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Driveway Maintenance: Proper Concrete Driveway Construction

We take for granted so many things in our life: air conditioning, car engines, microwaves, laptops…chocolate.

One thing we definitely take for granted, and we see it every day, is our driveway. Yes, our driveways serve us in so many ways. We park our cars on it, our kids play on it, we wash our cars on it and the value of our homes is enhanced by it. Our driveways are an integral part of our  home.

However, before you can do all the activities you do with your driveway, it first has to be constructed. Driveway construction is a precise and specialized service done by licensed driveway pavers. 

Proper driveway construction step-by-step process is the following:

  1. Plan your driveway: Not all driveways are created the same. You have many factors to consider: how many cars will you park on it, will you be able to turn it around on the street, will it match other homes in the neighborhood, how will your neighbors be affected by it, what needs to be removed on your property so the driveway can be installed, how steep will it be so there is no erosion and it will be safe to enter and exit your vehicle on it. (You may want to get a consultation from one or several driveway construction contractors before agreeing on a final plan.)
  2. Hire a driveway contractor: Once you have planned it, hire a licensed concrete driveway contractor. You may want to get several bids and referrals before making a final decision. Also, find out how long it will take to do the project and if your neighbors will experience and inconveniences. Once you have agreed to a contractor, get it written down on a contract. Make sure you have the financing secured and arrangements made for clearing the land (if needed) so that the concrete paving contractor can begin the project on time.
  3. Get a building permit: Now that you have the bids and the project is imminent, get a building permit from your local government authorities. Utility lines, wells and runoffs have to be considered and approved before starting. Once approved, you may have to display the permit during the driveway paving.
  4. Layout begins: Now, the concrete paving contractor can begin the real work! They will layout the entire section planned for your driveway by placing wooden or steel stakes where the driveway will egress the street and at the end or closing point near the home. Builder’s line is then tied on so it’s now easier to see how the new driveway will look.
  5. Dirt, rocks and vegetation are removed: Now that the layout is clear, the contractor then removes all of the debris within the lines. Dirt, rocks, vegetation and other debris is removed clearing the way for a smoother and flatter driveway.
  6. make sure  proper finishing techniques  are used, do not add water to the  surface of the concrete ever. Do not over water the  concrete in the ready mix truck
  7. Utilities are marked: Outdoor power, gas  lines, telephone/WiFi lines and water lines may be in the layout. Miss Utility  will mark them clearly and protect them from being impacted.
  8. Metal forms are best : These are walls that  are straight and on grade so that when concrete is placed, they won’t move or expand.
  9. Grading of soil: Driveways need to  be 6 inches thick. Thus, fill material is added  as need to obtain a consistent thickness
  10. Fill material is compacted: Your concrete driveway paving contractor then uses a plate compactor, using water to mold it, to compact the base materials
  11. Reinforcing steel or polypropylene fiber added into the concrete is installed: These bars are laid before the concrete is  placed .
  12. Concrete is placed: Then your contractor, using a concrete ready mix truck, places the  plastic concrete into the layout.
  13. Slab is completed: The construction team then uses brooms or other tools to make it as flat as possible.
  14. Concrete is cured: Your contractor then applies either a curing compound or a burlap sheeting so that it drys but not too quickly. Typically it takes around seven days to dry and be ready for use.

Your new driveway is a precise operation which requires a licensed concrete paving contractor. Once you have done it, you will have a driveway you can be proud of, use often and will add to the value of your home.

M Taylor Enterprise’s experienced concrete driveway construction 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 can give you a consultation on it. We get the job done quickly and efficiently. Call us for concrete construction and repair at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.

How to Determine if Your Home Needs Structural Repair

Cracks here, broken lines there and stains all over the place.

