Fix a Leaky Basement

Do you have a wet basement? It can be more than a simple nuisance. It can damage drywall, framing and even furniture. Even the mild case of condensation can buckle hardwood floors on the above level. It is estimated that about 60% of North Americans have wet basements. Leaky basements are caused by condensation, runoff or subsurface seepage. Let’s examine the three of them.

Condensation

This is the most basic of wet basement issues. It appears on basement floors and walls as water drops, wet spots or puddles. This problem is caused by warm air meeting the cool foundation walls or the uninsulated water pipes. For mild cases of condensation, often airing out the basement will do the trick. You may also consider investing in a dehumidifier to keep the basement nice and dry.

You can prevent condensation in the basement by keeping the temperature relatively warm in the winter. You should also use foam insulation on your cold-water pipes to prevent condensation. If you have concrete walls, you can also damp-proof them with a waterproof coating.

Runoff

Melted snow and rainwater can cause damage to a basement if it is not routed away from the house. The runoff water travels through the soil, stopping at the foundation base. This water can then seep through the cracks in the wall or the footings.

To avoid this type of problem, make sure that the water runs away from the house. The ground should be sloped at least 1 inch for every 4 feet. You should also ensure that your downspout don’t runoff right next to the house. Any pooling or percolating of water near the foundations can have costly implications. Add downspout extensions so the water drains a few feet away from the foundation.

One way to fix this issue is to patch any cracks in the foundations and to seal the basement walls. You should also patch any cracks in the driveway to avoid having water collect below grade. Keeping your gutters clean will prevent any overflow. If you have a particularly soggy area, you should consider installing a dry well which will allow the water to soak into the ground slowly.

Subsurface seepage

If you have runoff symptoms all the time, you may be dealing with high groundwater. You should check with your city to find out if there are underground springs or if the water table is high. In this case, you may have to call in a professional. The solution may be to install a sump pump. Depending on the severity of the problem, you may also have to install drains either inside the footings of the foundation or outside at the base of the footings.

As with most problems, prevention is often the best cure. To avoid a leaky basement, make sure that you use a dehumidifier and that your water pipes are covered. Regularly clean your gutters and install extensions to move the runoff water away from the house.

Armadillo Contracting is a small company offering wet basement solutions. Visit the website to learn how to fix a leaky basement.

10 Warning Signs

It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure out your home needs foundation repair.
There are several overt signs that make it apparent there is a issue, or that the house
is sinking. Look for these signs and call a home foundation professional to double
check. Take these with a grain of salt. Only a certified foundation inspection agent can tell you for sure. Fortunately many companies offer free inspections.

10 Warning Signs You Could Need Foundation Repair

Cracks in walls on the inside of the house- Corners of windows will crack horizontally
and doors will pull away and not shut properly.

Cracks in your fireplace bricks- When bricks start cracking, you know you have a problem,
since they are more stable than drywall.

Previously fixed Nail heads protruding out backwards- This means the gypsum board is being compromised, or bending based on the house leaning, or sinking one way another.

Windows and doors aren’t fitting squarely- Try raising and closing all doors and windows. Are they uneven?That’s a big sign.

Windows on the outside of the house have cracks that run diagonally – This is a slightly different crack that you will see from windows within the house because the caulk joints could be pulling apart too.

Cracks in the exposed concrete at the base of the house – If they are small it could be a non-structural problem, or it could be the first sign of trouble. Check with an inspector to be sure.

Standing water around the house after a rainfall – This could also have something to do with having improper drainage which should also be addressed.

Leaky roof- This could have to do with foundation, or poor roofing. If the roof is in good shape and is relatively new, then it is a foundation problem.

Trees too close to the house- This can cause roots to sidewind under and around the house, cut through concrete, and cause problems.

Roof runoff from gutters not draining away from the house- If once it drains into the yard, the water stays and doesn’t diffuse to a lower place such as a ditch, there could be a problem.

Are you seeing any of these signs? I hope not. Depending on what part of the country you are in, your home may be more susceptible to these issues.

Also, the price of fixing the foundation could depend on the age of your home, weather conditions, the size of your home, and several other variables.

