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Home Drainage Systems: Six Reasons for Winter Maintenance

It’s January and the icy cold temperatures have descended on Maryland, as it does every winter. With the exception of a few warm days, we are getting hit hard by below-freezing temperatures, especially at night. 

Your home foundation is feeling it, too. With every increase above freezing, and then the drop below freezing, your home foundation is expanding and contracting. And that’s okay, as it is built to withstand very cold and very hot climates. 

However, all may not be well with your home drainage system that redirects water away from your home foundation. Your frozen pipe or drain is located outside, but most water damage occurs inside your home. So, the consequences may be tons of flowing to where it shouldn’t and causing major damage to your home which may also cause a major hit to your checking account. 

Just one night of frozen temperatures may cause havoc with your home drainage system. So, in order to avoid your pipes cracking and then flooding into your home, here are six ways you can maintain your home drainage systems this winter: 

  1. Never turn your heat off: You will save money on your heating bills and prevent ice from cracking your pipes by just maintaining a steady temperature (70-75 degrees) in your home during the winter. Never, ever turn your heat off during the winter even if you are not home for days or weeks at a time. 
  2. Clear the drain gates: Remove the leaves, dirt, branches, and other debris from the outside grates so they won’t freeze and block the drains. 
  3. Repair the leaks: Check out the pipes and see if they are still running. If you see leaks, you can patch them up using DIY patch kits you can find online and repair the cracks. If there are leaks, you may be able to patch them yourself using one of the DIY patch kits on the market. Unless it is a pipe leak from your heating system or main water supply. You should contact your home foundation repair contractor to get that repaired. 
  4. Wrap insulation around the pipes: Some pipes may not drain for the winter as they are still being used. So, wrap insulation around them. It will reduce your power bill as it protects your pipes from freezing. You can find circular insulation products at your local hardware or department store. Inspect your home foundation and see if there is any exposed piping. 
  5. Inspect for gaps and airflow: There may be a space between a pipe or drain and the wall. This may bring cold air in and freeze the pipes. Add wood or plastic insulation but don’t do this for vents connected to your heating system.
  6. Call a home drainage system contractor: If you are concerned about the cracks you have found or would like an inspection, call your local home drainage professional. They can give you a consultation with recommendations.

Maryland’s freezing weather can cause serious and costly damage to your home drainage system. So, if you see any signs of cracking in your pipes, call your home foundation contractor for a consultation.

M Taylor Enterprise home foundation repair contractors can do a consultation in Prince George, Montgomery County, and Howard County, MD area. If you have seen any of these cracks in your home foundation, call our home foundation and structural repair experts in Maryland at (301) 649-3406 or matt@mtaylorenterprise.com. We will do a free consultation, make recommendations then do any needed repairs done quickly and efficiently. 

 

   

Home Foundation Repair: The Disastrous Consequences of Delaying Repair

“You may delay, but time will not.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Old Ben was right. You can procrastinate when it comes to doing much-needed home foundation repairs, but it is only delaying the inevitable, and, the “inevitable” can be costly-very costly. 

Your home is your largest financial investment. It costs more than an education, a car, or the nicest vacation. You must take care of it.

But, just to drive the point home, here are some of the disastrous consequences of delaying foundation repair on your home:

  1. Mold and mildew spreading: Mold and mildew are dangerous to your health. Spores can cause allergy attacks and make family members and guests sick and miserable. It may also spur major lung and respiratory issues.
  2. Higher utility bills: Home foundation damage and cracks can send moisture from the basement to the upper living spaces in the home. This moisture may cause cracking, warps, bowing and separations to form in the other places in your home. Humid air is pulled toward your crawl space thus making the air conditioner or heating unit work harder and longer to make your home more comfortable. Higher utility bills ensue.
  3. Property values decreasing: A damaged and the deteriorating foundation is going to cost somewhere down the line. Once a home inspector does a report, the prospective buyer won’t do it unless the foundation is satisfactorily repaired. If it isn’t repaired, the sale of the home won’t happen. It is a definite deal-breaker.
  4. Plumbing issues: Water pipes are below the foundation and susceptible to damage when the foundation expands or contracts. A home foundation repair contractor can fix them though it is an expensive repair as they are difficult to get to. Additionally, the water pipes also shift when the foundation moves, causing water damage. The plumber fees begin adding up from this type of damage. 
  5. Insect damaging the structure: Insects love dark, wet locations. They especially love basements. Termites, mosquitos, carpenter bees and other pests move from the crawl space to the kitchen, bedrooms and other places within the home. Pest control fees may soar from this infestation.
  6. Structural damage continuing: We’ve covered this before: when your home foundation goes, so goes the rest of the house. You name it, it is affected: Walls, ceilings, floors, window frames, even attached garages are affected! 
  7. Water damaging more of your home: Frame structures can have major structural damage due to water seeping into the home as cracks appear in basement walls. Crawl spaces can also be full of water. Property stored in the basement may also be damaged. If you have someone living in the basement, they are also subject to health issues from the water leaks.
  8. Getting frustrated trying to find a home foundation contractor: When you decide to get your home foundation repaired, finding a contractor to do it in the DMV/Washington D.C. Beltway area may be a daunting challenge. Foundation companies may not be available to do the work quickly, especially during the spring rainy season. *** (Though we at M. Taylor Enterprise should be able to book you for work.)

Just one of the above issues is bad enough but any combination could be a financial, and emotional, disaster! If you have any of these structural issues, call your local, licensed home foundation repair contractor immediately and get it fixed.  

M Taylor Enterprise basement waterproofing contractors can do a consultation in Prince George and Silver Spring, MD area. If you have seen any of these red flags in your home, call our home foundation and structural repair experts in Maryland at (301) 649-3406 or matt@mtaylorenterprise.com. We will do a free consultation, make recommendations then do any needed repairs done quickly and efficiently

*** More about the spring weather at this link.

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.    

 

Foundation Repair: Should You Repair or Replace?

There are many questions we face in life. Who should we marry? What should be my occupation? Where do we live? 

Another question, though maybe not in the major questions people ask, one that is quite important if you’re a homeowner: Should I repair our home foundation or repair it?

Your home is where you spend around 75% of your time. It needs to be a safe place for you and your family. If your home foundation is cracked or has other major issues, it may cause serious health problems and damage your personal property.*** 

So, before you have the home foundation repaired or replaced, which is much more costly, do the research first. Find out the following:

    1. Is it the soil?: If the soil is sinking and causing it to settle, then replacing the home foundation with a new one will not change anything. The new home foundation will sink, too. If the dirt is softening, compacting, swelling, drying or shrinking, this will greatly affect the foundation’s condition. Soil issues must be corrected on their own. A replacement home foundation is a waste of money and time. Nothing will change. The home foundation contractor will have to test the soil and add push piers that are set deep below the foundation to the bedrock. This will end the settling and permanently support the home foundation. Helical piers can also be added to the walls so the expansion and cracking will end. 
    2. Is it damaged beyond repair? If the home foundation damage is serious and widespread, replacement may be necessary. The foundation may have been built with inferior materials and poor workmanship. The foundation may then be compromised so much that it is beyond repairs. It is a pretty simple process as the house is raised, the old foundation is demolished and removed. Then the new foundation is then laid under it. However, there is much involved in planning the installation of a new foundation. The soil needs to be tested, zoning permits need to be acquired and any neighborhood requirements must be adhered to, also. A project like this requires large, heavy equipment and plenty of room for disposal receptacles. 

Replacing a home foundation is a serious and expensive move. Before you do that, have a structural engineer or home inspector do a thorough and unbiased inspection of it. Once you have done that, then ask for bids or referrals of licensed and experienced home foundation repair contractors in your area.

If you notice signs of your home foundation cracking, settling or sinking, call our home foundation repair experts at M Taylor Enterprise who can do a thorough analysis of your home foundation 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 health issues due to home foundation problems, visit this website.

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.  

How to Choose a Home Foundation Repair Contractor

The health of your home foundation is crucial. We have covered it a number of times in our blogs. If your foundation fails, the rest of your home will fail, too.