If that describes your home, then you can place yourself in a lot of company. There are millions of homeowners who have these same issues. Some of them are serious, some are not and some have the potential to become quite serious.structural repair M Taylor Enterprises

But, even with all those cracks, breaks and stains, how do you know when your home needs structural repair? We all know that good home construction contractors can be expensive. You work hard for your money and you also want your home to be a solid and safe place to live.

So, here are some ways to determine when your home needs structural repair (and when it doesn’t):

  1. .Cracks: They are the  most common signs of a foundation under stress. Foundation are placed concrete, CMU  block, stone or brick, or terra cotta or clay tile block. These brittle materials  show foundation stress via cracks. The cracks can be horizontal, vertical, or steps  crack . Foundations can heave, settle , bow in or rotate out. Thes symptoms can be recognized and a proper   repair can be diagnosed by a quality foundation repair contractor or a registered Structural Engineer PE in your area.
  2. Poor or improper drainage: Rainwater has to go somewhere. It is either drained out and away from your home’s foundation or it is absorbed or drained into your home’s foundation.Homes with basements are  more susceptible to poor grading . If your gutters and downspouts are old or are wrongly placed, the rain water cannot drain away from your home’s foundation. Regrading to obtain slope from the home is needed, Downspouts extensions are a  good investment, Proper window wells and covers are essential Otherwise , the foundation begins to crack from the moisture especially in clay areas..
  3. Leaning foundation: As we have covered before in a previous blog, your home’s foundation is going to tell you when there are problems. The moisture in the ground shrinks or swells your foundation. That shifting causes foundation walls to lean causing cinder blocks to rest on an uneven surface. Windows  may not operate properly Cracks soon appear and water drains inside the foundation. When that happens, the home foundation becomes unstable.
  4. Sagging roof: If your roof is sagging or bows in the middle, your load-bearing walls may have shifted. These walls keep your home upright by carrying the weight of the home. Most likely the lower foundation or lower support has shifted.

Any of these red flags may indicate that you have serious home structure issues. If left alone, they may not only lower the value of your home but be a health threat to you or your family. Call a licensed home structural repair contractor immediately!

A crack here, broken line there and stains everywhere could be serious home foundation issues that need to be remedied. Better safe than sorry.

Our experienced home structural repair team at M Taylor Enterprise will visit your home or business in the Montgomery County, MD, Silver Spring , MD or Washington, D.C. area and diagnose the problems and give you an estimate. We get the job done quickly and efficiently. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.

 

   

What is an Egress Window and How It Could Save Your Life

egress window M Taylor ConstructionImagine sitting in your basement, watching TV or playing with your children on the floor and, suddenly, it catches on fire. Do you have an emergency exit so you and your children can escape quickly? If not, your family’s safety is in peril.

However, there is a solution for that: an Egress Window.

An “Egress Window” is defined by www.HomeAdvisor.com as:

“a path out” or “to emerge,” and these terms directly apply to the design principles behind egress windows. In case of an emergency, windows installed in any sleeping room must pass strict codes so that occupants can exit and rescue specialists can enter the bedroom.

But, these windows cannot just be any size. The requirements for an Egress Window are the following:

  1. Minimum width of opening: 20 in.
  2. Minimum height of opening: 24 in.
  3. Minimum net clear opening: 5.7 sq. ft. (5.0 sq. ft./ground floor)
  4. Maximum sill height above floor: 44 in.

If you need to install them, please do it. Your family’s safety is at stake, so don’t delay. It can be done without busting your budget, too. In fact, an Egress window can be substantially less, as mush as 1/4 the cost of a standard window.

Along with safety, these windows can also allow for more light in your basement. Many basements that we work in are dark and kind of creepy. Egress windows allow sunlight to break through and that changes the entire atmosphere of the basement making it more useful for activities and more inviting for family and guests. 

