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All posts by Matt Taylor

Basement Waterproofing: Is your basement safe?

Like most homeowners, especially if you have children, your basement is a busy place. You have a rec room there, or an entertainment center or a lot of storage or, your laundry room. Family members are down there for hours at a time and visitors may also be spending time there watching the game or playing pool. You may have a family member who lives there.

So, since you spend some time down there, you need to know of possible hazards in your basement. Watch out for the following: 

  1. Poor ventilation: If I’ve smelled it once, I’ve smelled it a thousand times when I go to work on a customer’s basement: a stuffy, musty smell. This is because the basement has very poor ventilation. This odor may cause asthma attacks and other upper respiratory issues for anyone who spends a fair amount of time in the basement.
  2. Chemicals being stored: Basements are places where we typically store paints, glues, thinners, and other volatile chemicals. These cans may not be closed completely, which means toxic substances will be released into the air. Exposure to these toxicities may cause serious health problems such as asthma, migraines, obesity, diabetes, thyroid issues, immune disorders and, even, cancer. *** 
  3. The dryer that is not vented: Your clothes dryer should run a vent pipe to the outside of the house. Unfortunately, and I have seen it, too, many homeowners have a dryer that only catches lint while recirculating warm air into the basement. The exhaust and chemicals from laundry detergent and other cleaning agents are sent into the basement air which can cause respiratory and vision problems. Basements are damp, which is precisely the environment in which mold thrives. Mold spores shot into the air from mold and mildew can lead to persistent coughing, excessive sneezing, runny nose, and dry, itchy skin.
  4. Gases from the sewer: Your sewer line may have come into your basement through the floor drain. Typically, the sewer trap dries out, allowing sewer gases to enter the basement. This is methane, which is quite toxic and is very unhealthy (not to mention noxious).
  5. Mosquitos and other pest infestations: Basements may also have pools of water in the floor, at the corners, or at the bottom of cracks in the wall. During the warmer months, these may attract mosquitos, carpenter bees, and other destructive pests. 
  6. Carbon Monoxide: Another popular feature that I’ve seen in many basements in Central Maryland, where we are based, is fuel-fired furnaces. If there is improper ventilation, these furnaces will release carbon monoxide. This is a major fire hazard. However, more importantly, carbon monoxide moves upward, into the home and may cause dizziness, headaches, and even death. Your furnace should be inspected once a year. Carbon monoxide detectors could also be installed in the basement and around the floors above it. 

As I tell my customers, your basement is a hotbed of activity, good and bad. If you are experiencing any of the above problems, contact a basement waterproofing contractor and have them complete a thorough inspection of your home. It may cost a few dollars, but your health and that of your loved ones is priceless. Keep it a safe place for everyone!

M Taylor Enterprise can inspect your home foundation to see if you have any basement waterproofing issues. Call our home foundation and structural repair experts in Maryland at (301) 649-3406 or matt@mtaylorenterprise.comWe will do a free consultation, make recommendations then do any needed repairs done quickly and efficiently. We serve the Montgomery County, parts of Prince Georges and Howard Counties.

*** For more information on mold and the health issues caused by it, visit the Functional Medical Institute website

What Makes Helical Piers the Best Solution for Your Home Foundation?

We hear from a lot of home foundation repair customers who have experienced ice, snow, and now, heat, in Central Maryland. Their foundations have settled and this weather has done damage to it. 

Taking care of your home’s structural integrity is important. It is your largest property investment. 

Helical Piers, also known as screw piles or anchors, are vertical metal rods inserted in the ground then attached to your house’s slab. They add strength and stability to your home foundation.