Neil Lemons represents Power Jack Foundation Repair, a Texas-based foundation repair company serving the DFW Since 1991. To learn more about foundation repair services in Lewisville, Mesquite, Garland, or other DFW suburbs visit Power Jack’s website, http://www.pjfr.com

A House with Cracks

You look up at the ceiling and there’s a crack. You walk to another room, and another crack maps its way around the doorframe. Then you see up and down cracks, and cracks that are sideways. Your first thought is foundation problems. Then you instantly think the correction is piers. But cracks can indicate much more, such as a slab leak. Or, it can be less – a simple settling crack. And better yet, simple yard maintenance might correct some of the foundation issues.

Before you jump to conclusions, first notify your insurance provider. “It’s amazing how many homeowners call a foundation company before the insurance company,” says Todd Stephens, vice president of JS Engineering. “There’re necessary steps to take in evaluating a problem before deciding that the foundation needs repairing.”

After an insurance claim is filed, the insurance company will send an adjuster to photograph and look at the damage. According to the information on the report, then the insurance provider will decided what licensed professionals to send to the home. If there is a plumbing leak suspected, then a leak locating service will test and isolate any suspected leaks. If no leaks are found, the claim is ended at this point, and the homeowner can do what he feels necessary.

In many states, insurance companies investigate foundation concerns due to an “accidental discharge of water.” This includes water leaking from the sewer system, water system, bathtub and shower drains, and the sprinkler lines next to the house. All of these will be tested as part of the forensic investigation at no cost to the homeowner.

If there is a leak indicated during the plumbing test, the insurance company contacts an engineering firm to perform further testing. There is a misconception that the engineering firm works directly for the insurance company. This is incorrect. The company is employed by the insurance provider and acts as an unbiased third party. “We record data and base our opinions on the data and on the statements by the homeowner solely,” says Stephens. “We do not get involved on the insurance coverage side of the investigation – that is between the homeowner and the insurance company. We do our job, and the end result doesn’t effect the engineering firm.”

During the structural investigation the house is measured and drawn to scale. Then floor elevations are measured. An interior and exterior site inspection is performed with photographs. A crack inventory is made and the residential history is discussed with the homeowner. “These are the pieces of the puzzle that help us determine whether or not the plumbing leak caused any structural damage,” says Stephens.

After the investigation is complete and a report is submitted to the insurance company, the insurance adjuster will typically meet with the homeowner and discuss the findings.
This entire process usually takes 30 to 45 days from start to finish. The homeowner receives the original copy of the report for his records.
The report includes recommendations on how to correct and stabilize the foundation, whether it is from foundation repair from the insurance company or a lawn maintenance program – such as sprinkler system or root barriers.

Many homeowners are surprised at the extent of the investigations performed at no cost. The only cost incurred by the homeowner is the deductible that is often paid during the plumbing repairs, following the completion of the structural inspection.

Homeowners need to be aware of the time needed for inspections and repairs. Therefore, if you are considering listing your home for sale, these issues need to be tended to before putting the home on the market. Give yourself at least 60 to 90 days to check foundation or plumbing issues in your home.

So the next time you see sheetrock cracks, get prepared. Structural cracks are a good indication that there’s possibly a problem with your home.

Helena Hill is a Dallas real estate broker and a contributor to the Flower Mound Homes Weblog.

Gardening – The Mulberry

April 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Home Safety Tips

The mulberry tree belongs to the Morus genus that consists of about 12 species found over Mediterranean and north temperate regions with two being native to North America. The commonly cultivated black mulberry comes from an ancient line which has now been introduced into many countries of the world. It is believed to have been in cultivation for over 5000 years. It has variable leaf forms.

It produces a delicious fruit which is plentiful in summer and that ripens over a period long enough to enjoy the harvest for some weeks as the green berries mature to red or black. It is a notoriously difficult fruit to harvest, as are all the soft berry fruits, so there is ample scope for an enterprising soul to consider a way of developing an easier and efficient harvest and offering a new commercial crop.

In home gardens mulberry picking is enjoyed by children who are capable of exploring to seek to enjoy the sweet rewards as well as picking an amount for common consumption. However, they should be tutored to use the green, inedible fruit to rub away the persistent stains from the ripe fruit.

The White Mulberry, Morus alba is known as Sang Ye in China where it originated. It was introduced into Europe about 1434 from the Levant where it was cultivated mainly for the purpose of providing food for silkworms. It was introduced and is now naturalised in the U.S. providing an important food for wildlife. In Australian gardens it is welcome as a tasty home fruit, sweet and marketable also. The leaves when fed to silkworms produce a light yellow silk.

