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When is a Licensed, Professional Structural Engineer Needed?

There are times in life when we need trusted advice of an experienced professional. It may be a physician, an accountant or a lawyer. We trust them as they are giving us unbiased, helpful advice to improve our health, finances or other important aspects of our lives. Their direction is crucial and we depend on it.

structural engineer M Taylor Enterprise

When it comes to our home and, specifically, our home foundation, we also depend on the experts to advise us on needed repairs. Most homeowners don’t even think about their home foundation until there is a disaster such as settling or even collapse.

The health of your home’s structure, as we have discussed in past blogs, is crucial to your family’s health. If there are cracks or settling that will affect the entire home, which in turn, may cause serious health problems for you and your family.

In some cases, your home foundation needs to be seen by a structural engineer. According to the Structural Engineers Association of California, structural engineers: is:

“…create drawings and specifications, perform calculations, review the work of other engineers, write reports and evaluations, and observe construction sites. A Professional Engineer’s license is required in order to practice Structural Engineering. Most practicing structural engineers design and analyze buildings, bridges, power plants, electrical towers, dams, and other large structures that are essential to life as we know it.”

Structural engineers will come to your home or business and analyze your structure. They know a lot about structural systems, foundation damage forensics, home foundation repair and residential foundation inspections. They should have a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering and, at least five years of guidance by a professional engineer prior before they are licensed. Their education along with a technical background make licensed structural engineers the most qualified to analyze a home foundation.

So, now that you know about structural engineers, the next big question is when should you bring in this “heavy hitter” to inspect your residential or business foundation? There are five signs of when your foundation needs a structural engineer:

  1. Termite, water, fire or wind damage: One of the most common reasons is from catastrophic damage caused by pests or natural disasters. These threaten the integrity of the foundation and can lead to costly repairs. A structural engineer can inspect the foundation and do a forensic investigation which will determine if there was a foundation issue before the event. This information is then used by the claims adjuster.
  2. Structural damage: You or your home repair contractor may have noticed cracks, water damage or other signs of structural damage. Damage may include bowing walls, windows, and doors that don’t close completely, cabinets that are askew, uneven floors or other issues we have covered in previous blogs.
  3. A new addition to the home (rooms, garage, etc.): Whenever a homeowner makes a major addition to their home, whether it be a garage, studio or even a pool, this can be considered a major change to the structure. A structural engineer can figure out if the home foundation’s integrity will be compromised by the new addition. They can confirm if the foundation is adequately reinforced and that it can carry the weight of the home’s structure.
  4. Buying or selling the home: You are about to make the largest transaction in your life when you purchase or sell a home. Should a home inspector report that there is a major structural problem, bring in a structural engineer to inspect the foundation. They may save the homeowner or buyer a large amount of money if it isn’t as bad as first reported.
  5. Building a new home: A structural engineer can look at your plans and property and determine if they are sound and best for their planned use.

As you can see, a licensed, experienced, professional structural engineer can be an invaluable asset in analyzing the home foundation. It is wise to get the structural engineer’s opinion along with the home repair contractor, home builder or home inspector.

M Taylor Enterprise, Montgomery County, Maryland, has licensed and experienced professional structural engineers and foundation repair specialists who can do a thorough review of your structure and make recommendations. Call us for a consultation at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.

 

Down and Dirty: Crawl Space Repair for Your Home

M Taylor Enterprise LogoOut of sight. Out of mind.

Nothing describes your home’s crawl space better. In fact, many homeowners don’t even know where their crawl space is located. It is so easy to overlook and forget.

Yet, in spite of being forgotten about, your home crawl space does some very important things, according to www.howstuffworks.com:

  • It gets the house up off the ground (especially important in damp or termite-prone areas).
  • It is a lot less expensive than a basement and comparable in price to a slab.
  • Ductwork and plumbing can run in the crawl space, meaning that they are easy to service and move over the lifetime of the house.

As you can see, your crawl space has important roles in the health of your home. And, like any other part of your home, it needs to be maintained and, occasionally, repaired.