There are several benefits to having helical piers installed in your home:

  1. Easy to install: Using a hydraulic torque, helical piers are easily installed in just a few hours. 
  2. Versatile: Helical piers are installed vertically but can be installed horizontally, too. They are convenient as they can be installed in spaces that are limited. 
  3. Immediate results: Once helical piers have been installed, they can begin bearing weight. If you have a home under construction, you can begin framing right away. 
  4. New or existing homes can use them: As mentioned above if you have a home under construction you can install helical piers as you are building. Or, if you have an older home it can be installed. The age or type of home doesn’t matter!
  5.  Save money: Concrete installation is quite expensive. A contractor has to mix the concrete, dig out the ground, lay the concrete, and then clean up the debris. However, when a home foundation contractor installs a helical pier, it takes only a few hours, and it’s set up and bearing the weight!
  6. Environmentally-friendly: The advantages even stretch to being environmentally friendly! There is no soil removal or extensive landscaping. It is quiet and there are very few vibrations. Helical piers can even be recycled. 

Keep your house and investment safe! So, whether you are buying a home or improving the one you own now, helical piers are the smart, economical, and efficient way to improve your home’s foundation.  

M Taylor Enterprise installs both helical piers and helical tiebacks.  Call our experienced engineers for a consultation. We will analyze your home foundation issue and efficiently repair it. Call (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com. We serve the Prince George’s, Howard, and Montgomery County, MD area.

 

Basement Waterproofing Issues: The Main Causes of Water Seepage

The rains have begun! 

Spring has just arrived but we have already had our share of rain in Montgomery County, Maryland. Rain can cause a lot of damage to your home, especially if you have a basement. *** 

Water seepage is the most common problem for homes with a basement. Water seepage can severely damage your home, lead to mold, and, finally but most importantly, can cause serious health issues for you and your family.    

So, if you are seeing cracks in your basement walls or foundation, you are having water seepage into your basement. Here are the signs:

  1. Water in the soil: When rainwater enters the ground, the soil expands and creates hydrostatic pressure. This forces the water to leak into the basement and other locations in your home. This water comes from heavy rain and mixes with the water that is already around your home. As we have discussed in previous blogs, there needs to be proper drainage and grading around your home.
  2. Seepage: Mold develops if the water around the foundation remains for a long time. Mold can be harmful as it will infect the air quality of your home.
  3. Foundation leaks: The home’s concrete walls may develop cracks from the shifting soils. Water will then seep through the basement foundation walls. 
  4. Water damage: Water leaks from a furnace or pools of water on your floors can do extensive interior structural damage.
  5. Structural damage: Water can also do extensive damage to your basement. It can even get into the studs. 
  6. Window leaks: Water pools in the window wells of your basement windows. If it isn’t drained, the water cannot go anywhere. It will eventually run into your home. So, check your window wells, yearly, to make sure there is proper drainage and water cannot gather there. There should be no cracks in the glass and the seals.
  7. Floor cracks: Water can also seep through the basement floor. Excessive water can then stain hardwood floors or ruin the carpet. 
  8. Gaps in floor and footing: Water can also seep into the gap between the footing, the wall, and the concrete floor. Even though they are sealed, basements still shift over time. All that shifting creates openings where seepage can occur. 
  9. Poor drainage: Check to see that the downspouts are running away from the house. Also, verify that your foundation has proper grading. These will keep water out of the soil around your home and reduce the water pressure. 

This spring is a good time to have your foundation checked for seepage. Don’t let the Maryland rains destroy your biggest investment!

M Taylor Enterprise can inspect your home foundation to see if you have any basement waterproofing issues. Call our home foundation and structural repair experts in Maryland at (301) 649-3406 or matt@mtaylorenterprise.comWe will do a free consultation, make recommendations then do any needed repairs done quickly and efficiently. We serve the Montgomery County, parts of Prince Georges and Howard Counties.

 *** Visit the Current Results website for more information on the Maryland Rain Tables.

Egress Windows and Your Family’s Safety

We have been hearing a lot about safety in the Age of COVID. Everyone is wearing masks and keeping a social distance from each other. It’s been a difficult adjustment for all of us.

There is another way you and your family can remain safe. We covered some of the essential aspects of Egress windows in a previous blog

Egress windows are a seemingly unknown feature of most homes. The International Residence Code (2012) requires an egress in basement level living spaces. This code is essential in keeping you and your family safe. 

