4 – twice in the spring and twice in the fall.
Jess: That all seems pretty obvious, but what should homeowners do if cleaning was forgotten?
Jim: If the gutters aren’t frozen with water get them cleaned. If they are frozen, see if the outlet can be unclogged. If they are frozen and you can’t unclog them, get them cleaned as soon as there is a thaw. The last thing you need is a flooded basement or crawl space. Besides the damage to building materials and personal stored items, mold can colonize in these areas pretty quickly, 48 hours or less.
Jess: What about the downspouts? Is there anything we need to know about them?
Jim: Great question and this is probably the 2nd thing you should check. Take a look at the discharge end of the downspout…is it clogged with debris? Is it frozen with a block of ice? Is it tied into an underground drain and is the underground drain clogged? All of these issues should be warning signs and will certainly cause some problems. If you can do the maintenance to make these corrections, do so ASAP. If not, hire a professional…underground drains typically require a little more skill and time than most homeowners have.
Jess: What if you think the underground drains are clogged, what then?
Jim: Disconnect the downspout from the drain and install a temporary one on top of the ground. Secure it so it doesn’t dislodge and then make your permanent repairs to the underground drain in the Spring.
Jess: Is there anything else to add?
Jim: If you know you have clogged gutters, and they’re frozen, and the temperatures don’t allow for a thaw to clean them, make sure your soil grade in those areas pitches away from the house. 1″ drop over 12″ of run is ideal for the first 4-6′. If you add soil, be sure to tamp it firmly.
Jess: Ok great, I have one more question. In your interview with Channel 3, Carol Erickson asked you what the ice was at the roof’s edge…you called it ice damming…is that a gutter issue?
Jim: I’m glad you asked that. It’s not a gutter issue per say but it can and will lead to them.
You see, ice damming in gutters is a result of a poorly ventilated attic and most likely an under insulated attic. As heat rises in our home and makes its way into the attic, it causes the snow pack to melt too quickly. As that snow melt (water) hits the eve of the roof it then refreezes causing a back-up of ice and water. This puts added weight on the gutter. This extra weight makes the gutter pull away from the structure – your roof.
Jess: Well after hearing that I’m going to have to ask another question. How is this prevented? It sounds like something we should all be concerned about.
Jim: I kinda gave you the clues just a bit ago – better ventilation and a properly insulated attic are the keys. We want the least amount of heat loss as possible going from our living areas into our attics. Ideally, we want the attic cavity the same temperature as the outdoors but that’s not practical. That’s where the ventilation helps. Ways to achieve good ventilation (to get ride of that warm moist air) are by installing vents in our exterior soffits, vent baffles between our rafters that extend into the eves, and to have ridge venting along the entire length of our roof.
Jess: That sounds pricey?
Jim: It all depends on how you look at it – water entering you home, damaging insulation, drywall and causing mold growth can be a very expensive alternative. And we don’t really benefit from those types of repairs, do we? The number one reason we see so much mold in attics is poor ventilation and ice damming issues. And the worst area for this to happen is on the north facing side of your attic. Those cold, north winter winds just exacerbate the problem.
Jess: Well then, I think personally I would take the precautions and preventative measures now, rather than have all of those problems and have to fork out potentially thousands in repair and mold treatment and remediation costs later down the road!
Thanks a lot Jim for taking the time to talk about this topic in detail! I really appreciate it and I’m sure the folks out there will too! You may have just saved them a bundle!
If you’re having any concerns about your gutters, think that you have clogged gutters, or suspect to have possible water intrusion issues from clogged or frozen gutters, give TermiGuard Services & Fenwick a call TODAY at 856-753-1401 or 609-601-9400.
When you’ve had water leaks, seepage or flooding…
Here are the actions to take when dealing
With the potential structural defects or failures it can cause…
Learn how water can compromise your foundation,
How to identify the problems, fix them,
And restore the strength & integrity of your home or building…
Once and for all…
Water, water, water!
It’s the disease (cause) of most symptoms (defects & structural issues) requiring repair in any home or building.
Collectively, water causes more damage and more costs than any other home or building issue… and it plays a major roll in foundation and footing defects, too.
If you suspect you have footing or foundation issues, you’ll want to read on…
When there’s water in your home (where it shouldn’t be)…
Over time, chronic water seeping into and through your foundation walls can cause them to deteriorate. Cinder block-based foundation walls are most susceptible because they’re fabricated with a porous, open-cell structure. As water seeps through the porous block material, it fills the voids, slowly breaking down the components. The first evidence of this decomposition is when you can see white and/or grayish chalky stains (efflorescence) on the block surface.
Water can weaken your walls…
As your home or building settles, your foundation walls can develop stress cracks. The waterproofing materials on the outside of your foundation wall can then fail or separate, leaving the wall surface open to water intrusion. This water freezes and thaws with the seasons, making the cracks larger. When heavy rains or melting snow raises the groundwater level temporarily, or if the ground slopes toward your home instead of away from it, water will accumulate around the foundation, and hydrostatic pressure builds up.
