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Repairing walls: Carbon Fiber Strips

When there are cracks on walls, that is a shining red flag that repairs need to be done-and soon.
carbon fiber strips walls M Taylor Enterprise
A licensed, home repair contractor will install carbon fiber strips.  Carbon fiber strips are epoxied to a foundation wall, either concrete or  block.
Walls that have developed horizontal cracks from bowing, due  to lateral pressure, are the best candidates for carbon fiber strips. Carbon  fiber is a high-strength strand that is woven into a fabric that is virtually unbreakable and does not stretch.  When used for structural foundation repairs, it is epoxied to the damaged wall at intervals determined by the type and severity of the damage.
Typically, they are installed four  feet  apart . Once installed, they are  nearly flush with the wall surface and painted to match surrounding walls. These strips often take  the place  of steel beam pilasters which are traditionally used to secure a  wall. Carbon fiber straps are not for all walls. Walls that have sheering in at the bottom, or walls  that have  bowed in more then two (2) inches.

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 give you an estimate on your foundation wall repair. We get the job done quickly and efficiently. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.

Frost Heaving: How to Repair a Home Foundation Crack this Winter

Winter is coming but we have already felt some below freezing nights along with rain, snow and sleet. It may be fall, still, but it doesn’t feel like it. The nights in the Maryland/Washington, D.C. DMV area are only going to get colder.

In fact, meteorologists are calling for colder-than-normal temperatures this winter. So, brace up. Make sure your HVAC unit is working properly, you have salt packed away and there are no cracks in your home’s foundation.

winter home foundation cracks M Taylor Enterprise

Wait. You may ask what do cracks in my home’s foundation have to do with a frigid winter? It has a major affect. Frozen ground below your home causes dirt to heave and then contract. The “Heave Cycle”, as it is known, can cause your foundation to crack.

As the winter season goes on, daily exposure to ice and freezing temperatures can cause further damage to your home’s foundation. Three consecutive days of below-forty temperature may enlarge the cracks.

It all happens this way: Ice freezes beneath the concrete foundation. That is called “frost heave” where dirt moves from the formation of ice lenses (long crystals of ice). These same ice lenses can also cause a ground collapse, which can cause serious cracks and damage to the home foundation.

When the foundation starts slipping and cracking, this causes a domino affect in the home which we have discussed in previous blogs. Your foundation, floors, walls and other home structures will be affected. Then you will notice doors and windows not closing, stains on the walls and tilted cabinets.

Frost heave starts from the top as the soil freezes. The foundation never moves. In fact, it is locked as the ground freezes and pulls the foundation up. The soil then fills in the cracks in the foundation. Once the weather thaws, the foundation unlocks from the soil and settles. However, soil has been displaced under the foundation and when the home goes down, it is in a different location.

You can’t prevent cold weather, but you can prevent frost heave from damaging your home foundation any more in the future. Your licensed home foundation repair contractor can do the following:

  1. Drive the footing into the soil.
  2. A bell-shaped fitting is installed at the bottom of the footing to stop it from moving with the frost or other weather events.
  3. The concrete slab then has reinforcing steel installed.

Your holiday season has enough stress already not to be compounded by major home foundation problems. Contact your local licensed, home foundation repair contractor and have them inspect your home.

Our experienced foundation repair team at M Taylor Enterprise in the Washington, D.C.. Montgomery County, MD and Howard County, MD and we will visit your home, inspect your foundation 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.

Don’t Settle for Less: Repairing a Home Foundation that has Settled

Most home foundations settle. It is a fact of life.

settling foundation M Taylor Enterprise

Settling happens when the following occurs:

  1. Time: A home that has existed for several decades, may settle over time. That is only natural. Soil has shifted or sunken. Much of this depends on the soil composition and the typical climate in the region.
  2. Improper soil conditions from changing weather: It may have been built in the summer in hot, soil. Since then, the soil has been hit with rains, then drought then flooding. The soil contracts then expands causing the home to settle.
  3. Poor construction: If the contractor used cheap materials for the home then it may settle much earlier.

So, if this has happened to your home foundation it, like anything in life that we use every day, will need maintenance. This is when you need to contact a licensed home foundation repair contractor.

Once your home foundation repair contractor has inspected the home and analyzed the repairs needed to your foundation, they will repair the settled foundation using one of the following methods:

  1. Install steel push piers: This method is a “forever solution” to home settling. Push piers are driven deep into the soil that lifts the foundation back to its first position when it was a new home. The load-bearing walls are supported and stabilized.
  2. Plate Anchors: Bowed or cracked basement walls are supported by anchors. These anchors are designed to be installed quickly. Plus, your lawn and landscaping are never touched during installation.
  3. Helical Piers: We covered this foundation repair in a previous blog, but it is excellent for slab structures or lightweight buildings. Helical piers are also convenient to install as there is no disturbance to your home.

