Inner Banner

Category Archives: Foundation Repair

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.

 

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.          

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.

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.