The tender young leaves are edible in small quantities when fresh or can be cooked as spinach. The leaves are used medicinally for treatment of fever and externally for ringworm. The root skin provides a medicine for bronchitis. The fruits which vary from pink to deep red/black are delicious to eat and in China it is regularly recommended to relieve insomnia, flu, high blood pressure, vertigo and other complaints. Fruit contains vitamins a B1, B2 and C.

Texas Mulberry or Morus microphylla grows as a small tree in the canyons of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona where it was once cultivated by Indians of the area and it is still considered a food source.

White Mulberry is a native of France Morus multicaulis

Black Mulberry, English Mulberry Morus nigra originated in Iran and known in antiquity when it was apparently much appreciated for its large, sweet juicy fruit. This is the species preferred by consumers large succulent fruits are delicious and sweeter, more flavoursome than the white mulberry. The unripe fruit when crushed, removes the stains from the ripe and often messy fruit. The leaves produce a lovely golden silk thread when fed to silkworms.

Red Mulberry, Morus rubra is a native of Nth America found from Vermont to Sth Dakota and south to Florida. Finely toothed leaves are coated with soft down in autumn. Red fruits are of inferior quality.

The Black Mulberry Morus nigra is often known as the English Mulberry for the following reason. In England James I tried to introduce a new silk industry into England. He issued a Royal edict recommending the cultivation of silkworms and urging the Shires to buy and distribute 10,000 mulberry plants of Morus nigra to all who would sow them, only to be advised that it was the wrong species of mulberry and the enterprise was abandoned. That is the reason that there are many ancient Black Mulberry trees still existing in England and very few old White ones. Regrettably, it was later discovered that both species of mulberry were used in the orient for silk.

Shakespeare’s mentions a mulberry – a Black Mulberry – and that it was not suitable for rearing silkworms, so reflecting the general disappointment of the times.

There is one surviving Mulberry tree in the private grounds of Buckingham Palace to this day. It still is bearing but in no way remarkable in size or spread.

Mulberry leaf is an old cottage remedy for ringworm. A very important purpose of the fruit is as a food supplement in the diet of heart patients, with some remarkable beneficial results.

For those who wish to introduce the Australian home hobby for children by keeping a few silkworms it can offer a fascinating and interesting experience for both infants and parents. Unfortunately there is little ultimate pleasure to be had from the silk produced, but it is certainly an exercise in nature studies!

It would be best to be sure of adequate supply of leaves by having planted your own trees in the yard, or at least enquire about a reliable and close alternative source. The leaves are best when fresh but keep for a little time in the fridge. It may be interesting for those unfamiliar with silkworm culture to know that if mulberry leaves for any reason are not available, a temporary diet of beetroot leaves will produce pink tinted silk and lettuce leaves will tend to give lemon coloured thread.

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Gardening

Home Remodeling Tips

April 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Home Safety Tips

When many homeowners think about having to remodel their house, the first thought to come to their mind is that it is going to cost a lot of money to get the house to look the way that they want it to. However, that is not always the case. Homeowners to not have to have a very large budget to get the house to look the way that they want because there are a lot of project homeowners can do themselves in order to same some money here and there. A lot of do it yourself projects are cheaper then if you were to hire someone to do the job for you and if you do the project yourself you are sure to get the results that you are looking for.

The first step when you are going to remodel your house is to see what projects you can handle on your own. If you are a handy person and good at construction then there may be a lot of projects that you can do yourself. Once you have decided what project you would like to work on then next step is to search on the Internet to see if there are any home remodeling tips available for the specific project you are working on. There are many Web sites on the Internet that are dedicated to helping individuals with projects to work on around the house, therefore there is sure to be an abundance of tips available no matter what project you choose.

Even if you are not a very crafty person and do not have a lot of construction experience there are still plenty of projects that you can complete around the house by yourself to help with the remodeling project. Once task that is rather simple to do is to update the home hardware throughout the entire house. This may seem like a rather insignificant project in regards to home remodeling, however installing hardware such as new cabinet knobs and pulls in to the kitchen cabinets can make a big difference. Updating the kitchen and bathroom cabinet knobs is a rather cheap project and if you do it yourself you can save yourself a lot of money than hiring someone to do it for you.