Winter is around the corner and you may have noticed your home settling, you need to contact your local, licensed home foundation repair contractor. Your home is your most expensive investment. Don’t “settle” for letting the foundation deteriorate.

M Taylor Enterprise is an experienced, licensed and respected home foundation contractor in the Silver Spring, Maryland, Montgomery County, Maryland, Prince George’s County, Maryland and parts of Howard County MD area. We 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.

 

Home Drainage Systems Issues and Methods of Repair

Water is great.

We use it for our food, drinks, showers, sinks, clothes washers, dishwashers, commodes and landscaping. Without water you would be unable to function-that is the bottom line.

Water can also destroy.

home drainage M Taylor Enterprise

If it is not drained properly, it can cause massive damage to your largest property investment-your home. Most insurance policies do not cover water damage claims like these either.  

So, your home drainage system is crucial in protecting your home and your family. Poorly designed home drainage systems can cause the following problems:

  1. Standing water in spots around the foundation.
  2. Dying plants
  3. Basement water
  4. Muddy ground
  5. Insects (particularly mosquitos)
  6. Foul odors
  7. Wet or ruined turf

These problems can be costly, so the decision to correct home water drainage issues needs to be made. Once you have found the problems, call a home drainage system contractor to make the repairs.

Once that contractor arrives, they may one of these steps or several steps to alleviate the drainage problems:

  1. Control hard surface runoff and identify low spots in the landscape. Water must exit the property. A drainage system is then installed to alleviate puddles that form on the property.
  2. Gutters and downspouts must have proper grading or just a one-inch rain will pour over 1,200 gallons of water into your basement. Rain is the main source of stains to your basement. (How many times have you pulled out the wet/dry vacuum to get rid of the water pooled up in your basement?) Gutters must be repaired and rerouted. Water has to be at least 10’ feet away to protect the foundation. Downspouts should be directed into a basin or drain pipe system.
  3. Sump pumps are installed in basements and used to remove water that has accumulated in a sump basin. This pump keeps basements from flooding. Sump pump discharge should be drained to 3”-4” The sump pump discharge line should be drained to a 3” or 4” and run the water to sunlight or a pop-up emitter. This discharge line empties to a larger pipe eliminating pressure on the sump pump.
  4. Ground closest to the home is graded away from it. Clay soil or mulch is used to channel the water away from your basement. Sod and plants are also cleared away from the foundation.
  5. Perimeter drain can also be installed so it redirects ground surface away from the wet area. It has drain pipes along the bottom to move the water out quickly.

Any of these steps may alleviate the home water drainage issues. Consult your licensed home water drainage contractor and have them make the needed repairs.

M Taylor Enterprise’s experienced water drainage 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 will inspect your home and basement and consult you. We get do the work quickly and efficiently. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.

 

How to Choose a Contractor for Your Foundation Repair Projects

You see cracks in your foundation. The doors and windows are not closing all the way. There are water stains on the walls. The drywall is damp and moldy. And your basement smells musty…like a vacant prison cell.

It’s pretty clear your home’s foundation needs repair. You don’t have any more time to put it off now. A home foundation repair contractor  and possibly a structural engineer needs to be hired to design and  deliver a correct repair plan.

So, all you need to do now is pick up your smart phone and call whichever contractor comes to the top of your Google search results, right!?

Not exactly.

In fact, if this foundation repair has not been addressed, it can wait a few days or weeks until you have taken a few well-planned steps.

Here are 6 things to do before you choose you foundation repair contractor:

  1. Research “home foundation repairs”: Educate yourself on what is happening to your foundation. Learn about what a home foundation contractor does and how they make repairs. (Read our blog on foundation repair.)
  2. Does the contractor actually do foundation  repairs? : There are many contractors out there, some reputable and some not so reputable. In fact, there are many building contractors out there, you might think that any contractor can do it. That would be a huge mistake. Only choose contractors who specialize in repairing foundations. If the contractor does it “on the side” then delete them from your list.
  3. Contractor licensed and insured: This one should be easy to find out. Any home foundation contractor should be licensed and insured. You can check with your state licensing board, in Maryland is the  Maryland Home Improvement Commission to see if they have the correct license to work on your home . Check for complaints Ask for a certificate of insurance [ COI] prior to starting any work. You  want to make sure contractor has Workmans Comp Ins and Liability insurance.
  4. Warranty: Most contractors offer warranties on their repairs. Ask for one and get the written list of what the contractor covers.
  5. Landscaping issues: Find out if any of your shrubbery, trees or other landscaping will be need to be removed. You will have to add that into the cost.
  6. Get three references: Any reputable, licensed contractor should have at least three satisfied customers. Get their names and contact information. Also, check their Facebook and Yelp pages for reviews.