So, your decision on which home foundation repair contractor you choose may mean the difference between quality repairs or more deterioration. As we have said in a previous blog, licensing, insurance and references are all crucial factors. 

home foundation repair M Taylor Enterprise

However, there are some other factors for you to choose a foundation repair contractor: 

    1. Research the company: Read through all you can from their website. Find out what products they use. If you need Helical Piers, what types of materials do they use for them? Carbon fiber strips? See if they give details on their products. If they are short on detail (as materials and products are being updated regularly) then email them and ask if they can give you details on them.     
    2. For an unbiased opinion of your foundation, hire a preferred foundation specialized contractor or structural engineer for the assessment. The engineer should not try to sell you anything you don’t need. Their job is to recommend what you need for stability and safety. They understand structural issues as well as anyone. Once you have had this unbiased assessment from a licensed engineer, you may retain them for oversight, too. 
    3. Training: Once you have requested an assessment, confirm that the company doing the analysis has structural training. They should have varied training and instruction as most foundations have issues which require more than just one solution.  
    4. Product quality: You may shop at the Dollar Store for bargains. But, you don’t want the cheapest, off-brand materials for your home foundation and waterproofing needs. You want to avoid having to go through this whole process again. You may also encounter companies which have not guaranteed their work. Make sure you get a warranty and that the foundation repair contractor has a local office.
    5. Customer Service: Treatment of customers is so important. If the home foundation repair company has your best interests in mind by taking care of and answering all of your questions. M Taylor enterprise excels in taking care of our clients from the beginning of the foundation repair project to the end. So, whether it’s the first phone call to the final signature of the documents, you need to be treated well and thoughtfully. Also, if you contacted them through their website, were they prompt in returning your inquiry? 

Your home has only one foundation. When the time comes to repair it, don’t rush it. Research it. Then hire them. 

M Taylor Enterprise, Montgomery County, Maryland, has licensed and experienced professional structural engineers and foundation repair specialists who can do a thorough review of your structure and make recommendations. Call us for a consultation at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.

 

 

Cracking Up: How Foundation Repair Can Save Your Home

foundation repairs M Taylor Enterprise“It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; its the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.”

~ David Allan Coe

While Mr. Coe is a country music singer and composer, he’d make a good construction consultant because he’s right. Your home’s foundation is the solid rock on which it stands. If it falters, cracks or falls, your home could suffer major expensive structural damage which is not covered under property insurance policies.

Additionally, foundation damage makes it impossible to sell. Once the foundation issues are discovered, prospective buyers will either demand it be repaired, ask for it a greatly reduced price or withdraw any interest in buying it at all.

Bottom line: Your home’s foundation needs to be strong. There can be no compromise.

Below are some signs that your home’s foundation is in structural trouble:

  1. a damaged foundation means walls may buckle and cave in
  2. chimneys pull away from the structure causing even more damage
  3. increased moisture in the home creating damp atmosphere for mold and mildew
  4. settling basement slabs break sewer waste pipes below the slab causing severe health and safety issues

As you can see, a damaged foundation threatens your largest property investment: your home. It also may threaten your family or renters in your home. When the above are discovered, action needs to be taken pretty quickly to protect it from any further damage and deterioration.

So, here are several ways foundation repairs, done by licensed building contractors, can be done to your home:

  1. Waterproofing: This may mean installing an exterior waterproofing membrane which creates an impermeable barrier on outside of the foundation; installing an exterior drain tile along the membrane to lessen pressure on the walls to drain water or doing some exterior crack repair.
  2. Grading: Unless the ground around your foundation drops 2-3 inches for every ten feet away from your home’s foundation, you may have some serious drainage issues. The lawn slope needs to be graded to meet those guidelines.
  3. Masonry repairs: Cracked mortar is usually the culprit in damage to brick foundations. The mortar may have also deteriorated. Masonry then needs to be removed and replaced.

Those are common foundation issues but it could also be problems with the footings, concrete, or drainage systems. A licensed building contractor who is experienced in foundation building and repair should inspect it. They can then give you an itemized list of repairs that need to be made.

Taylor Enterprise has an experienced team of contractors who can repair any and all foundation problems. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or email  matt@mtaylorenterprise.com. We serve the Silver Spring, MD and Washington, D.C. area.