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How to Choose a Basement Waterproofing Contractor

As life gets back to normal for most of us in the DMV/Washington D.C. Beltway area, we have had time to notice and investigate any home maintenance issues and repair or seek out a contractor to do the repairs. 

My basement waterproofing company has received a number of calls, even during the COVID-19/Coronavirus. * They have seen the red flags of basement water damage and foundation issues as we have discussed in previous blogs

If you have seen foundation or basement issues, you need to contact a basement waterproofing contractor. Here are several criteria to consider: 

  1. Was a thorough inspection of my home ever conducted?: Look at your home purchase documents and see if an inspection was made of the property. If there was an inspection, reread it to see if the inspector made any citations concerning the foundation. If so, show this to the basement waterproofing contractor that you eventually hire. 
  2. Find reputable basement waterproofing contractors in your area: A local contractor is the most beneficial one to hire. They have a reputation and will have referrals from local citizens. Ask your friends to see if they have used this contractor. 
  3. Professional courtesy: Any reputable contractor will be professional, efficient, and courteous. If you detect any difficulties or unprofessionalism, you may want to consider other contractors.
  4. Ask for licenses and certifications: All reputable basement waterproofing repair firms will have the licenses and certifications that are required by the location(s) in which they work. Ask them to make copies of the licenses/certifications/bonding/insurance if necessary. All should be up-to-date. If they are reticent to show you their licenses and certifications, this is not a contractor you should hire.    
  5. Detailed estimate: The contractor should submit a detailed estimate following the home foundation inspection. The inspection should include issues and solutions. It should be given to you the date of the inspection or within five (5) business days afterward. 
  6. Required deposit: Good contractors should require a percentage of the cost upfront. Some ask for one-third (1/3) or one-half (1/2) of the fee upfront. Never pay them the entire amount upfront, even if they have a good reputation. You should inspect their work when completed and make sure they did everything in the contract. Once that has been confirmed, then make the final payment.  
  7. Contract: The detailed basement waterproofing repair contract should include starting and ending dates, permits that need to be secured, costs and payment arrangements, and a “Notice of Right to Cancel” which allows the homeowner or contractor to cancel the project within three (3) business days. 
  8. Reviews on social media and websites: Following the project, review the contractor on social media such as Google my Business, Facebook, Yelp, NextDoor and other venues. Let the public know how the contractor did and include photos.  

Your basement waterproofing contractor’s work is crucial to the health of your home and family. Do the necessary preparation before you hire a firm to do the work. Too much is riding on it to do any less. 

M Taylor Enterprise basement waterproofing contractors can do a consultation in Prince George and Silver Spring, MD area. If you are worried about your home foundation or need structural repair in Maryland call (301) 649-3406 or matt@mtaylorenterprise.com and protect your home so it can protect you.

*For more information on Maryland reopening phases and other COVID news click here.

Signs Your Home Foundation Needs Structural Repair

Summer is now in full swing with the heat rising in July and everyone wanting to get out of quarantine. Luckily, the second phase of stage two openings has happened in Maryland. Businesses are starting to reopen cautiously with customers and workers’ health in mind.

Some restaurants have opened patios, porches, and terraces at full capacity and indoor dining areas at half capacity. Indoor and outdoor pools can open under strict guidelines, so there is still a chance that families can beat the hot summer humidity with cool chlorine waters*. This is welcome news after days, weeks, and months have melded together due to quarantine schedules and it may be over by fall.

Since the announcement of the government shut down, people have been staying at home to combat the Coronavirus and make sure hospitals were not overwhelmed. With more time at home, you may have noticed a few things. The couch is still comfy after a few hours of binge-watching a new show. The oven in the kitchen spreads warm air while cooking your meal and that’s great news for cold bare feet. The photos of great-grandma were in the attic all this time and there are a few frames still around. 

When you were hanging the photos did you notice a small or hairline crack in the wall? Did you smell a strange odor in the house as you searched for the perfect spot? These small nuisances could be your house telling you that your home foundation may be cracking and need structural repair. Luckily, you can catch visible warnings early and there are more signs your house may use. Have you encountered

  1. damp carpets, usually in the basement or first floor in the house?
  2. damp drywall, if you smell sweaty gym socks or other foul odors there may be a damp spot in your walls and even mold?
  3. discoloration of walls, when the foundation moves then the whole house will move causing pipes to be strained and start to leak or there could be cracks?
  4. Puddles, if you don’t have any leaking appliances this may be a sign that water is getting into the house through cracks in the foundation?
  5. flooding in the basement, when another heavy summer storm comes to your neighborhood and your basement is full of water then there are cracks in the foundation?
  6. bowing or buckling walls, if your foundation walls are curving into the house like a cave in taking its time then your house is in danger?