There are three types of Egress Window installations you can do:

  1. Glider or Double-Hung Windows: These are larger windows than a typical Egress. They will pass code but they have a lot of glass when opened. These are not always recommended but can be installed as they will certainly allow for escape.
  2. Casement Windows: These are the most common and most recommended Egress windows to install. It is typically attached to the frame by several hinges. They are opened by using a crank, a lever or a cam handle. They open from the inside so one can exit through it quickly and without harm.
  3. Awning Windows: These windows swing out from the bottom thus making escape awkward and even impossible to achieve because the hinges are centered in the middle. They are not recommended by most contractors.

All of these windows should open easily and not have any obstructions. Give yourself plenty of room to escape. Clear all of the space around it of clutter and keep a ladder or stepladder next to it.

So, if you love your basement and spend a lot of time there, make sure you, your family and visitors have a way to escape should a disaster occur in it. Have your local contractor come over for a consultation and determine your safety needs.

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 Structural Repair: Footings and their Importance for Your Home

foundation repairs M Taylor EnterpriseWhat is the most important part of your home? If you guessed the foundation, you are correct.

Your home’s foundation is crucial for everything else to work correctly in your home. From electrical system to water and sewage to windows to basement to even your cabinets, if your foundation has settled or shifted, it will affect everything else.

The importance of a  stable foundation cannot  be understated.

One of the critical parts of your home’s foundation is its footings.

According to www.concretenetwork.com:

Footings are an important part of foundation construction. They are typically made of concrete with rebar reinforcement that has been poured into an excavated trench. The purpose of footings is to support the foundation and prevent settling. Footings are especially important in areas with troublesome soils.

As you see, without strong footings to support the foundation, it will settle and your home will begin to deteriorate and, literally, fall apart. This is how your foundation and footings interact:

  1. The foundation connects the walls to the footing.
  2. The footing can be found in the basement or in the crawl space.
  3. Footings are then secured to the foundation.
  4. Footings are specific to the building/home.
  5. Footings keep it from sinking into the soil.

A  structural   engineer, who works for the contractor, will advise on the type of footings to be used based on the type soil and  the load it is required to carry.. Using that information, they can install the correct foundation and footings for structural stability. (Home in flood zones or earthquake-prone regions may require special types of footings.)

When the home foundation repair contractor arrives, they will do the following:

  1. Look at damage and crack patterns around the house, look at foundation walls to see if its a  settlement issue or at wall bowing in issues from lateral force of the soil Also type of foundation [ block,  placed concrete etc] will help determine the repair method
  2. In some cases soil samples are taken . Soil with clay textures is more stable. A mix of particle sizes are also optimal for foundations. Also, soil that is stable through wetting and drying cycles will not crack foundations, roads or driveways.

Once they have determined what type of footings should be used, then they can make recommendations to the homeowner. Footings are typically made of concrete with rebar reinforcement that is poured into the trench.

Based on the information from the engineer, the home foundation contractor can decide on the proper depth and width for the placement of the footings.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of your foundation and footings.

M Taylor Enterprise has installed thousands of foundations and footings in the Montgomery County, Maryland area. If think your home may have foundation or footings issues, contact M Taylor Enterprise for a consultation. Our service areas include Montgomery  County  Howard County and Prince George’s County, Maryland. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.  

Your Home’s Anchor: Helical Piers and How they Work

Boats have anchors.

Cars have brakes.

And, homes have helical piers.

A helical pier is, according to www.builderonline.com, is a:

A helical pier is a manufactured steel foundation pin that is driven into the soil to a depth below frostline using hydraulic machinery. Helical piers are primarily used in heavy commercial work, but they’re also well-suited for backyard decks, additions, and foundation repairs.

Helical piers which are also known as “anchors”, screwpiles or piles. They are foundation solutions that are utilized to new foundations or repair existing foundations. They are not difficult to install and are mainly used when soil conditions prevent standard foundation  repairs.

Helical piers are made by using steel shafts with helical shafts and are installed deep in the foundation underpinning elements constructed using steel shafts with helical flights. The shafts move to the deep below the foundation by  twisting them into the foundation soil. Torque is monitored to estimate the pile capacity.