Water always seeks the path of least resistance, so the pressure pushes it through any cracks, joints, or larger pores in the concrete or concrete blocks, and into your basement.
The hydrostatic pressure also applies force to the wall structure that can slowly (though it can sometimes do so quite quickly) cause structural failure. When you can see horizontal cracks opening along the mortar joints, and/or an inward leaning of your foundation wall, you’ve got evidence of advanced structural failure
If you can see it with your own eyes…
Take a good look at your foundation wall, sighting from one end down the length of it (preferably at the top). Note any indication inward bowing. the obvious evidence may be subtle, so look closely at the wall where the mortar joints around each block meet. If there’s a crack in the joint of an 1/8 of an inch, or more, it suggests a potentially serious issue.
As you look at the block and mortar joints more closely, note if any of the cracks have worked into a stair-step pattern. If yes, it could mean the water has also been slowly weakening the soil under your footing. It’s possible the soil was soft or not sufficiently compacted before the footing was poured. Of course, if it’s not a water-related issue, you’ll want to know that too.
It all starts outside your home…
As you continue examining your foundation, take a peek outside. There’s a good chance you’ll have issues with your drainage system – that means your gutters, downspouts, grading, and the drainage tiles on your foundation footings around your home or building. Do you clean your gutters regularly? Do your downspouts discharge the roof run-off properly away from your foundation walls? Are your underground drain tiles (they allow water to escape the foundation footings) clogged and/or backing up?
Does the landscape immediately around your home or building slope towards it… or away from it, as it should? Does your landscape design make it impossible for water to drain away from your foundation?
But, wait… did we miss anything inside?
If you have an existing, interior floor drain system and sump pump, is it working properly, or has it failed? Do you have drain tiles with and weeping holes to draw water away from the foundation footings? Where does your sump pump discharge? If it’s draining just outside your foundation wall, that’s a problem. Better go back outside and take a look.
So, what’s the fix now?
First, you’ll need to treat and cure the water ‘disease,’ right? And, that means correcting the water issues. But, you’ll also want to fortify your wall or properly support your footing. Time-tested construction, coupled with a little technology will do the trick. Whether it’s re-construction, rod and grout technique, I-beams or angle iron bracing, helical piles or under pinning… rest assured we’ll prescribe the right unique solution to solve your problem… permanently.
And, what does the future hold?
Everything requires on-going maintenance, and your home or property is no exception. After we’ve fortified your foundation and warranted it against failure, our annual Water Intrusion Inspection will to help identify and prevent any new, potential threats.
As always – Dedicated to providing you healthier living,
Jim & Mike Allen, Owners
TermiGuard Services & Fenwick
If you had a burst water pipe, foundation cracks,
A flooded basement or any of a multitude of other
Water-based issues with your home or building…
Would you be covered?
If you’re like many home and property owners in South Jersey
The Jersey Shore, and even the Southeastern Pennsylvania & Philadelphia areas…
Memories of Hurricane Sandy, and the damage she left in her wake
Are still painfully present.
If Sandy – or other events beyond your control – victimized you, wouldn’t you want the damage repaired sooner rather than later, especially if the events were water-related?
Unfortunately, freak accidents, or other natural events do happen…
And damage caused by burst water pipes, roof damage from wind or falling trees
A fire, storms (or a hurricane) can be incredibly expensive to repair…
Especially if you don’t take care or them as soon as possible…
If any of these events were to happen to you, do you know if your current insurance would cover the the repair costs?
Being prepared well before you need to make a claim will save you time and money – but think of all the stress and grief you’ll avoid by dealing with issues like these in advance, instead of having to deal with them when you aren’t well prepared or covered…
Even though disasters typically happen when we least expect them, knowing what your insurance actually covers – and what actions you’ll need to take – will let you maintain control. That means you’ll still be in the driver’s seat.
Indeed, in most cases, turning to a professional you can trust to deal with the repairs will be solid first step in restoring your home to its original state, and in a complete and timely fashion.
It’s important you ask yourself these questions…
If I were to experience a burst water pipe over the weekend…
• Could I get in touch with my insurance agent?
• Would my insurance cover the damage repairs?
• Do I know of a professional, reliable company that could take care of the problem and repairs?
Would my insurance coverage include things like…
• Sump & drain?
• Mold treatment & restoration?
• Contents coverage?
• A flood endorsement?
Would my service repair company…
• Have sufficient personnel to do the work right away?
• Know what claims insurance companies will or will not likely cover?
• Have the proper experience, expertise, systems, equipment, and procedures for getting
things done right – as well as quickly and completely?
• Have the appropriate licenses/permits necessary to apply antimicrobial treatments and
understand how to handle & apply them safely?
• Know how to guide me through the claims process?
So… can you answer all these questions correctly?
If not, wouldn’t it be a good idea to start getting the answers?
All you’ll need to do is speak with the right people, including your…
• Insurance company
• Insurance agent
• Service & repair company (more specifically a waterproofing and damage restoration company), if you
already have one. If you don’t have one – maybe it’s time to start looking for a reliable one.