These are signs of your foundation failing, and you may have seen most of these early signs are due to water. This relates back to what causes foundations to crack with the most likely culprits being unstable soil surrounding the foundation or a poor drainage system. To fix this problem it’s important to call the professionals who can do the structural repair in the  Maryland area

M Taylor Enterprise professionals can help in Prince George and Silver Spring, MD area. If you are worried about your foundation or need structural repair in Maryland call (301) 649-3406 or email matt@mtaylorenterprise.com and protect your home so it can protect you.

*For more information on Maryland reopening phases and other COVID news click here.

Keep Your Gutters Cleared or Home Foundation Damage May Appear

In the midst of this Coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis, a lot of things may be pushed aside. That is understandable. This experience is all new to us.

But, since we have a lot of time at home right now, there are some things you can do to keep your home foundation in good shape. One task that you can do is clean the gutters. 

As we have discussed in past blogs, a cluttered or impacted gutter can cause the following problems for your home foundation:

  1. Water damage from gutter overflow: When gutters are filled with leaves, soil, and other debris, they will overflow. Gutters are designed to send rainwater away from the foundation. However, when they are cluttered, the water will instead fall on the home and foundation, thus causing cracks in it.
  2. Water in the foundation cracks: Once water infiltrates the home foundation cracks, it will freeze in the winter. When it freezes it expands the cracks which allow for even more water to enter. 
  3. Standing water attracts mosquitos: When gutters spill onto the ground they can create little ponds. These ponds then attract bugs, mainly mosquitos, which can nest and reproduce in the water. They then will infiltrate your home.
  4. Soil erosion: The constant running of water on the side of a home foundation will erode the soil and cause the home to shift. This will crack the foundation and cause all sorts of interior damage to the home.
  5. Home siding damage: Water will also stain siding, painting, and rotting. 

So, as you can see, your gutters do a crucial job of keeping your foundation clean and preserved. They must be cleaned regularly or much home foundation damage will result.

Here is are some tips on how to clean your gutters:

  1. Use a small garden trowel or your gloved hands to scoop out the leaves and debris. Start at the downspout and make your way backward. 
  2. Once you have done this first part, make your way down the gutter, carefully cleaning out each section. You can throw the debris into a bag or toss it to the ground and clean it up afterward.
  3. Using a hose, flush out the deeper and smaller debris. If there is only a trickle in your downspout, you may have a serious clog. Aim the gun nozzle down the spout and use the highest pressure to force the debris off the gutter walls and down the downspout. 
  4. Clean up all of the debris that was flushed out of the gutters.
  5. And, as always, be careful on the ladder. Have someone hold the ladder sides while you do the gutter cleaning. 

If this task seems dangerous to you or you are unable to do it, have a gutter cleaning company do it for you. It is recommended that you do it at least twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall after most of the leaves have fallen.

Should you notice any home foundation issues, call a professional, licensed home foundation repair contractor. M Taylor Enterprise is an experienced and licensed home repair foundation contractor. We can inspect, analyze, and repair your home foundation correctly and efficiently.   We serve the counties of Prince George and Silver Spring, MD area. Call us for a consultation at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.    

Concrete Repair: Slab-Jacking a Home Foundation

Home foundations take a beating. 

Heat, cold, rain, snow, sun, animals, humans and time all contribute to it cracking, leaking and breaking. All of these elements contribute to their deterioration. 

Once a homeowner has seen cracks in the foundation, water stains on walls or windows and doors that won’t close, they need to contact a home foundation repair contractor. The home foundation repair contractor will then do an analysis of the foundation and make a recommendation. (See our blog on this topic.)  

They may recommend “slab-jacking” to repair the home foundation. It is a rather complicated method of repair which goes like this: The concrete slab of the home is lifted to one side and releveled. 

Actually, this does not only apply to home foundations. It also can be done for concrete slab patios or driveways which are sunken or tilted.

Slab-jacking is installed using several different methods: 

  1. A group of holes, about a ½” long each, are drilled into the concrete slab. 
  2. Then, sand, ash, water, and gravel are funneled into the holes. 
  3. The slab begins to rise. 
  4. Then the holes are plugged. 