Egress windows have two main purposes: 

  1. Allow an exit in the event of an emergency. 
  2. Provide an entrance for firefighters.

They are required in all habitable places in the home. Especially for rooms which are used for sleeping purposes. If there is no egress, these habitable rooms become a dangerous fire trap. Basements that have bedrooms, fitness rooms, recreation rooms, media rooms, or home offices, are required to have egress windows.

Homeowners who are remodeling or renovating are also required to install egress windows for safety. No egress window means that the homeowner is unknowingly putting them and their family at risk.

The egress window requirements were developed for the average, able-bodied person, to be able to fit through the window and lift themselves up, and out the window. Maryland law only requires the minimum (Window wells are Egress window wells are required where the bottom of the egress window is below ground level. It must not interfere with the egress window fully opening and the distance from the egress window to the back must be 36”.) Check with your building inspector for code requirements. 

Fifty-one people died in residential fires in 2020. That statistic is lower than in previous years. Let’s lower it, even more, this year. 

M Taylor Enterprise has installed many Egress windows in the Montgomery County, Maryland area. We can install them efficiently and quickly.  Contact us at (301) 649-3406 or at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com for a free consultation.

 

 

Home Drainage Systems: Six Reasons for Winter Maintenance

It’s January and the icy cold temperatures have descended on Maryland, as it does every winter. With the exception of a few warm days, we are getting hit hard by below-freezing temperatures, especially at night. 

Your home foundation is feeling it, too. With every increase above freezing, and then the drop below freezing, your home foundation is expanding and contracting. And that’s okay, as it is built to withstand very cold and very hot climates. 

However, all may not be well with your home drainage system that redirects water away from your home foundation. Your frozen pipe or drain is located outside, but most water damage occurs inside your home. So, the consequences may be tons of flowing to where it shouldn’t and causing major damage to your home which may also cause a major hit to your checking account. 

Just one night of frozen temperatures may cause havoc with your home drainage system. So, in order to avoid your pipes cracking and then flooding into your home, here are six ways you can maintain your home drainage systems this winter: 

  1. Never turn your heat off: You will save money on your heating bills and prevent ice from cracking your pipes by just maintaining a steady temperature (70-75 degrees) in your home during the winter. Never, ever turn your heat off during the winter even if you are not home for days or weeks at a time. 
  2. Clear the drain gates: Remove the leaves, dirt, branches, and other debris from the outside grates so they won’t freeze and block the drains. 
  3. Repair the leaks: Check out the pipes and see if they are still running. If you see leaks, you can patch them up using DIY patch kits you can find online and repair the cracks. If there are leaks, you may be able to patch them yourself using one of the DIY patch kits on the market. Unless it is a pipe leak from your heating system or main water supply. You should contact your home foundation repair contractor to get that repaired. 
  4. Wrap insulation around the pipes: Some pipes may not drain for the winter as they are still being used. So, wrap insulation around them. It will reduce your power bill as it protects your pipes from freezing. You can find circular insulation products at your local hardware or department store. Inspect your home foundation and see if there is any exposed piping. 
  5. Inspect for gaps and airflow: There may be a space between a pipe or drain and the wall. This may bring cold air in and freeze the pipes. Add wood or plastic insulation but don’t do this for vents connected to your heating system.
  6. Call a home drainage system contractor: If you are concerned about the cracks you have found or would like an inspection, call your local home drainage professional. They can give you a consultation with recommendations.

Maryland’s freezing weather can cause serious and costly damage to your home drainage system. So, if you see any signs of cracking in your pipes, call your home foundation contractor for a consultation.

M Taylor Enterprise home foundation repair contractors can do a consultation in Prince George, Montgomery County, and Howard County, MD area. If you have seen any of these cracks in your home foundation, call our home foundation and structural repair experts in Maryland at (301) 649-3406 or matt@mtaylorenterprise.com. We will do a free consultation, make recommendations then do any needed repairs done quickly and efficiently. 

 

   

Home Foundation Repair: Types of Foundation Cracks

Not all cracks in your foundation are alike.

In fact, the break in the fabric of your home foundation may indicate the type and severity of the problem. It deserves investigation.

