Category Archives: Basement Waterproofing

Winter Tips

State Farm posts this advice for cold winter temperatures and storms-

When the mercury plummets

Even if you’ve taken the right preventative steps, extreme weather conditions can still harm your pipes. Here are a few more steps you can take:

  • A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
  • Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during both day and night. You might be in the habit of turning down the heat when you’re asleep, but further drops in the temperature—more common overnight—could catch you off guard and freeze your pipes.
  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.

Before you skip town

Travelling in the winter months might be good for the soul, but don’t forget to think about your pipes before you leave. What can you do?

  • Set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55°F (12°C).
  • Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it’s warm enough to prevent freezing.
  • Shut off and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it may be deactivated when you shut off the water.

If your pipes do freeze

What if your pipes still freeze, despite your best preventive measures? First step: Don’t panic. Just because they’re frozen doesn’t mean they’ve already burst. Here’s what you can do:

  • If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber.
  • Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water. You could be electrocuted.
  • Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame because it could cause a fire hazard. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house!
  • You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe using a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe.
  • If your water pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it.

Basement Moisture

Efflorescence may be an indication of of continuing moisture penetration through foundation walls and slabs or it could be residue remaining from construction and curing. Efflorescence is caused by sulfate crystallization. masonryinstitute.org publishes the following-
“…before sulfates can cause efflorescence the salts must be dissolved into solution by water. If no moisture reached the sulfates then they cannot be rendered into solution and migrate to the surface where the water will evaporate, leaving the sulfate salts on the surface to crystallize and become efflorescence. Attention must be given to preventing any soluble alkaline from being rendered into solution by water.”

Keeping downspouts and gutters clear of leaves and debris, to allow water to flow freely away from the foundation, and keeping landscaping at least 2-3 feet from the foundation will aid in preventing foundation moisture penetration.

Basement Mold and Water

Exposed dirt floors in basements and crawl spaces are problematic due to the moisture rising on convection driven air flow. Moisture can reach the upper levels of building through utility chases, voids, and stairways via stack effect http://www.epa.gov/iaq/largebldgs/pdf_files/sec_2.pdf  transporting indoor air contaminants with it.
Including the crawlspace or basement in the building’s overall thermal boundary optimizes energy efficiency and creates more effective moisture control. Encapsulating dirt floor crawl spaces and basements without insulating the exposed subfloor www.myhomescience.com/insulating-crawl-space/ better regulates building temperature.

Fall Yard Work

The most important thing to remember to include as part of fall yard work is to prepare outdoor faucets for winter. Remove hoses and be certain exterior water spigots are shut off. It may be a good idea to have a plumber look at exterior spigots to be certain there is no threat of a pipe break.
Fall is a good time to trim landscaping to keep plants away from buildings and foundations. Gutters, downspouts and extensions should be cleared and cleaned so water will flow freely through them.

Real Estate Ethics

Property inspection is fundamental to successful real estate purchases. A competent inspector, completing an objective assessment, will identify apparent/potential deficiencies and save prospective buyers untold future expense and lingering unhappiness.

Competence and unbiased opinion is also a quality cornerstone in selecting a licensed real estate agent for representation. Truthful disclosure is absolutely necessary to protect all parties, including the realtor.
Realtor Mag from the National Association of Realtors offers the following-

“Dilemma 1: Should I Disclose That?

“REALTORS® shall avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts relating to the property or the transaction.” (Article 2)

The scenario: Your seller client tells you that a home inspector recently was suspicious of insect damage when he saw the home’s damaged siding. However, the seller disputes that notion, saying he’s never had an insect problem in or around the home.

The risk: Withholding pertinent facts from buyers.

What to do: Disclose anything that affects the value or desirability of the home, says Bruce Aydt, ABR®, CRB, general counsel and senior vice president of St. Louis-based Prudential Alliance, REALTORS®. That may include insect damage, water leakage, structural problems, and more.

Otherwise, you’re putting yourself at risk of serious legal action. “I think some agents are unaware of the potential liability and might agree with the home owner and keep quiet,” Aydt says.

Practitioners may be stumped because they don’t know whether or not a particular fact is important enough to share with prospective buyers, Aydt says. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s best to err on the side of disclosure.

You’re not the expert; the home inspector is. So if a home inspector says there’s a problem, but the seller disagrees, you have to stick with the assessment of the inspector.

What if sellers refuse to disclose, and urges you to do the same? It’s the safest practice to surrender your listing, Aydt says. The legal risks to you are simply too great.

 

Efflorescence

Efflorescence is sometimes confused for mold growth in basements. While it doesn’t pose the same concerns that microbial growth does, it is an indication of moisture  requiring attention and repair maintenance. Green Building Advisor posts more information and offers some solutions.

Moisture Control Guidance

The EPA publishes Moisture Control Guidance for Building Design, Construction and Maintenance. Site Drainage is fundamental to effective moisture control. There is a pdf. section devoted to construction methods in basement and crawl space condensation control. Basement waterproofing and crawl space repair can restrict condensation accumulation in existing buildings.