If the home is built over a crawlspace or basement, they will do the following:

  1. A cement mixture is injected into the holes, raising the foundation.
  2. Slab jacks are installed.

Slab-jacking is done for portions of a home, not for the entire home. So, the home foundation should not be completely bad, only a portion of it. The same goes for the patio, sidewalk, driveway or garage floor.

Many home foundation repair contractors are also using Uretek. It is a polymer resin that does not require lifting the slab. Instead, the polyurethane in the Uretek compound lifts the foundation on its own. While it is convenient and quicker, it is also more expensive than the other methods. 

The equipment used for slab-jacking are the following:

  1. Grout Mixers: While these are high-maintenance and time-consuming, grout mixers provide maximum air circulation.  The grout has to have a consistency which permits a consistent flow of substances under the slab to help spread the grout and even lift it.
  2. Grout Pumps: These are air-operated, double-diaphragm pumps; or hydraulically operated progressive cavity pumps. They have an output of up to 110 cubic feet per hour and a 180 cubic feet per hour output from dual-cylinder models. 
  3. Rock drill/Coring machine: The rock drill prevents excessive dust and breakout at the bottom of the slab. It has four points on the drill bit. It is gas-powered using a 2” diameter bit. It can go at a speed of 60 GPM.

The materials typically used, as mentioned above are:

  1. Sand: 5mm and silt-free
  2. Cement: between 5%-20% of dry-weight materials.
  3. Bentonite: for lubrication and not exceed 12% so strength is compromised
  4. Cement Fondue: rapid set (if required) 
  5. Expanders: compensate for shrinkage

Slab-jacking is not that simple but it is an effective and quick method of repairing a home foundation. Have your licensed home foundation repair contractor to inspect and analyze your foundation to see if this is the best way to repair it.

M Taylor Enterprise is an experienced and licensed home repair foundation contractor. We can inspect, analyze and repair your home foundation correctly and efficiently.   We serve the counties of Prince George and Silver Spring, MD area. Call us for a consultation at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.    

 

How to protect your home foundation this winter

Normally, I am saying in blogs at this time of year: “Well, we are getting hit with snow and ice so I hope your home foundation can handle it!”

However, this winter, the weather has been all over the place! One day it’s 70 degrees, the next day it’s 25 degrees. One week it’s in the ’50s during the day and in the ’20s at night. It’s been a strange winter for the weather, for sure***. 

Yet, there are some things, unlike the weather, that never change and that is taking care of your home foundation. During the cold (and warm) days in Central Maryland this winter, here are a few steps you can take to make sure your home foundation is in good shape:

  1. Leave the dehumidifier on:  Humidity can seriously damage your foundation and walls during winter. So, instead of turning it off, leave the dehumidifier on. Turn it on the lowest setting and let it alone. It will definitely help maintain your walls and foundation.   
  2. Clean the gutters: Gutters can be a mess this time of year. They are filled with leaves, sticks, nuts, dirt, dead animals and other debris. All these debris packs in and don’t allow water to run thus causing flooding and foundation damage. Get in there and clean them out (or have a professional gutter cleaning company do it) so water can run freely through the gutter and down the downspout. Don’t forget to adjust the downspouts, too. 
  3. Inspect the foundation for cracks: Even a small crack in the foundation can cause major problems sometime later. Have them repaired as soon as possible. During freezing, small cracks expand allowing water to get in. The water then freezes and enlarges the cracked section. Have a professional home foundation repair contractor fix it before the small ones become big ones. 
  4. Soil adjustments: Your foundation should not be easily seen. If it can be, you definitely have a problem. Winter weather and cold water can damage it deeply. Add some topsoil and cover the perimeter of the foundation. Then, rake the dirt so there is a downward slope that leads away from your home. Soil set like this will protect your home from flooding. (Use only dirt.)    

Protecting your home foundation, even in the perplexing weather that we have lately, will preserve your foundation and save you both money and stress. If you are unsure of what to do should you discover cracks, water or other damage, call your home foundation repair contractor for advice or a consultation. 

If you see any problems with your home foundation, call our home foundation repair experts at M Taylor Enterprise. We can do a thorough review of your structure and make recommendations. We serve the counties of Prince George and Silver Spring, MD area. Call us for a consultation at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com. 