Here are the types of cracks in the home foundation: 

  1. Stair foundation cracks: If you have a brick foundation, you may see a diagonal crack (45-degree angle) that resembles stairs. This occurs when the brick is pulled apart by the foundation. If you have a brick façade, you may see the same type of split as the façade is attached to the splitting foundation.
  2. Vertical foundation cracks: These are the ones we see most often in the DMV area. It is a crack that is gradually widening. It may even resemble a spider web with many little vertical cracks. This is a sign that your home foundation is slowly crumbling. This may mean that the soil under your home is shifting. It may also indicate that the section of the home is being pushed up and away from the foundation. This movement creates a breach and can be quite serious. 
  3. Horizontal foundation cracks: When the soil shifts under the home foundation, a horizontal crack may appear. It may also be that there are several different types of soil under the home. Once one part of the soil shifts, it then causes the shifting movement in the other soils. This stress reverberates through the foundation shearing the foundation horizontally. One horizontal crack may mean that the soil is tearing the bottom part of the foundation from the upper part of the foundation. If there are several horizontal foundation cracks, this may indicate that soil is pushing in following the expansion. 

If you have seen any of these cracks on your home foundation, they cannot be ignored. As we have discussed in past blogs, you will see all the telltale signs, and the longer you wait, the more expensive and extensive the repairs will be to your home foundation.  

M Taylor Enterprise home foundation repair contractors can do a consultation in Prince George and Silver Spring, MD area. If you have seen any of these cracks in your home foundation, call our home foundation and structural repair experts in Maryland at (301) 649-3406 or matt@mtaylorenterprise.com. We will do a free consultation, make recommendations then do any needed repairs done quickly and efficiently. 

Basement Waterproofing: Which of the Top 3 Methods Do I Need?

You have seen all the signs and now you are ready to call the basement waterproofing contractor and get it done! It’s a great Christmas gift that will give back every day you live in the home. 

However, not all basements are the same. So, your contractor will have to choose one of the three methods. They may be exterior or interior. 

  1. Downspout and window well improvement: Window wells are quite important. Without them, your basement windows would decay quickly and the basement would be even darker. Wells can also get clogged with leaves, branches, and other debris. When this happens, rainwater leaks into the basement, causing water damage and flooding. If they are maintained properly, window wells can prevent windows from rusting and rotting. The water drainage issues can be resolved by either adding a window enclosure or by repairing the grading around the foundation so that water flows away from the house.
  2. A full excavation around the perimeter of the house then waterproof from the outside. Waterproofing around the exterior involves excavating the perimeter of the house then installing a waterproof membrane around the foundation. This will seal out the moisture so the concrete doesn’t absorb it, crack it and leak. A French drain can then be installed. Drain tiles are then inserted in the trench around the home. That is covered with gravel and soil. Water is carried away from the foundation and never even has a chance to enter the basement. 
  3. Installation of an interior drainage system with a sump pump. Interior waterproofing is crucial as it sends any water that leaks into the basement out and away from the home foundation. Homes have an interior drainage system made up of pipes and drains that catch leaks. Excess water flows to a “sump pit”. This basin stores water in your basement. The sump pump, inside the sump pit, pumps water out of the basement and away from the home foundation. Sump pumps are triggered when it reaches a certain level of water. They typically have a battery backup so it works even when the power it off. 

Winter will be here soon, but it isn’t too late to have any of these basement waterproofing improvements made to your home. Call your local basement waterproofing contractor for an inspection, analysis, and estimate. 

M Taylor Enterprise basement waterproofing contractors can do a consultation in Montgomery County, MD, and Prince Georges County, MD area. If your basement has water damage or is leaking, call our home foundation and structural repair experts in Maryland at (301) 649-3406 or matt@mtaylorenterprise.comWe will do a free consultation, make recommendations then do any needed repairs done quickly and efficiently. 

Home Foundation Repair: The Disastrous Consequences of Delaying Repair

“You may delay, but time will not.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Old Ben was right. You can procrastinate when it comes to doing much-needed home foundation repairs, but it is only delaying the inevitable, and, the “inevitable” can be costly-very costly. 

