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All posts by Matt Taylor

Proper Grading around the house to prevent basement flooding

Keeping your basement dry during the winter months, even as snow, ice, and rain slam Central Maryland, can be a challenge. *** You want to keep all of that drainage from pooling around your home foundation and leaking into your basement.

So, here are some tips for proper grading around your home foundation so you won’t fear those coming storms this winter: 

  1. Create trenches and French Drains: One way is to have a dry creek bed in the middle of the yard filled with river rock and sloping away from the house. Some new homes have French Drains or perimeter drains installed. These trenches run along the perimeter of the home foundation and are lined with tile and rock. These trenches and drains work great to direct the water flow away from the house, usually with PVC pipe, that lower the water table. Installing a drainage system, however, is not a simple project. A small part of the yard must be dug up before the system is installed. A home foundation contractor is highly recommended to do this task.
  2. Rain Barrels: These stop water from seeping into the home foundation. They also allow you to water the garden or lawn without turning on the water hose. The barrels have to be emptied fairly often, depending on how much snow and rain we get. Rain barrels have a spigot, so they can be connected to a hose to divert the water away from the house. 
  3. Check the downspouts: Often, a home’s downspouts can get pushed askew. However, if the spouts are not directed, the water will pool close to the home foundation. Downspouts need to be repositioned and also have a drainage area where the downspouts flow. The downspouts need to be filled with gravel or river rock. The rocks slow the water absorption into the ground.
  4. Clean the gutters: Begin this year by cleaning your gutters. During the fall, gutters may back up with leaves, dirt, branches, dead animals, and other debris. Soon, they spill over, sending water down to the pool along the foundation. Many homeowners clean their gutters using a ladder and a vacuum. Climbing a ladder, however, may seem like a scary idea so, have a gutter cleaning company do it. It typically takes a couple of hours and costs a few hundred dollars for an average home. 
  5. New perimeter grading around the footprint of the house: Redirecting the downspout extension pipes away from the house is important. A clay-based soil sheds water best.
  6. Plant a Rain Garden: It’s winter as I write this blog, so you may want to wait until spring to do this one. Rain gardens are lower areas of the yard that allow water to run off the lawn and away from the foundation. They are typically planted toward the edge, between the yard and the street. Low-maintenance plants will control erosion and slow how much water is absorbed into the ground. 

Some of these modifications you can do on your own. A few others may require professionals to install or clean. Now is the time to get it done before the next snowstorm or heavy rain so you can protect your home and save on expensive home foundation repairs and basement cleanup.

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.com. We 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 Maryland weather, visit the Weather Atlas website

An Inspection Checklist for Your Home Foundation for 2022

Christmas is only a few days away. You have probably used a checklist for the presents you want to get or have gotten already.

But, when it comes to your home foundation, have you created an inspection checklist? Leave it to the home foundation repair contractor to think of that! 

Anyway, as the New Year arrives, it’s a good time to take fifteen minutes out of your day off to inspect your home foundation. Here are some things you should look for:

  1. Walk around the exterior of your home: Inspect the foundation walls by looking up and down from one end. See if any areas bulge or lean. This may indicate an uneven load on the foundation as both the foundation walls and home walls should be flush and level. See if there are any water stains or cracks in the concrete. Pools of water can cause the soil to shift and wood to rot. This means that there may be broken pipes in the home. Horizontal cracks also may indicate stress on the foundation. 
  2. Walk around the interior of your home: Inspect for any cracks or separations. Look for bulges in the walls. See if any walls are leaning or if they are out of place due to shifting foundations. See if the floors are sloping over the length of the home when there are larger soil shifts. Roll a tennis ball or basketball to see if it rolls when placed on the floor.
  3. Inspect doors and windows: If they open and close without a struggle, you should be okay. If your home foundation is shifting, windows and doors will often begin to have difficulty opening or closing. They will jam shut or cannot be opened. 
  4. Inspect your water pipes: Check the pipes inside and outside your home for leaks and moisture. 
  5. Look at the home foundation: Inspect closely the concrete, or helical piers should not be unstable. Make sure they are level, not buckling and in good condition. Look for rust, which shows that there is moisture in the basement or crawl space. 

