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Radon and Your Home

clock March 31, 2009 19:53 by author blogadmin
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Test your home for radon so you can stop this silent intruder from harming your family.

Radon is an inert gas that comes from below the earth’s surface.  To see the radon level in your area visit the EPA’s website. Radon gas is a by-product of uranium, and is found all over the world. It is the second greatest cause of lung cancer after smoking and causes more deaths per year than drunk drivers. This is not an article intended to scare, it is intended to inform. When it comes to radon, the general population falls into three categories: the informed, the uninformed and the misinformed.

  • The informed have tested and mitigated where warranted.
  • The uninformed don’t know anything about radon.
  • The misinformed believe that radon exists and is a problem only in certain locations, all far removed from them.

Radon is colorless, odorless and tasteless, and it creeps into our homes, offices and schools through cracks and other openings in the foundation of the building.  Once inside it decays into alpha particles that damage the DNA of lung tissue, a major cause of lung cancer. Once identified as a problem, radon mitigation can be implemented for a very reasonable cost.  Some states like Colorado already require radon-resistant design as part of new home construction. Testing for radon is easy and homeowners can do it themselves.

TheRadonLady.com has a link to one reliable source of radon test kits.  These are the same kits that are used by Radon Professionals for real estate transactions. There are many other sources on the web for passive test kits along with electronic units. Some people are afraid to test for radon because they think that mitigation will be costly, yet the cost is significantly less than what is added to a new vehicle for other safety features like airbags, seatbelts and crushable auto body parts.  The systems are fairly simple, yet very effective. When a house is sold, the radon system remains, a bonus to the buyer.

The Radon Lady (who is a licensed professional) recommends that everyone test their home themselves with both short term and long term testing.  Short term testing is for 48 hours and give a “snapshot” of the radon buildup over the two days.  Long term testing is 90+ days (6 months is recommended) and shows what the radon levels are like during “normal living conditions.”  “I suggest an initial short term test for approximately $16.  Depending on the radon levels mitigation might be warranted and that’s good to know.  Even if the radon levels are low, however, long term testing should always be implemented.  It costs only $25 and is really the decisive factor of how the home, office or classroom is affected . 

Test your home for radon today, you owe it to your family.



Expectations of Waterproofing

clock March 28, 2009 16:39 by author blogadmin
Understanding what type of waterproofing needs to be done and the limitation of this work is the first step to fixing your homes water problems. Sealed interior waterproofing systems are the best choice for basement waterproofing.

Basement waterproofing contractors usually provide some form of drainage system as one of their services to solve a wet basement or crawlspace. While drainage is critical to solving water problems, it is also crucial that homeowners understand the purpose and limitations of waterproofing their homes.

 

The definition of waterproofing is the process of making an area impervious to or unaffected by water. Residential waterproofing is necessary to allow basements and crawlspaces to become useful areas of the home. Basements can be converted to new living space without the usually damp and musty smells that generally accompany a basement. Methods of waterproofing include exterior and interior systems, each having their benefits and drawbacks.

 

Much criticism of interior waterproofing has been made due to the unregulated nature of the industry. Many less than credible contractors install systems without real knowledge of their actions.  These objections can be overcome with a sealed system of basement waterproofing. By not allowing collected moisture to re-enter a home these sealed systems can help with decreasing humidity, mold spore and radon levels by their nature of being sealed.

 

These waterproofing systems are installed along the interior perimeter of the basement dumping their contents into a sump pit then expelled by a sump pump. The drain tile is installed next to the footing and encased in crushed stone to filter potential clogs. Once the drain tile is set in place and connected together the system is completely covered with concrete keeping the water and gases from entering the interior living space. While many basement waterproofing systems install below the floor on sealed systems install next to the footing instead of being placed on top.

 

Systems that are placed on top of the footing are done so to gather water that runs down the walls. The major issue to with this type of system is the back is left open for wall water. This open back design also allows collected water and gases to reenter the living space causing higher humidity levels and possible radon infiltration. So when your basement must be waterproofed from the interior specify a sealed drainage system to protect your home and family.