***For more information on Maryland weather, see this link.  

Do You Need Home Foundation Repair? Three Telltale Signs It’s Sinking

If you ever get that “sinking feeling” when you are in your home, you’ve got big problems. And, if those problems aren’t resolved, your home is going down.

Your home is set on a fixed foundation. It is not supposed to settle or sink. When it does, as we have discussed in this blog, “Don’t Settle for Less: Repairing a Home Foundation that has Settled”, you will know it. 

Sinking occurs when the ground cannot handle the weight of the home anymore and it begins to sink. Here are several common causes of a home foundation sinking:

  1. Plumbing is leaking: Your commodes, sinks, fixtures, or pipes may be leaking into the foundation. This causes the soil to erode.
  2. Tree roots: Tree roots “dessicate” or dry up the soil by drinking up the moisture in the soil. Once that occurs, the home foundation begins to slide.
  3. Drainage: If water is not draining correctly away from the foundation, it erodes the soil.
  4. Bad soil: Soil expands and contracts around the foundation. This may be due to the soil not being prepared properly when the foundation was built.
  5. Poor foundation construction: The home foundation contractors used poor or inferior materials to build it.   
  6. Evaporation: The soil is parched due to heat and wind.

Any of these factors can be the cause(s) of the sinking of your home foundation. Once it occurs you will then see these signs: 

  1. Musty smells in the basement: If it smells like mildew then the basement walls are probably leaking. Most likely the gutters are blocked causing moisture to seep into the basement. If the gutters are clean and it still smells musty, then it may be a leak in the plumbing.
  2. Mold in the corners of windows and wall: Mold is always a bad sign. This means that moisture is accumulating in the home. Mold is also dangerous to your health***. It cannot be taken lightly. There may be cracks in the foundation that are letting in water.
  3. Chimney has moved: If there ever was a sign of the foundation sinking it comes from the most obvious part of your home: the chimney. If it has moved, even just a little bit, the home foundation is definitely sinking. This is not only damage to your home but it could spell danger for anyone living in the home.  

One day, and we are not exaggerating, you could be sitting in your home and it completely slides off its foundation or suddenly sinks deeper into the ground. Home foundations that are neglected also become quite expensive to repair over time. 

The best action plan to take is to call a licensed and experienced home foundation contractor to analyze your foundation. They can repair it in a short period of time protecting your home and your most precious investment: your family. 

If you see any signs of your home foundation sinking, call our home foundation repair experts at M Taylor Enterprise who can do a thorough review of your structure and make recommendations. We serve the counties of Prince George and Silver Spring, MD area. Call us for a consultation at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com. 

***For more information on mold health issues visit MedicalNewsToday

   

Testimonials: Utility Room Leak Repaired

We love to hear from our satisfied customers. When this customer told us how pleased he was with our work, we had to share it with you: 

“Matt and his team are truly remarkable. I was blown away by the care and energy they brought to the work. The wall in the below-ground utility room of our house was leaking. Matt carefully evaluated the problem and talked us through the issues, ensuring we understood the problem and his recommended repairs. Sealing the wall on the exterior required temporarily moving an AC unit, recreating a concrete platform for the AC unit, excavating alongside the house, and re-grading the land. For the job, other contractors provided estimates that were far outside of our budget. Matt’s estimate was half or less of the other estimates. Matt’s team completed the work in one and a half days. Everyone on the team was very professional, and communications with Matt were excellent. I highly recommend M. Taylor Enterprise!”

~ Brian C., Maplewood Alta Vista, Maryland

Thank you so much for your kind words and recommendation, Brian! Our home repair team enjoyed working with you to make the necessary repairs to your utility room wall.

M Taylor Enterprise can repair leaks in your walls, too. Call (301) 649-3406 to speak with our home repair and home foundation repair experts for analysis and estimate. We serve Montgomery County, Howard County, and Prince George’s County, MD areas. 

 

Helical Pier Technology & How Helical Tiebacks Work

Helical piers are so important we are revisiting this blog topic with some new information.

When your home settles, there is an engineered repair method for home foundation support. Most home foundations will settle after several years or decades depending on the weather, soil or quality of workmanship.

helical piers used in construction

The helical pier technology underpins a settling structure by raising it and supporting it. If the house is heavy, piers will be closely spaced. Load-bearing walls are heavier to underpin, too.

Also, the placement of the helical piers depends on the weight of the home, home foundation condition and the type of pier. Your home foundation repair contractor will consult you on the proper helical pier to use.