If you have found cracks, stains or moisture, you may have a home foundation problem. Consult with a home foundation repair contractor right away. Failure to do so now, may cost your much more in the near future. Make the New Year Resolution to repair your home foundation to protect your family and 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.com. We will do a free consultation, make recommendations then do any needed repairs done quickly and efficiently. We serve Montgomery County, parts of Prince Georges and Howard Counties.

Concrete Repair 101: How you repair a concrete home foundation

As we have discussed in this blog many times, it is common to have structural damage in your home’s foundation. *** It may be an older home or a newer home. It doesn’t matter as damage from aging, weather or even poor workmanship can occur and the need to repair the concrete is immediate to protect it from further damage. 

So, if you see cracks in the interior or exterior walls, you have home foundation damage. Other signs include uneven floors in the garage or basement. Windows that do open or close properly or there are gaps between the doors and door frames. (This includes garage doors.)

We have several methods to repair your concrete home foundation. Those methods include:

  1. Helical  pier underpinning 

  2. Carbon fiber straps

  3. House Underpinning: with  concrete

  4. Steel pilaster bracing

One or all of these concrete home foundation repairs can be made. It depends on what your home foundation repair contractor recommends based on the construction of your home, total concrete damage, and type of soil. We recommend you call a licensed, experienced home foundation repair contractor for a thorough consultation.

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.com. We 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.

*** Please refer to an earlier blog about home foundation repair here

 

All Clogged Up: How gutters affect your basement waterproofing

It’s fall and the big question is: Have you cleaned your gutters, yet?

If you said ‘no’, and you have a basement, then this blog is for you. Even though gutters may be overlooked when homeowners think about maintenance, they should actually be on the priority list!

Gutters catch water and rain and send it to a downspout and away from your home. They serve a purpose in keeping water from collecting and ponding around your home foundation.

Unfortunately, gutters can also be a catch-all for debris and other items. Leaves, nuts, branches, and dead animals (birds, mice, squirrels, etc.) clog gutters this time of year. If you have trees near your home, you have double the risk of your gutters getting clogged.

So, when gutters get clogged, rainwater pools around the home’s foundation. If this is not corrected, several things may occur:

  1. Water seeps into the basement, causing mold to grow.
  2. The soil around the foundation erodes and causes the foundation to settle.
  3. The home foundation begins cracking and bowing.

You can avoid costly home foundation repairs by doing the following:

  1. Clean the gutters: Get a ladder and reach into the gutters and clean them out.
  2. Add a gutter guard or similar block over your gutters. These will keep debris and leaves out of your gutter. Guards block the gutters and keep them clean year-round. They should, however, be cleaned at least twice a year.
  3. Hire a professional gutter cleaner. Gutter cleaning can be dangerous as you have to climb a ladder and do the work in precarious spots around the house. Instead, have a professional gutter cleaning company clean your gutters. They not only clean the gutters, but they blow them dry and replace the gutter guards if you have them.
  4. Seal the gutter leaks: Once your gutters have been cleaned, examine them for small holes or leaks. If you find any leaks or holes, seal them with a special gutter caulking compound. Popular compounds such as butyl rubber caulk are used. Spread the caulking compound evenly over any holes or leaks using a butter knife.
  5. Direct water runoff away from your home foundation: Have a roofing contractor examine your roof to see if water is collecting there and then leaking into your foundation.
  6. Repair the clogged downspouts: Check the bottom of your downspout and make sure it isn’t blocked. If it is blocked, you may be able to use a leaf blower or wet-dry vacuum to blow it out. If you are not sure how to do this effectively, have a professional do it for you.

Fall is here, and leaves are falling heavy now in Central Maryland. So, clean your gutters now before they get too clogged and cause damage to your home’s foundation. Save money and stress!

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.com. We 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.

Is Your Home Drainage System Effective?

