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Foundation Repair Information and Advice

clock October 17, 2010 18:15 by author blogadmin
Expansion soils cause foundation failure and wall cracks. Contact a professional engineer to make the necessary foundation and basement repairs.



Repairing potential foundation problems should be a priority for every homeowner. Foundation repairs prevent little problems from becoming bigger, keep your home safe, and protect the value of your property. Fortunately, foundation problems tend to develop and worsen slowly, giving you time to make a thorough evaluation and decide on the proper action for the repairs.

Foundation Cracks

Foundation wall cracks that are less than .064” wide typically do not leak. Any crack repair performed on these cracks is cosmetic only. Larger foundation cracks or ruptures do need to be addressed. These cracks are signs that you have, or had, foundation movement.Each type of crack gives you a clue to what is happening with your foundation. Stair step cracks, cracks that follow the grout lines between blocks or bricks, generally indicate settlement. Cracks that are wider at the top also indicate settlement. Horizontal cracks generally indicate bowing or inward movement. Repairing cracks and patching cracks should not be confused. Patching a crack is merely Band-Aiding a possible problem. Crack repair is much more involved and require special training and specialized equipment. Before structural crack repairs are performed contact a professional engineer for guidance.

Foundation Drainage

A common culprit is water accumulation in the soil around the foundation, which expands the soil and puts pressure on walls and foundation footings, causing cracks to appear. Check to make sure all gutters and downspout drains are in good working order, and that the soil around your foundation is properly graded—it should slope at least 6 inches for every 10 horizontal feet.

Most foundations are required to have a perimeter drain system that channels sub-surface water away from the foundation. The drain system is made of concrete tiles or perforated plastic pipe buried in a gravel bed. It usually drains externally (a pipe that opens onto a low spot in your yard), or connects to your sewer system.

It’s possible for this drain to become blocked, causing water to accumulate in the soil and putting pressure on your foundation walls. If you suspect a blocked perimeter foundation drain, seek the advice of a licensed foundation contractor.

Buckled or Bowing Walls

A foundation wall that has tipped, bowed, or severely cracked requires substantial reinforcement to prevent further deterioration. Repairing basement walls from the inside is usually accomplished carbon-fiber mesh or wall anchors spaced 4-6 feet apart along the entire wall.

Carbon fiber wall repair involves placing vertical strips of high strength carbon fiber in a bed of an epoxy compound. These carbon fiber strips will strengthen the wall far beyond its original strength. While it will not straighten a wall, carbon fiber repair will greatly strengthen basement walls that have not bowed more than 2”.

Wall plate anchors are also strengthen basement walls along with being able to straighten them. They consist of metal plates placed in your yard (installed by excavating), and metal wall plates on the inside of your foundation walls The plates are connected by steel rods that can be tightened to pull the wall back outward.
Helical tieback anchors perform the same functions as wall plate anchors. Helical anchors have tremendous strength and require engineering calculations to install correctly. The largest difference between helical tieback and wall anchors is the amount of excavating required. Helical tiebacks require full excavation on the outside of the basement wall opposed to wall anchors that only requires spot excavation.

Foundations and Expansive Soils

If your house is out of level and there is no obvious reason, it may sit on soil that expands when damp and shrinks when dry. This so-called “expansive soil” is found in all states and has damaged about a quarter of all houses in the U.S., according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. If you suspect you have the problem, check with your local building authority to see if expansive soils exist in your area.

Dealing with this kind of soil is most difficult if you have a slab foundation because access beneath the slab is limited. The first remediation is to reduce moisture fluctuations of the soil around and under your home. Making sure soil slopes away from the house, and draining away all gutter and downspout water is necessary.

Professional Engineering

Trustworthy advice comes from a professional engineer. An initial visit should reveal the severity of your problem and tell you what to do next. In the end, you should get a written report that makes specific recommendations and lays out pros and cons of each option. If you need a complicated fix, you might want to hire the engineer by the hour to inspect while work is underway.


Solving Common Rain Gutter Problems

clock October 10, 2010 15:43 by author blogadmin
Clean your gutters from leaves and debris to avoid standing water. Clogged gutters lead to flooding and major foundation repairs.



Your gutters are designed to perform one simple, yet very important task—collect and move water away from your foundation. While this sounds like a very simple function it is also critical in protecting your home from flooding and structural damage. Even with only a ½” rain, on a 2,000 square foot roof, produces 1,000 gallons of water for your gutter system to move. Now that’s a lot of water!

For your gutter system to perform its duty properly, they have to be kept in good shape, clean and free of clogs, holes, and sagging. A well maintained gutter system will provide you with years of service and protect your home from costly basement flooding and foundation repairs. Fortunately, solving common rain gutter problems is fairly simple, requiring only a ladder, a hammer, a three foot level and a little free time.

Missing Gutters

If your house has no gutters, consider having a system installed immediately. The amount of damage that uncontrolled rain water can cause is staggering. It is not a coincidence that Texas has many homes without gutters and they also have the highest incidence of foundation problems. Missing gutters can also have devastating effects on windows and siding. The costs of adding gutters varies greatly due to options, materials and linear footage.