Now you have done your homework. Hire the best home foundation repair contractor you can find from your research.

Once you have hired them, get a written agreement on what they will be doing with the total estimate on the cost. Then, arrange to have them start the project.

Hiring a home foundation contractor can be agonizing as you need to get the project under way. However, it is worth the time and the effort.

M Taylor Enterprise is an experienced, licensed and respected home foundation contractor in the Silver Spring, Maryland, Montgomery County, Maryland, Prince George’s County, Maryland and parts of Howard County MD area. We 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.

 

How to Grade the Soil Next to Your Home’s Foundation

Your home depends on its foundation.

And your foundation needs  proper soil grading around its perimeter. Grading prevents excess water from eroding , heaving, and cracking the foundation, causing the need for foundation repair.

Once the foundation cracks, the walls can  begin to bow, doors and windows don’t close correctly and a whole list of home structural problems ensue.

grading home foundation M Taylor Enterprise

It’s crucial that the home foundation grading is done properly.  A qualified contractor determines the required grade. An excavator uses the home  foundation footprint to create the grade.

Then, the home foundation grading begins. Here are the steps:

  1. Grading is most important in the fill wedge of the foundation. The fill wedge is the soil  next to the foundation that was excavated to build the home, then later soil is pushed back to ‘  backfill’ the foundation after the home is constructed . The backfill wedge is roughly the first 4’  of soil around the house The backfill wedge is rarely tamped in lifts for proper compaction. The soil settles over decades.
  2. Mulch is  added over time to add to the problem. To improve the grading remove mulch and small plants from around the house and area must be cleared of all rocks, tree roots and other debris.
  3. Grading begins. Use a clay based soil, once tamped clay sheds water much better than topsoil . The new graded soil must be tamped with a hand tamper or a plate vibratory gas tamper.
  4. Add mulch over the newly  graded area. Make sure the new elevation of the backfill  material is at least four inches  below the bottom siding piece.
  5. Make sure gutters and downspouts are clean, add downspout extensions as needed. Taller window wells are often needed during a regrading job.

Once this is completed, you should have a home foundation grade that will protect your home’s foundation and keep your property from being damaged by heavy rains and water damage.

If you suspect your home’s foundation may need to be graded, contact out experienced home foundation grade contractors at M Taylor Enterprises 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.          

Red Flags: When your home masonry needs repairs

If you have owned a home for any period of time, you know it needs care and maintenance. Whether it’s a masonry home built in 1925 or 2015, it will need repairs to its structure and foundation, sooner or later. You can count on it.

So, it’s good to have your eyes peeled and even inspect your masonry home and foundation on a monthly basis to see if there are problems. It doesn’t need a trained home masonry contractor eyes, either.

masonry repairs M Taylor Enterprise

In fact, there are several red flags you can see for yourself that may indicate that your home masonry needs repairs:

  1. Mortar missing: Brick walls usually need to be re-pointed or repaired every fifteen years. Joints need to be filled with mortar.
  2. Masonry cracks: These would be cracks in the brickwork and masonry and these are serious. Even a small, thin crack can cause damage.
  3. Water infiltration: Water enters the home through cracks in the foundation and walls. Persistent exposure to water weakens the concrete and eats away at the mortar between bricks and concrete blocks.
  4. Interior problems: In a previous blog, we have detailed the many interior structural problems that occur from foundation issues: windows and doors that don’t close, water stains on walls and musty smells.  
  5. Problematic mortar joints: Mortar joints are the spaces between the concrete and the stone. After several years, those joints begin settling thus causing slanted or cracked mortar joints.  
  6. Chimney breaks and cracks: Chimneys that are deteriorating are a fire hazard. And, that deterioration can be seen. A rusted damper, cracks in chimney, blue tile bits piling up at the bottom, flaking brick or mortar breaking down.  
  7. Shoddy workmanship: If the home masonry contractors used inferior building materials, those can also cause cracks and breaks in the foundation and walls. In time, the foundation has uneven settling causing masonry damage. Vermin, rodents and in insects will then eat through the concrete and mortar unleashing serious damage.   

If you see any of the above issues, you need to consult a licensed home masonry structural or basement waterproofing contractor. The contractor will find matching bricks or mortar to replace the damaged sections of your home.

M Taylor Enterprise has licensed, experienced home masonry contractors who can do a consultation and then do the needed repairs, efficiently and help you improve the quality and appearance of your home in the Montgomery County, MD, Silver Spring , MD or Washington, D.C. area. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.   

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.