Every home has a drainage system. Some are effective and keep the water away from the foundation. Others, however, are ineffective and causing great damage to the home foundation. 

There are several tried-and-true methods to ensure proper water drainage around your home. These tips should stop ponds from forming and keep home foundation damaging water away. 

  1. Here are several tips on installing a proper water drainage system, so your home is protected during any season of the year. Find out where the excess water is originating. Poor drainage will eventually form ponds around your home. This occurs when there is no place for the excess water to drain into. Maryland gets an average of 44 inches a year of precipitation, with most of the rain occurring during July and August. We get an average of 20 inches of snow. *** So, we have almost sixty-four (64) inches of snow/rain yearly. That is a fair amount of water. Additionally, a damaged or broken pipe may flood your yard.
  2. Survey the land closest to your home. See how it is laid out by finding the high and low parts of your yard. The drains will have to be placed at the lowest sections of your yard. If there is a low point, one needs to be dug. The water will drain then and no ponds will be created. You can also level the high sections of your yard.
  3. Prepare the soil for drainage. Central Maryland has clay soil. Clay becomes tough and solid over time which makes it perfect for excess water runoff. It’s also harder to dig up, as you have probably found out.
  4. Determine Your Drain Layout. In order to reroute the water drainage from getting into your home and into the foundation, you may need to install one of the following: French Drain, gravel trench, drainage pipe, or an open ditch. You may not be sure which one is the best (and least costly). You may need to install one in the front and back yard, depending on the number of acres that you have. If you are not sure, consult a home foundation and water drainage, expert. (See #5.)
  5. Get an Expert Involved. Even though you have done the surveying of your land and home, you are probably not an expert in installing home drainage systems. Now is the time to find an experienced, home foundation repair and home drainage contractor in the Central Maryland area. You may even need to get several bids on the work before you make a decision.

This is a good time of year, if you live in Central Maryland, to check the land around your home. If you are concerned with what you have found, call a home foundation repair expert in your area. 

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.com. We 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 Maryland precipitation, visit the state website.  

How Helical Pier Technology Can Be Environmentally Friendly

As we have covered in a previous blog, helical piers are galvanized steel shafts with helical plates. Helical piers are used, mainly, to strengthen damaged or weakened home foundations. They are vertically installed by a home foundation repair contractor. Installation is done fairly quickly, usually within a few hours.

What is not generally known is that helical piers are good for the environment. Here are a few reasons:

  1. Home foundation repair contractors use hydraulics to screw the piers into place, instead of digging deep into the ground around the foundation.
  2. Quick installation also means that there is little need, if any, to dampen the construction vibration.
  3. Soil does not have to be broken to install them.
  4. They are made of galvanized steel, so they do not rust.
  5. They can be removed easily, without any harm to the environment.
  6. No heavy machinery is needed for installation. So there is no fleet of trucks using fuel or expelling exhaust.
  7. Screw piles can be installed, and left in place for many years. Then they are removed and reused at another site. So, there is little impact on the original location. 
  8. They are very easy to transport and install. So, they save money for architects, contractors, structural engineers, and builders. Les people are visiting the site. 
  9. There is less of a mess and project cleanup. So, there is less refuse going to public dumps that will sit there for many years.
  10.  No maintenance or upkeep is required. So, fewer visits to the home to check on it means less fuel used. 
  11.  Helical piers are also reusable, recyclable, and transferable. 

As you can see, not only are helical piers efficient, durable, and cost-effective, they are good for the environment. If you think your home foundation is in need of repair, call a repair contractor to do an inspection and analysis. As we have said, it is better to get it repaired now than later, at a higher cost. 

If you being kind to the environment is important to you, helical piers accomplish that goal!  

When getting your home foundation repaired, make sure you get a home foundation repair contractor who can do it accurately. When helical piers are properly installed, handheld equipment is used. This allows the customer to see the amount of resistance and torque that is being used. It also shows when to stop the digging. 

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.

Cracking, Pooling and Sinking: The Common Signs That You Need Home Foundation Repair

It’s summertime and the heat and humidity in Central Maryland is stifling. It can cause dry skin and even crack it if not taken care of immediately. 