Leaking, Dripping Gutters

Leaking gutter joints need to be sealed by caulking the joint from the inside with a gutter sealant, found at most hardware stores. This is a fairly simple repair that only costs about $5. Other than large areas of damage, gutter sealant will seal holes and joint issues. If you have a large hole or a severely disconnected seam, using gutter sealant with a patching material usually will suffice. Many Kansas City hardware stores carry a gutter patching kit with simple instructions.

Clogged Gutters and Downspouts

Clogging is the most common gutter problem. Whether from leaves, roof debris or toys, gutters can get clogged and cause water to flow over their edges and down along side of your foundation. Left untended, clogged gutters and downspouts will contribute to possible basement flooding. Recently I had to remove eight golf balls from my downspout that was overflowing (evidently golf balls sound neat running down gutters and downspouts). The amount of debris that can buildup within your gutters can really add up to a significant amount of weight that can cause sagging and standing water. You can clean your gutters yourself if you’re comfortable on a ladder, don’t mind getting wet and dirty, and don’t have an extremely tall house. After cleaning out the heavy deposits, flush the gutters with a garden hose to make sure they’re flowing properly. If you prefer, you can hire someone to do the job for you for, between $50 and $250. Cleaning, or having your gutters cleaned at least once a year, or twice a year if you have a lot of trees nearby is standard. If you have many trees hanging over your home or have a chronic clogging problem, some type of gutter cover may be necessary. Most area hardware stores have mesh style covers that can be effective. There are also many different proprietary gutter covers on the market, such as the Gutter Helmet, Gutter Guard, LeafX, Gutter Topper and LeafGuard. Each has its own unique design yet they all are designed to keep debris, including golf balls, out of your gutter system.

Poor Gutter Slope

The first rule when dealing with water is – water runs downhill. Gutters need to be sloped toward the downspouts for the water to flow well. The standard is ¼” downward slope per 10’ of horizontal run. This is where your level comes into play. A visual inspection inside your gutter will also let you know if you have a gutter slope or pitch problem. Grab your ladder after a rain or cleaning and look in the gutter; if there’s standing water, you have a problem.

Downspouts Draining Next to the Foundation

Downspouts that drain next to your foundation is the number one cause of basement flooding and foundation repairs. Rain water needs to be directly at least 10’ beyond the foundation. This can be accomplished above grade or below grade. While splash blocks help they just are not long enough to keep water away from your foundation. Due to mowing and aestitics, running drain pipe below grade to a exit grate or popup emitter is the best solution. Professional waterproofing and foundation contractors can do this project at very reasonable rates. While this project seems fairly simple, many variables must be considered and this is best left to professionals due to its importance.

Fortunately, most common gutter problems are easy to fix. A general maintenance plan is simple and well worth the effort to prevent much larger problems down the road. Take the time to walk around your home next weekend and look for visual clues to your overall water drainage system. Are the gutter and downspouts running clear? Are the downspouts discharging at least 10’ from the foundation? Is the soil around your foundation sloped away from the foundation? Has there been obvious spillover from your guttering system? Take some time to solve these problems or call a local Kansas City professional to look at them for you.

Which Sump Pump is Best?

clock October 4, 2010 10:29 by author blogadmin
When selecting a good sump pump, check for a good warranty and find out how much water it pumps. These things will determine the life expectancy of your sump pump.


When deciding to replace or install a sump pump, it is very important to do your homework first.  A quality sump pump can mean the difference between a dry, healthy living space in your basement, and a wet, moldy, insect infested cellar.  Your sump pump is the most important equipment you can have for a healthy, dry home, know what you’re getting. 

When selecting a sump pump, the two most important things to know are:  What is the warranty on the pump?  You need at least 18 months for a warranty, 3 years is good, 5 years is great.  And, how much water can it pump?  Pumps are measured in gallons per hour (GPH) and somewhere around 3000 GPH at 10’ of head is what you should look for.  Head pressure is the length in vertical feet the pump will have to pump to discharge water.  Some manufacturers will try to mislead their GPH numbers by giving large gallons per hour ratings at only 5 vertical feet or even 0 feet of head pressure, instead of 10 feet.  A typical sump pump system in basements will have 10-14 feet of head pressure.  Don’t be fooled by inflated numbers.  Be sure you are comparing apples-to-apples. 

Side-by-side sump pump testing is the best way to determine which unit is truly superior. While this is generally not feasible for a homeowner to do, I have done it for you.  

Our test set up is the ECP BSP 50 in a tank with 50 gallons of water and 12 ½ feet of head pressure to discharge.  12 ½ feet of head was used as an average/common discharge height for a typical basement.  The test runs for 60 seconds to accurately depict how many gallons per minute (GPM x 60 = GPH) the BSP 50 can pump at that height.  The leading competitors sump pump was set up exactly the same way and both pumps started simultaneously.  The video of this sump pump comparison test is available on YouTube.   

The result of the test speaks for itself.  The ECP BSP 50 pumps 31% more water than the leading competitor.  Take into account that the BSP 50 is also the energy efficiency leader in the industry and the ECP Sump Basin allows pumps to run less due to its shape, avoiding short cycling.  Your pump system will run less, using less energy while still pumping more water.  You will find more information about the ECP BSP 50 on their website. 



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