Piers, which are galvanized steel, have a seven foot shaft with a helical bearing plate welded to the end and a cap on top. Length depends on the condition of the soil. Smaller piers are used heavy, rock-filled soils and larger piers for softer, clay soils. The helical anchor/pile is 3” and welded to a central steel shaft. The load is moved from the shaft to the soil using bearing plates.

So, when do you need to install a helical pier? Here are five reasons to install a helical pier:

  1. They cause minimal damage to lawn and vegetation.
  2. Your home’s foundation experiences minimal trauma and there is no     damage to it.
  3. Installation is completed in a small space.
  4. They can be installed in any weather.
  5. They are installed quickly with minimal traffic on your lawn.
  6. Can be installed to a any known load-bearing capacity.

M Taylor Enterprise  has used helical piers in construction and foundation projects throughout Montgomery County Maryland. Projects have included tiebacks for walls that were bowing and leaning, new construction, old construction, sloped areas and also to help add lift for sunken concrete and stone slabs.

Hydraulic motors are used to quickly and safely install these supports and our team has extensive experience utilizing this effective source of foundation repair support.

Contact us at (301) 649-3406 or at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com if you think helical piers may be an answer to your particular project. Advice is always free.

 

 

 

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.

     

Kevlar What?: Kevlar Straps and How They Work

foundation repair workerWhen you hear the word “Kevlar”, it conjures up a lot of thoughts. This new, durable and commonly-used material is found in many everyday products. In fact, you’d be surprised how much you depend on Kevlar.

Kevlar is found in everything from body armor to bicycle tires to ping pong paddles to even cell phones! The US Military uses it in battle and you use it every time you pick up your mobile phone.

But, did you also know that Kevlar is used in your home? Yes, they are known as “Kevlar Straps” and they can perform a major repair for your home.

When soil pressure fractures a block or concrete foundation wall, it causes bowing. Thus, the home’s foundation needs to be stabilized. Left unresolved, the horizontal or vertical cracks in the foundation or basement will greatly reduce the value of the home. They must be repaired.

A licensed building or construction contractor can install a Kevlar (carbon fiber) grid to prevent any more movement to the wall.The wall is prepared via a dustless  grinding system, and the Kevlar strap is epoxied to the wall with a wet lay up method. It lays flat against the wall. Following a paint job, you may not even see it.

Kevlar Straps don’t deteriorate, either. No rust. No collapse.

The advantages to using Kevlar Straps are quite numerous:

  • No drilling into your foundation or basement walls.
  • Usually take only one day to install.
  • No digging.
  • No heavy steel to install.
  • Straps will conform to the walls.
  • It is a permanent repair.

Home repair technology is quite advanced now and Kevlar Straps are one of the great advantages of 21st Century home ownership. Your contractor comes in, installs the straps, then paints over them and then it’s done!

If you suspect your home is in need of Kevlar Straps, contact our licensed building experts at M Taylor Enterprise. We have done thousands of repairs in the Montgomery County, Howard County, and  Prince George’s County, Maryland area. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or matt@matttaylorenterprise.com for a free consultation.

Concrete Repair: How It’s Done

You see it every day when you walk to your car or get the mail. It’s embarrassing and can even be dangerous.

We are talking, of course, about the cracks in your sidewalk, walkway or driveway. Those cracks, which are caused by weather, automobiles, animals, age and just constant usage, take away from the appearance and value of your home. Sidewalk cracks may even cause serious injuries to family members and visitors.