One method of helical piers technology is known as “helical tie backs”. Tiebacks anchor or support basement walls that are bowing, leaning or unsound.

Helical tiebacks are installed like this:

  1. A hole is drilled into the basement wall and a helical shaft is inserted.
  2. Then a helical screw anchor is installed.
  3. After finding the correct bearing depth, the wall plate is installed.
  4. The plate is tightened against the helical anchor bringing the wall back to its original location.
  5. The soil is then backfilled to the basement wall.

Helical tiebacks are an effective method of supporting damaged walls. They do not support a home foundation that is settling. You will need to work with a home foundation engineer to correct that. (We covered that topic in this blog.)

However, helical tiebacks are usually installed quickly and efficiently. They are load tested to verify the capacity and they can be loaded immediately after being installed. If your soil is sinking or unstable, helical tiebacks can also be installed.

Helical pier technology has many advantages and methods, more of which we will cover in future blogs. Consult your licensed home foundation engineer for the best method for your home foundation.

M Taylor Enterprise installs both helical piers and helical tiebacks. Call our experienced engineers for a consultation. We will analyze your home foundation issue and efficiently repair it. Call us for a consultation at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com. We serve the Montgomery County, MD area.

Seven Myths about Home Foundation Repair

If your home foundation goes, you are in a world of hurt.

As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, the good health of your home foundation is crucial to your family’s health and to the maintenance of your largest financial investment. If it deteriorates, everything begins to fall apart.

myths about home foundation repair M Taylor Enterprise

However, just like anything in life, your home foundation is also subject to mythology or urban myths. You may ask yourself: Does it need to be lifted? Does the foundation repair cost even more than the value of the home? Will it destroy my yard?

We will address those home foundation repair myths and more, as we want you to have all the information before you seek out a contractor.

  1. “My yard will be decimated!” Wrong. Most home foundation repairs are done inside and do not require a lot of exterior excavation. In fact, the helical piers that we install need very little exterior excavation.
  2. “These foundation repairs will hurt the ability to sell my home.” Almost any home improvement will increase its value. Also, you are required to reveal and provide documentation on all home structure improvements. So your home foundation repair has to be disclosed. However, that should be positive, as prospective buyers will see that the foundation is repaired and improved. It will not impede your ability to sell your home.
  3. Home foundation repairs cost too much!” That is, unfortunately, the first thing people think of when they discover a crack in their foundation. Surprisingly, to many homeowners, foundation repairs are not that costly. Due to new technology and updated repair methods, the costs of repairing your foundation may be pretty reasonable. Of course, costs vary due to the location and extent of the repairs. However, you won’t break the bank getting it done.
  4. “Just fill the cracks. That should do it.” Filling the cracks in your foundation with epoxy may be helpful in the short term. However, this will not alleviate other issues that may be wrong with your foundation.     
  5. “I’ll accept the cheapest bid.” You are familiar with the old saying, “You get what you pay for.” That is definitely applicable to home foundation repair contractors! In the DMV area, you can find some credible, honest contractors. However, you can also find many untrustworthy, dishonest contractors. Additionally, while they may be able to do the job for a “reasonable price”, they leave you with shoddy or incomplete work. It’s not hard to do the research to see homeowners who were ripped off by despicable, slipshod contractors. So, don’t go with the lowest bid. Find out if they have a license. Get references. Does your foundation engineer recommend them? Can you reach them in the future if there are issues? You should get all of these along with a warranty. Also, visit the www.myfoundationrepairs.com website for more information concerning home foundation repair in the area.
  6. “Don’t buy that house. It has a foundation problem!” Home buyers tend to think, incorrectly, that if the home they want to purchase has foundation issues, it’s not good to buy it. Any home that is just a few years old needs some type of repairs. Of course, home foundations are not immune to that. Have the home inspector give you the details and then bring in a structural engineer to make recommendations.

Home foundations need maintenance and repairs like anything else. Some repairs are minor, and some are much more complicated. Do your homework, and hire a licensed, reputable home foundation repair contractor to make all the necessary repairs. Leave the mythology behind!

M Taylor Enterprise, Inc., Montgomery County, Maryland, has experienced and licensed home foundation repair contractors on staff. We can analyze your home foundation issue and efficiently repair it. Call us for a consultation at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.

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?”

traffic signals in the rain showing green lights

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 extensions should be installed in drainage systems. The extension sends water away from a 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.