Inner Banner

Category Archives: Foundation Repair

How to Prevent Your Basement from Flooding

The skies above your Maryland home are dark. A massive rainstorm is about to hit.

You’re thinking: “How bad will it be this time?”

In just a few minutes, the rain comes down in sheets, soaking your home, your lawn, your garden and, most of all, flooding your basement.

It’s a scary moment.

Once the storm ends, you break out the rags, mop and water vacuum. Here we go again. Last year was a record year for rain and flooding in Maryland.

If you own a basement, you have been through this more than once.

However, there are ways you can protect your basement from flooding. The threat of a storm doesn’t have to send chills down your spine. As a home foundation repair contractor, I can tell you: It can be done! Here are several basement flooding prevention tips that may help you stop the once-inevitable:

  1. Clean your gutters: When soil, leaves, branches and other debris clog up your gutters, the water naturally is pushed down to the basement and foundation. Have your gutters cleaned twice a year, in winter and fall, to clean out all the junk in them.
  2. Add downspout extensions: You may not have a quality drainage system around your house. If so, water may flood your basement after a storm.  Downspout extension should be installed so it will send water away from the buildings fill wedge.
  3. Replace leaking windows: Wood frames in basement windows sometimes can become rotted. Once they have rotted, they are so porous that water can leak into the basement. These old windows should be replaced by vinyl or aluminum windows that can impede or block water from entering the basement.
  4. Drain the yard: If you see ponding in your yard after a storm, you may be a basement flood risk, too. Hiring a contractor to install drainage would probably end some flooding, too. Proper  grading around the perimeter of the house helps keep house dry.
  5. Install a sump pump: Sump pumps pump water out of a pit in the basement away from the home. This keeps the basement or crawlspace dry.
  6. Hire a foundation repair contractor: If you are having flooding issues in your home or on your property, they may be beyond your capacity to correct. If that is the case, hire a licensed home foundation repair contractor. They will do an assessment of the foundation and basement. Then, they can make recommendations and repairs.

Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia experience a lot of rain during the spring and summer. Protect your basement from more damage by making the smart adjustments now.

M Taylor Enterprise, Montgomery County, Maryland, has experienced home foundation repair contractors who can assess the reasons your home is flooding, make recommendations and make the installations that you need. Call us for a consultation at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.

Don’t Take it for Granted: Make Sure Your Home Foundation Contractor is Licensed and Insured

So you have chosen a home foundation contractor to do work on your home. You have their estimate, the date set for them to begin and payment agreement.

It’s exciting to finally get a contractor chosen and then get your foundation repaired. So, you are all done now, right?

Well, not exactly.

licensed home foundation repair worker M Taylor Construction

Have you researched whether the home foundation contractor is licensed and insured? If you haven’t, you need to do that immediately. You may ask: what happens if they are not licensed and insured? Here are some risks you take, according to www.maryland.com:

  1. Maryland has many unlicensed contractors who come from other states, so recovering money or stolen items can be very difficult.
  2. Unlicensed home improvement contractors defraud Maryland homeowners of millions of dollars each year.
  3. “Bait and switch” when an unlicensed contractor quotes a low price then demand more money.
  4. The unlicensed contractor may also have an invalid or no MHIC number posted on the side of their company vehicle.
  5. Unlicensed contractors may have had an MHIC but then it was revoked because they performed shoddy work, failed to complete jobs, or for other violations of law.
  6. Senior homeowners are victims of unlicensed contractors.

As you can see, failing to verify their license and insurance can not only be costly, it can also cause further damage to your home. Maryland citizens have lost millions of dollars due to fraudulent home repairs and the state has lost millions of dollars in tax revenue due to these shysters.

So, you need to protect yourself and your loved ones by demanding that the contractors show proof of licensure and insurance. You can do these several different ways:

    1. Request a COI (Certificate of Insurance).
    2. Also, have them show you a copy of a current worker’s compensation insurance certificate.
    3. They need to show you their MHIC license. You can then call MHIC to make sure the license is current. Go the website online or call 1-888-218-5925 (toll free) or 410-230-6231 (Baltimore area).
    4. Ask for local references. If they don’t give you any references, don’t hire them. Have them show you photos of the jobs they have done and if it was completed on time and budget.
    5. Make sure the contractor also has workmen’s compensation.
    6. Get two bids from two separate contractors.
    7. Remember the old rule, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Don’t accept a contracting deal that seems incredibly inexpensive. You will get what you pay for, certainly. Do the research before hiring the contractor.
    8. Get a detailed list of project material selections spelled out and signed in a written contract. (Have a lawyer look at it if you are not sure.)
    9. Pay only 1/3 down and pay by check. Never pay cash. 
    10. File all project documents including payments.

Your home is too valuable to let it be repaired by fake contractors. These unlicensed and uninsured frauds need to be removed from your property as soon as they are unmasked.  

All of the home repair and home foundation repair contractors at M Taylor Enterprise are licensed, insured and have workmen’s compensation. We care about our work and we will show it to you and give you references. Call us for a consultation 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.

 

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.