If you aren’t satisfied with the answers you get when you speak with them, it might be a good time to reconsider your options…
Because settling for just any coverage plan, or any service company could cost you big-time when it comes time for the fix up…
So, you wouldn’t want to settle for just ‘okay’ coverage when it comes to protecting one of your biggest investments, right?
You’d want to restore your home or building to its original state, wouldn’t you?
Recognize – Repairs (including the following) aren’t cheap, and they’re certainly not of the do-it-yourself variety. Repairs and/or clean up caused by…
• Fire damage
• Wind, storm & rain water damage
• Water & floodwater damage
• Hurricane/storm damage.
As well as the costs of ancillary services, including…
• Water damage rip-out/demolition
• Dry-out & dehumidification services
• Mold, bacteria & antimicrobial treatments (and return prevention programs).
Remember – Because it’s your property, your insurance policy, your claim, and your money – you can choose your insurance coverage, and the contractor to do the clean up and repairs…
So make sure you seek out a qualified, professional, and experienced contractor who will put your best interests (and those of your home or building) first.
Don’t wait for the unexpected to occur – take time to protect your investment, today.
Speak with the right folks, find the plan and the company that will best protect you.
It goes without saying, we’ve got no control of the weather – but, we can control how we deal with it.
You might notice water in your basement after rain storms. Maybe you’re flooding from water intrusion, or maybe you notice the less obvious – seepage or water stains at the base of your basement or crawl space foundation walls.
After noticing it, you probably asked yourself, ‘How’s the water getting in’?
Do you want the good news or the bad news first?
The bad news – if water found its way in once… it’ll find its way in again!
The good news – there’s a solution for your problem and it’ll help prevent future water intrusion and damage, too!
It’s called a “French” drain…
Vous ne parlez pas français? Pas de problème!
Translation – Don’t speak French? No problem!
You don’t need to speak French to understand how this drainage system works… it didn’t even originate in France! Phe-e-e-w!
(It was actually after a farmer in Massachusetts – his name? Henry French – now there’s a knee slapper for ya’!)
So sit back and let us do all the explaining…
Check for signs of surface water problems…
Give the outside areas of your home a quick inspection – preferably during, or just after a rain storm.
Here are a few things you’ll want to look for while walking around your South Jersey home…
• A ‘negative grade’ in the ground around the foundation of your home – This means the ground slopes
toward your basement or crawl space foundation wall, rather than away – and a negative grade
will guide water directly toward your foundation
• Spongy ground or even standing water close to your home or foundation – areas where
the ground is overly saturated or there are visible puddles of water
• Clogged drain spouts and/or gutters.
If you notice any of these symptoms, along with water intrusion in your basement, it may be time to do something about it.
So, just what does the French drain do?
If water collects next to the foundation of your home or building, it needs to go somewhere – and so, down, down, down it goes!
Water will find its way into foundation cracks, leaving you with a flooded basement, water-stained walls, or other water-seepage issues. Since there’s no changing the fact that water flows downward, you’ll need a solution installed and ready when that water starts seepin’ on down.
The main goal of the French drain (aka – perimeter drain) is to drain the seeping water, pump it out of your basement and keep things nice and dry – the way they should be!
What’s involved with the installation process?
We can install the drainage system around the foundation of your home in 2 ways…
• We can excavate a trench around the exterior perimeter (positive side) of your basement or
crawl space foundation wall down to the footing, install the French or perimeter drain around
the exposed foundation wall just above the footing – then we’d carefully backfill the trench to
its original level.
• We can remove a section of the concrete slab floor around the interior perimeter (negative side) of
your basement or crawl space foundation wall, excavate the rubble underneath down to the
footing, install the French or perimeter drain just to the inside edge/face of the footing – then
we’d backfill the excavation to its original level,and repair the floor with new concrete.
We like to call it our ‘sandwich method…’
For both options above we use a special system of fabric layering. Think of it as kinda like your good ole’ Jersey hoagie! Just as a hoagie roll protects all the goodies inside, our filtration fabric protects those French drain goodies, keeps ‘em in place and ensures the drains will function as they should for years to come.
Whether it’s in an interior and exterior perimeter drain solution, as water collects in the drain over time – your sump pump will pull the water out of the drain – pumping it up, out, and away from the foundation of your home.
‘Experience’ is life’s way of educating you…
If you read our last blog (about the problems Gram had with her basement flooding) you know in these kinds of situations ‘getting around to it later’ isn’t a great option. Take it from the South Jersey water intrusion professionals – we’ve seen too many people put off dealing with water intrusion issues – especially in the basement – for way too long!
You don’t want to have the same problems Gram had… right?!
If you suspect you’ve got a problem – get it taken care of sooner than later.
Check out our hand-drawn basement diagrams (below) to see how these drains work…
Click on either of these images for full-sized, printable versions
(because these files are a bit large, it could take 30-45 seconds for them to appear)