These are common repairs and can be done correctly and efficiently with the right tools, materials and basic understanding of how concrete works. Here are the step-by-step directions to do concrete repair:

  1. Do a properly tamped base. Gas power tamper worksbut use a small roller.
  2. Make sure the reinforcement is up in the concrete and not laying on the ground. We use re-bar on high chair instead of wire mesh.
  3. Proper slump and don’t add too much water. A strong concrete mix is weakened with the overuse of mixing water. If you need to use a higher slump. (Get the correct ad mixture.)
  4. Thickness is so important! We always make our concrete driveways 6” thick.
  5. Proper control and expansion jointsare tooled in and are generally only an inch or so. We saw cut joints deeper the next day after the placement.
  6. Joints need to be at least 1/4 the thickness of the slab. We do 1/3 the thickness of the slab for control joints
  7. Never ever apply water during the finishing process! It weakens the surface cement/water matrixand leads to spalling surface. Please note that if you can’t finish the concrete without the use of adding surface water, you are placing too much concrete or you are short on finishers.
  8. Now apply a curring compound after the concrete placement finishing operations. Spray or roll on helps even in cool weather.
  9. When you strip forms, back-fill around the slab edges with saved soil from the excavation process. Cut and piece in sod at the disturbed areas, when possible.
  10. If you run into unexpected issues such as clay that is pumping and won’t tampor there are old stumps or unexpected old layers of concrete, then the concrete repairs will require the services of an experienced craftsman.
  11. If you end up botching the entire job, don’t fret. Just take it out and have a professional replace it

It’s a pretty involved procedure and requires a lot of detailing and no step can be skipped. Be sure you have ALL the tools and materials before you begin. Also, check the weather forecast for the day you do the repairs. Rain or storms definitely will delay your project. Make sure it is a clear day and not too cold or hot.

However, if this seems too involved or not something you’d like to tackle, then call our professional concrete repair team at M Taylor Enterprise. We can give you an estimate, send a team out to your home or business location and get the job done quickly and efficiently. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.

Signs of Potential Foundation Problems

foundation repairs M Taylor EnterpriseAre your walls bowing  in? Doors not closing? Walls cracking?

All those creaks you’re hearing and dampness you’re seeing may be your home’s foundation deteriorating.  Your homes foundation may be having issues if you see any off the following;

  1.  vertical or  horizontal cracks  in the  basement  walls
  2. exterior cracks in the masonry
  3.  basement walls bowing in
  4.  water infiltration
  5.  doors  begins to jam or fails to latch
  6. cracks in ceramic floor
  7. cracks in the walls, doorways, windows or walls
  8. windows stick or cannot close all the way
  9. damp carpets
  10.  puddles on  basement floor
  11.  discoloring on  walls
  12.  odors
  13.  damp and moldy  drywall
  14.  muddy floors
  15.  flooding in the basement

When these issues are occurring in the home, it usually points to foundation issues.

Poor drainage is usually the causes of water entering the home. It comes in through settled back fill or leaking window wells. These persistent leaks cause major water damage and may decrease the value of your home. Water stains and buildups in the floors and walls also develop into mold which creates a host of health issues which we will discuss in a future blog.

When you start seeing these signs, call a qualified  foundation  specialists repair company right away. Have them do an inspection and give you an estimate. You should call several companies and have them bid on the job.

When it comes to making foundation repairs, there are  many  methods of home foundation repair:

  1. For a  settled foundation,  helical  piers or anchors are driven into the ground and install to a depth below the unstable soil. The foundation adjustment screws then allow lifting of the structure.
  2. For bowed in walls, Kevlar carbon fiber straps or ‘’I’’ beams are installed to brace the wall , sometimes  thru the wall anchors are needed.
  3. Settled  slabs can be lifted with helical piers with slab brackets or grout is pumped beneath the beam or slab that lifts the  slab restoring the home to its original elevation.

Once your home foundation is repaired, the problems you had before should be resolved. Foundation issues once meant a home had to be demolished.

However now, with updated technology, experienced  foundation contractors can diagnose and repair the foundation and restore it to its original condition or even better. Your most valuable and expensive financial asset can be saved and give you many years of enjoyment.

Our experienced foundation repair team at M Taylor Enterprise will visit your home or business, diagnose the problems and give you an estimate. We get the job done quickly and efficiently. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.