Unfortunately, it’s not only our skin that can have cracks in it. Our home foundation can have cracks, lines, and other deterioration that are not always spotted. We may not even think about it.

In fact, there are several common signs or red flags that you need concrete foundation repair. Those signs may include:

  1. Aging: foundation shows wear and tear over the years. That wear and tear are often evidenced by, cracks, settlement, bowing, unevenness, and pooling water. . Uneven or unbalanced appearance: One obvious sign that you will notice is that your walls will be uneven. Extremes of wet/dry weather can do this to your foundation. They may seem to be unbalanced. Even worse, the walls may be breaking and crumbling, which can cause injuries and property damage. 
  2. Cracks appearing in the foundation: As we have discussed in past blogs when you see cracks in your home foundation, that is probably due to the soil expanding due to extremes in weather (heat and cold). Steady rain, dry conditions, and ice buildup cause home foundations to contract and expand. Cracks will be evident in floors and walls.
  3. Water pooling:After steady rain, check the foundation areas of your home. If you see pooling in those areas, then there are problems with the home foundation. This happens due to water not draining away from the foundation. Even if the concrete had a waterproof coating, that coating may have worn off or was inadequate to start with. The foundation needs to be repaired and recoated.
  4. Wallpaper falling off the walls: Your wallpaper may have creases, tears, and water stains in it.
  5. Doors and windows not closing correctly or at all: As we have also discussed, your doors and windows are no longer aligned with the doorways or window frames. Thus, they are sticking when you try to open or close them.
  6. Sinking floors: A scary sign of foundation cracking is floors that are sinking.
  7. Floors that slope: Floors that slope more than an inch every 15-20 feet. 
If you have noticed any or all of these signs in your home, you are experiencing serious home foundation issues that need to be addressed immediately. Every day that it is not addressed, it will be even more costly to repair and you or your family members could be injured as a result. So, consult a home foundation repair contractor as soon as possible.

M Taylor Enterprise home foundation repair contractors can consult in Prince George, Montgomery County, and Howard County, MD. 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. 

Landscaping Tips That Will Protect Your Home Foundation

Your home foundation usually doesn’t become a topic of conversation until something bad (and expensive) happens to it. When it cracks or floods, you call us to assess it and repair it. 

While we appreciate your business, there are things you can do this summer that will save you a lot of stress and money. One of the ways to protect your home foundation is to do landscaping, the right way. 

Here are five landscaping tips that will help you protect your home foundation:

  1. Plant trees away from your home foundation: This sounds like it should be pretty obvious, but I have spoken with many clients who love trees and have planted them too close to the foundation. Soon, the roots grow and break through the foundation, causing costly damage. So, plant trees far away from the foundation. 
  2. Leave sections of the home foundation exposed. Too much moisture is also bad for the foundation. Leave some of it visible so it is not moist year-round. 
  3. Don’t cover drains and outlets. Keep all drains and outlets open. Avoid planting anything in front of it which will impede it from draining.
  4. Flower beds should slope away from the foundation. Check the grading of your landscaping. It should not have any water pooling around the foundation. A 9”-10” drop is recommended for the first ten feet around the home. This prevents moisture from accumulating under the home foundation (5% slope away from the foundation). Erosion will occur if there is no slope. 
  5. Water evenly in the areas that are not landscaped. Don’t focus on just one area of the land around the home for landscaping. The soil will eventually expand as it’s likely to be watered the most. As we have discussed in past blogs, expansion of the soil leads to cracks in the foundation. Watering the area around the home evenly will protect the home foundation from eroding from too much water or moisture. 

As you can see, landscaping is a crucial part of taking care of your home foundation. Keeping it from getting too much water or not enough water, is quite important to the health of your home foundation. It takes a few hours a month, but it may save you many heartaches and give a lot of your money to home foundation repair contractors like myself. 

M Taylor Enterprise home foundation repair contractors can consult in Prince George, Montgomery County, and Howard County, MD. 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: 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.