Your home is your largest financial investment. It costs more than an education, a car, or the nicest vacation. You must take care of it.

But, just to drive the point home, here are some of the disastrous consequences of delaying foundation repair on your home:

  1. Mold and mildew spreading: Mold and mildew are dangerous to your health. Spores can cause allergy attacks and make family members and guests sick and miserable. It may also spur major lung and respiratory issues.
  2. Higher utility bills: Home foundation damage and cracks can send moisture from the basement to the upper living spaces in the home. This moisture may cause cracking, warps, bowing and separations to form in the other places in your home. Humid air is pulled toward your crawl space thus making the air conditioner or heating unit work harder and longer to make your home more comfortable. Higher utility bills ensue.
  3. Property values decreasing: A damaged and the deteriorating foundation is going to cost somewhere down the line. Once a home inspector does a report, the prospective buyer won’t do it unless the foundation is satisfactorily repaired. If it isn’t repaired, the sale of the home won’t happen. It is a definite deal-breaker.
  4. Plumbing issues: Water pipes are below the foundation and susceptible to damage when the foundation expands or contracts. A home foundation repair contractor can fix them though it is an expensive repair as they are difficult to get to. Additionally, the water pipes also shift when the foundation moves, causing water damage. The plumber fees begin adding up from this type of damage. 
  5. Insect damaging the structure: Insects love dark, wet locations. They especially love basements. Termites, mosquitos, carpenter bees and other pests move from the crawl space to the kitchen, bedrooms and other places within the home. Pest control fees may soar from this infestation.
  6. Structural damage continuing: We’ve covered this before: when your home foundation goes, so goes the rest of the house. You name it, it is affected: Walls, ceilings, floors, window frames, even attached garages are affected! 
  7. Water damaging more of your home: Frame structures can have major structural damage due to water seeping into the home as cracks appear in basement walls. Crawl spaces can also be full of water. Property stored in the basement may also be damaged. If you have someone living in the basement, they are also subject to health issues from the water leaks.
  8. Getting frustrated trying to find a home foundation contractor: When you decide to get your home foundation repaired, finding a contractor to do it in the DMV/Washington D.C. Beltway area may be a daunting challenge. Foundation companies may not be available to do the work quickly, especially during the spring rainy season. *** (Though we at M. Taylor Enterprise should be able to book you for work.)

Just one of the above issues is bad enough but any combination could be a financial, and emotional, disaster! If you have any of these structural issues, call your local, licensed home foundation repair contractor immediately and get it fixed.  

M Taylor Enterprise basement waterproofing contractors can do a consultation in Prince George and Silver Spring, MD area. If you have seen any of these red flags in your home, call our home foundation and structural repair experts in Maryland at (301) 649-3406 or matt@mtaylorenterprise.com. We will do a free consultation, make recommendations then do any needed repairs done quickly and efficiently

*** More about the spring weather at this link.

Home Foundation Repair: Factors to Consider When Choosing a Contractor

On a beautiful fall day here in Central Maryland, you walked around your home and noticed the unthinkable: cracks on its foundation.

Now, you have to make a decision. Do you let it go for now and do it next spring knowing that it may get worse and cost more to repair? Or, do you take it on now and get those cracks repaired?

Of course, we would advise that you not put this off. Foundation cracks can get worse over time and cause repairs to be even more costly. 

So, whether you get your home foundation repairs done now or later, we have some tips when hiring a home foundation repair contractor: 