In addition to cabinet and door hardware another simple project for homeowners to work on during a remodel is installing new lighting fixtures and accessories. Updated lighting fixtures in the kitchen, bathroom, living room or any other room in the house for that matter can make a big difference in the overall style and atmosphere in a particular room. In rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom, homeowners can install new faucets in the sink to help update that room as well.

When you are performing a remodel in the house it is important for you to make sure to take the necessary safety precautions before you begin. While smaller projects may not require safety goggles and hats, bigger projects that require tools will. The more safety precautions you make before you start the remodel, the better.

Tori works for Your Home Supply (YHS) the definitive website for home improvement tools, and gardening supplies. Your Home Supply offers a wide range of cabinet pulls. Visit them now at http://www.YourHomeSupply.com

Texas Windstorm Insurance

April 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Home Safety Tips

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of spending a summer on the gulf coast you’re already well aware of what windstorms are-and more importantly, what they can do to your home. For residents of Texas, however, windstorms are more than a nameless, faceless threat that seems bound and determined to ruin your vacation. They’re an unavoidable part of daily life, and they’re something that has to be considered when it comes to their home.

That’s why so many Texans look to the TWIA.

A windstorm can and often does wreak an incredible amount of havoc on homes in and around Texas. Because of its proximity to the coast on (almost) all sides most of Texas’s homes are considered to be at a high risk for damage by the various hurricanes and tornadoes that come stampeding through the area on a regular basis. Since they happen often, and with little regard to the damage they leave behind, most homeowners insurance providers won’t touch the damages that wind and hail leave behind in these areas with a ten foot pole.

Recognizing the fact that living in a high risk area with no protection against the damages left behind was unacceptable for Texas homeowners, the state created the TWIA (Texas Windstorm Insurance Association).  The TWIA issues insurance policies to Texas homeowners who absolutely, positively can’t find insurance coverage in the private sector. Like most last-ditch attempts (at, well, anything!) an insurance purchase made through the TWIA is more expensive than insurance purchased through the private sector; however, it’s a vast improvement over not having any insurance coverage at all when a hurricane comes sweeping in off the coast!

If you’re a Texas homeowner and you haven’t been able to find insurance coverage to protect your home against the wind, rain and hail because of where it’s located, contact an insurance agent about purchasing a policy through the TWIA. The first thing they’ll do is send you an insurance application that you’ll need to fill out and return, and give you directions on completing your TWIA home inspection.

Last ditch resort or not, the TWIA isn’t going to set its members up to have to pay insurance claims over and over again. Before they’ll insure a house they want to know that it isn’t going to go plunging to the ground the first time the wind starts to blow! To make sure that your home is up to current building code the TWIA is going to require you to get a WPI-8 certificate for your home.

What’s that mean? It means if the Big Bad Wolf comes knocking with ten mile per hour winds backing him up your home isn’t going to be reduced to firewood!

There’s nothing like the feeling of living on the gulf, but the last thing you want to do is have to sacrifice your home for the privilege. Contact your insurance agent to find out about protecting your Texas home from windstorms through the TWIA today.

Clifford. F. Berman is the CEO of QuoteScout.com. For over a decade QuoteScout has been matching customers’ requests for insurance quotes with local agents and national providers to help them find the best insurance prices in the business. For more information on buying Texas windstorm insurance, visit them on the web at http://www.QuoteScout.com

Floor joist deterioration

April 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Inspection Nightmares

Floor joist show signs of deterioration at resting point on the sill plate. This area should be
monitored closely over the coming years.

Gutter downspout issues

April 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Inspection Nightmares

The gutter downspouts should discharge water at least thirty-six inches (36”) away from the foundation perimeter beam. Storm water should be encouraged to flow away from the
building at the points of discharge.

Watch the roof…

April 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Inspection Nightmares

There was no kickout flashing observed at the lower bottom edge of the roof and the sidewall. The lack of this kickout flashing will allow water to penetrate at these points.

Outstanding work…

April 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Client Reviews

“Well, I want to tell you that it was quite fortuitous that I did retain your services. Ricky’s inspection turned out to be critically important; the black substance he noted, did end up being mold.

I would have had great risk to my health and the health of my friends and family living there and also great risk to the asset value of the property. Had he not found it, I would not have known what to look for and test for it and would have ended up making a very unwise purchase. I cannot thank him and your company enough for outstanding work.”

Sherry Cheatem,
Bullard, TX

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