So, here are some signs that your home’s crawl space needs to be repaired:

  1. Musty odors: Believe it or not, you should not have any musty smells coming from your crawl space. It should be clear of all those nasty odors. If you do have them, it probably means you have mold, moisture or water leak issues.
  2. Mold and mildew present: Speaking of mold and mildew, if you have it that means there is standing water in the crawl space. This mold will eventually spread to the rest of your home causing serious health issues. A licensed mold removal company should be dispatched promptly to remove the mold.
  3. Indoor humidity: When your crawl space has mold or mildew, it will cause the humidity levels in your home to be above normal. Soon, you will see mold and mildew on your walls, condensation on pipes, allergy-like symptoms and paint falling from walls.
  4. Pools of water in the crawl space:  Water standing in your crawl space means that pipes are leaking or there is insufficient drainage. This water eventually leads to a weakened foundation and development of mold and mildew. A vapor barrier may need to be installed.
  5. Floor damage: Water damage may be rotting underneath your home causing sagging floors. The floor joists may need to be replaced. Water leaks may have rotted the beams underneath your home, too.
  6. Higher power bills: A sudden increase in your electricity bills may be caused by the high humidity levels in the crawl space or poor air circulation. Poor insulation inside your crawl space makes your HVAC inefficient and forces it to work harder to cool or heat your home, thus increasing your power bills.

If you have noticed any or all of these red flags, your crawl space may need to be repaired. Have a licensed contractor do an inspection to determine the health of your crawl space and make any recommendations.

While your crawl space may be out of sight, out of mind, it is a vital part of your home and needs to be maintained. Don’t neglect it.

M Taylor Enterprise’s experienced crawl space repair team will visit your home in the Silver Spring, Maryland, Montgomery County, Maryland, Prince George’s County, Maryland  and parts of Howard County MD. We specialize in structural repair in crawl space with deteriorated joists and beams and columns We get the job done quickly and efficiently. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.

Basement Waterproofing: How to Protect Your Basement from Water Damage

Rain has hit us hard on the East Coast.

Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC. have been hit particularly hard. Ellicott City, Maryland had rolling rivers flowing through the downtown area. There has been tragic loss of life and property.

Water and flooding causes thousands of dollars in damage. The good news, however, is this: some water damage can be prevented. It just takes educated effort and a little expense.

If you have a basement, you need to be especially aware of the need to protect it and your home. According to Homeadvisor.com, the average cost to repair and clean up basement water damage in the DMV area is $1,925 and can be as high as $25,000. That’s a lot of hard-earned money going down the drain, so to speak.

So, it’s important to protect your basement from water damage. Here are several ways to waterproof it and prevent flooding:

  1. Downspout Drainage System: Redirect all downpsouts away from your home. You can add an extension to the downspout that will stop water from cascading into your basement. It is recommended that you install a full drainage system sending water underground and away from your basement.
  2. Exterior grading,  the number one overlooked maintenance  item. Proper regrading to ensure that rain water runs away  from the foundation is critical. Regrading is the single most important  item to keep your basement dry next to gutter and downspout maintenance. Often  proper grading with a clay base soil can eliminate the need for an interior drainage system. Don’t overlook window wells either, they need to be a proper height and fit.
  3. Install or maintain your sump pump: All basements should have a sump pump! A pedestal or submersible sump pump removes water that accumulates in the basement. It’s installed in the lowest part of a basement or crawlspace. From there, it keeps the area dry and prevents basement flooding. Water flows into the sump pit by way of drains or by water migration in the soil. Sump pump’s pump the water out of the pit and away from the building thus keeping the basement and crawlspace dry. You should have one installed or clean and maintain the one you have.
  4. Clean the gutters: This one seems so elementary. How is it that it’s constantly forgotten? Anyway, if you want to keep water from flowing into your basement, have your gutters cleaned of leaves, branches and other debris. Full gutters are often the cause of major water damage to basements and roofs. Water spillage drains into basements and foundations causing major damage and expense. Do seasonal gutter cleanings especially if you have trees around your home.
  5. Contractor Inspection: Have a licensed contractor inspect your home for obvious water sources. They may recommend the above or may recommend waterproofing out side of your home.

The rains are here and snow may be coming later so make sure you take these steps to protect your basement, your home and your safety. You will not regret it.

If your home is experiencing floods or foundation problems, contact M Taylor Enterprise for a consultation. Our service areas for basement waterproofing include Montgomery County, Howard County and Prince George’s County, Maryland. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or matt@matttaylorenterprise.com.