  1. Always verify their MHIC (Maryland Home Improvement Commission) Number: It is a crime to act as a home improvement contractor in Maryland without an MHIC License. *** Be sure that your home foundation repair contractor has this license.  An unlicensed home improvement contractor may also have an invalid or no MHIC number posted on the side of their vehicle. Be sure to check with the MHIC to see if their MHIC license number is valid and is issued to that contractor.
  2. Ask for a Certificate of Insurance: A COI show that they have liability insurance and can work on your home. If they don’t have liability insurance then you become liable for their work. All the risk is assumed by the client. Some homeowner’s policies will not cover that risk exposure. Have them show you their liability insurance policy and verify that it covers all of their employees working on your home. 
  3. Request 2-3 referrals: Any licensed contractor with experience should have a portfolio and a list of happy clients that have had similar work done. Ask them to give you two or three referrals. Call them and ask about their experience, quality of work, etc. Also, seek referrals from online websites such as BBB, Yelp, and Home Advisor. If they cannot supply any referrals, look elsewhere!
  4. Verify if the contractor’s crew is theirs or a labor pool service: Your contractor should have their own work crew not a rag-tag group of labor. They should be professionals who have worked on other houses for the contractor. 
  5. Only put 1/3 down for the project: Don’t pay for half of all of the projects upfront! Instead, pay 1/3 which should cover the building materials to start the work. 
  6. Get Three (3) Bids: The lowest bid may not be the best one. A reputable contractor may cost more, however, the work pace will likely flow better and the results may be what you expected or better.
  7. COVID Protections: Though most of the foundation work will be done outside, make sure that the contractor is abiding by all local, state, and federal COVID-19 protections. They should wear masks and keep a social distance. Plus, they should be wearing foot covers when entering your home. (Regulations may vary depending on location.) 

Your home foundation repair is a major project, so get the licensed, qualified, and most experienced contractor in your area. It will be worth the time and effort.  

Should you notice any home foundation issues, call a professional, licensed home foundation repair contractor. M Taylor Enterprise is an experienced and licensed home repair foundation contractor. We can inspect, analyze, and repair your home foundation correctly and efficiently.   We serve the counties of Prince George and Silver Spring, MD area. Call us for a consultation at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.    

*** For more about the MHIC, click here

 

Four Ways to Tell if Your Drainage Systems Were Damaged After a Heavy Rain

Maryland has been hit with several major rainstorms this summer. Besides scaring us to death and knocking out the power, these storms have also caused millions of dollars in water damage. 

Additionally, Hurricane Isaias brought trees down, road closures, and flooding. *** Water has damaged thousands of homes in Maryland and on the East Coast. 

Your home may be experiencing the effects of the storms and hurricane, too. Here are four ways to tell if your drainage systems were damaged:

  1. Pipes bursting and cracking: It’s not hard to tell if your pipes are bursting or cracking as you will notice it when you turn on the faucet. Your water will be dark. The water will taste awful-like copper. Typically, rainwater pools up in the pipes and causes them to break. So, the freshwater will have soil, soot, and other bacteria in it. 
  2. Flooding: Heavy rains like the ones we have had, cause water to accumulate in the yard. The water has nowhere to go if there isn’t any proper drainage, so it begins to flood your basement, driveway, sidewalk, or porch. This severe water damage then causes these spaces around your home to be weakened. Before it causes any more damage, the correct drainage should be installed.
  3. Sewage backup: One of the grossest results of a deluge or two of rain is what it does to your sewer line. The heavy rain builds up debris in the outdoor drains which clog the pipes. If the sewer line that runs to your home is blocked, the wastewater accumulates in the clogged drains. Eventually, the pipes may burst or crack sending all of it into your home or onto the ground.
  4. Indoor drains blocked or clogged: Water pools in your shower, bathtub, sink, or other drains. This is caused by the heavy rains bringing in debris like soil, trash, branches, leaves, sticks, and even bugs. All of this junk clogs up your drainage systems which back up the entire drainage. 

These storms can wreak serious damage to your home drainage systems. If you see any of these signs, call your experienced home foundation repair contractor to get it fixed. When the next heavy rain hits, and it will, you will be ready. The longer you delay, the more these clogs and cracks to your pipes will cause damage. Usually, a home foundation contractor can assess the damage and repair the drainage systems fairly quickly.     

M Taylor Enterprise basement waterproofing contractors can do a consultation in Prince George and Silver Spring, MD area. If you have seen any of these red flags in your home, call our home foundation and structural repair experts in Maryland at (301) 649-3406 or matt@mtaylorenterprise.com. We will do a free consultation, make recommendations then do any needed repairs done quickly and efficiently. 

** See reports of Maryland rain and hurricane damage here.