Foundation Repair for Basement or Slab Foundations

clock March 22, 2009 19:26 by author blogadmin
The solution to fixing a settling foundation, is to hire a professional engineer. An expert can provide foundation repair methods to make your home stable.

Does your basement or slab foundation need repaired?

Understanding the reasons for foundation repairs is the first step to deciding which method is best for your home. It is crucial for homeowners to not only understand the reasons for foundation repairs but also the limitations of said repairs. Homeowners must also know who to contact for these repairs. There are many different methods and solutions that must be waded through before making the correct decision for your home and family.

Foundation repair is defined as: the art of underpinning or stabilizing a structure that has moved from its originally constructed design.To underpin a home or structure one must extend the current foundation into a soil strata or layer that is deeper and more stable than the current soil that the foundation is resting upon. This is accomplished by providing additional support from the current footing or wall via piers or anchors. Methods of foundation repairs include push piers, plate anchors, helical anchors or drilled concrete piles.

The people responsible for designing and instituting these methods include foundation engineers and foundation repair contractors. A foundation engineer is responsible to evaluate the structure in question and then provide a proposal for his design. Generally the engineer will recommend a foundation repair contractor to carry out his proposed plan for repair and then sign off on this plan upon the completion of fixing your foundation problem. While it is not always legally necessary for an engineer to be involved it is highly recommended anytime structural repairs are executed.

Inadequate soil conditions are caused by several factors. With suitable building sites becoming more scarce many home builders have been building houses on less than ideal lots. These subpar lots have less than suitable soil conditions to support many structures. There are also homes built on expansive soils that shrink and swell as rainfall and moisture levels change. Due to these conditions foundation support products must be utilized to supply support from deeper layers that are not as affected by fluctuating moisture levels. This underpinning provides a way to lift the home to an acceptable level and prevent additional settlement.

Slab on grade or pier and beam foundations are the most susceptible to weak or expanding soils. Due to the nature of having a large surface area resting on the uppermost soil layers these foundations have a tendency to move as the soil moves. Most slab on grade homes are monolithically poured with the slab and beams cast together creating a rigid foundation. This rigid foundation becomes susceptible to differential settlement when moisture levels under the slab do not remain consistent. This can result from broken water lines, poor drainage or even inadequate guttering. Trees can also affect soils by their roots drying out areas under these slabs while the rest of the slab has normal moisture content.

Differential settlement causes slab on grade foundations to rise on the perimeter (dish) or fall around the perimeter (dome). Steel push piers and helical piers are generally an engineer’s recommended solution for these conditions. These piers penetrate through unstable soils down to a more consistent soil layer that has adequate strength to support the structure. These piering systems provide a deep foundation that can now be lifted off of to regain an adequate elevation.

In the case of homes with basements, expansive clay soils that have been over saturated with water can cause hydrostatic pressure on walls. This newly imposed pressure can cause wall bowing and concrete cracking. In extreme cases, catastrophic failure can occur from these wall stresses. When basement homes are originally designed it is with normal moisture content. Poor drainage often causes undue pressure to build behind basement walls exerting forces on the basement foundation. This is often the source of concrete cracking and water to infiltrate the space. Once again it is generally the differential movement that causes the foundation repair problem.

There are two common fixes to bowing basement walls. Plate Anchors (wall anchors) are an effective solution for many homes. These wall anchors are embedded into competent soils beyond a zone of influence surrounding the structure. Threaded rods are then connected to these anchors on one end with the opposite end being attached to a wall plate inside the basement. With this system total excavation is not required and because of this additional soil load, wall recovery is accomplished over time with continued tightening of the anchor rods.

Next, there are helical tiebacks. This system of basement or retaining wall anchoring involves the complete excavation of the affected area. Helical anchors are screwed into the soil hydraulically, and then attached with a wall plate situated inside the basement wall. With the full excavation the wall can be instantaneously pulled back to plumb. The helical anchor can resist very heavy loads due to their design and the fact of their installation force equates to their resisting force.

Whatever the solution to your concrete cracks knowing the cause of your foundation problem is the first step to fixing your foundation. Hiring a professional engineer is always the first step to making your home structurally sound. Now go out and check your foundation for a concrete crack or settlement.



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