As a homeowner, you probably already realize you and your home could really use a human-to-home translation dictionary.
This is especially true when it comes to more subtle home problems like slab leaks. In most homes, it isn’t possible to see your foundation slab directly.
Even in homes where this is possible, most homeowners don’t spend a lot of time staring at their foundation assessing its condition!
Slab leaks can be incredibly damaging and costly. Luckily, this is one type of problem in which warning signs appear far in advance of a major water leak. But if you don’t know what you are looking at, you still won’t catch the signs until it is too late.
In this post, learn eight common, subtle signs that you’ve got a developing slab leak on your hands. Also learn what we recommend for how to fix foundation leaks from the inside.
1. Sudden Water Bill Increase
One of the most common causes of slab leaks is a problem with underground water pipes.
Corrosion, abrasion, mineral build-up and rust can lead to pipes leaking. In winter, frozen pipes can burst. Tree roots can also wrap around pipes.
While you probably won’t miss the signs of a major water leak, when the leak is small and developing over time, often the only way you can tell is by watching your monthly water bill.
When it goes up even as your water usage remains the same, this is a sign of a probable leak.
2. Decrease in Water Pressure
Another subtle sign you may have a foundation leak is a decrease in your water pressure.
Here again, it is most likely a leaking pipe that is to blame.
3. Less Available Hot Water.
When the hot water pipes are compromised, you may notice your hot water supply runs out faster than you are accustomed to.
This is typically not a warning sign you will fail to notice, since no one likes showering in cold water!
However, the real feat is to connect the lack of available hot water with a potential leaking foundation.
4. Hot Water Heater Never Shuts Off
Here again, if you have a leak in one of your hot water pipes, often the only way your home can let you know is by running the hot water heater continually.
It is not normal for the hot water heater to run for hours at a time. If you notice this, it is time to dig deeper and look for a possible slab leak.
5. Hot Spots
Another subtle warning sign of a slab leak that many homeowners miss is the appearance of “hot spots” in places on the floor.
In fact, typically the first family member to notice these is the family pet!
Cats and dogs who enjoy the warmth may change their favorite napping spot and this can be a signal your floor has developed a hot spot and perhaps a foundation leak.
6. Damp or Wet Spots
If there are areas either inside or outside your home that are perpetually damp or wet, this is another possible indication that your slab has developed a leak.
Here, it is especially important to take time regularly to patrol both the outside and inside of your house.
Many homeowners have failed to catch the subtle indication of a developing slab leak because the damp spot was outside on the lawn rather than inside on the carpeting.
Cracks are never a welcome sign, whether they appear in the wall, floor, ceiling or elsewhere.
Here again, it is important to keep on the lookout for cracks both inside and outside your home and also in your garage or other outlying structures.
Some cracks can be particularly hard to see, especially if your home has multiple stories. A leaning chimney can be another telltale sign that there may be a problem with your foundation’s structure.
As well tiny micro-cracks called fissures are often impossible to see with the unaided eye, especially when they occur deep inside your walls or slab.
One of the subtlest warning signs of all is the presence of efflorescence, a white powdery residue that is left after water evaporates. Efflorescence is made up of water-borne mineral salts and always indicates a leak or crack somewhere nearby.
8. Flooring Starts to Buckle or Rise Up
Whenever you see cracks in tile, laminate, hardwood or concrete flooring, you can be sure that somewhere below there is moisture trying to make its way through.
This is the nature of water and concrete. Water is constantly seeking a way out and through the soil and concrete is naturally porous, so water will always be drawn to concrete.
If you have carpeting, it is far more challenging to see the early signs of a developing crack or slab leak.
But if your carpet suddenly starts to rise up, feels continually damp to the touch, “bubbles” or buckles when you walk across it or smells slightly musty, this can be a sign you have an emerging slab leak.
How to Fix a Leaky Foundation from the Inside
With today’s advanced waterproofing technology, it is surprisingly economical, easy and quick to repair many types of slab leaks.
From damp proofing and moisture barriers to full-on affordable basement waterproofing, most foundation leaks can be fixed in just a day or two.
Of course, the earlier you catch the subtle warning signs, the easier and faster the repairs will be to accomplish!
Get in Touch
Do you suspect you may have a slab leak? With our no-stress EasyQuote diagnostic process, you can have a free, no-obligation repair quote in hand in no time!
Once you know exactly what the problem is, you have the information you need to decide on next steps.
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.
Raccoons. Mice. Rats. Squirrels. Possums. Ants. Termites. Wasps. Roaches.
All of these critters and many others have been known to inhabit unfinished basements. But to date, we have yet to meet a homeowner who is eager to welcome any of them!
Some of our customers have even gotten into the habit of avoiding their basements or crawl spaces out of a reluctance to run into these subterranean squatters.
Unfortunately, once entrenched, critters in your home are unlikely to vacate the premises of their own accord. And the longer you let them stay, the harder it will be to evict them.
In this post, learn what you need to know about how to permanently critter-proof your basement or crawl space and turn it into a truly functional space at the same time.
The Hazards of Ignoring Indoor Critters
If you were a tiny ant or a little mouse and you happened upon a dark, damp, sturdy, enclosed structure where you could hide, rest and nest, you would probably think it was your lucky day.
Seen from this angle, it makes good sense that critters will always be attracted to basements and crawl spaces and try to find their way in.
This represents what we feel is the number one hazard of ignoring basement or crawl space critters. Unless you take an active role to move them out and keep them out, you can be sure they will be there, bringing disease-producing bacteria and waste matter with them and potentially destroying elements of your home.
Major Points of Entry for Crawl Space Critters
Different critters gravitate toward different entry points into your home.
Wood-eating insects such as carpenter ants and termites will eat right through the wood (the softer and more rotted, the better) to get inside your home space.
Other insects will simply make their way through tiny cracks and crevices until they get to where they want to go.
Larger animals such as rats, squirrels and raccoons may dig through soft wood or even chew on electrical wiring – this is a major source of home fires every year. They may also seek entry through drain or plumbing pipes or even heat ducts.
If all of this is making you shudder, it is time to learn how you can keep these critters out of your home permanently.
Make Your Basement or Crawl Space Inhospitable
If there is one thing critters of all shapes, sizes and species love, it is a dank, dark, unattended space with lots of great jumble and clutter to hide inside.
So you want to provide just the opposite. Light, bright, dry, open basements or crawl spaces are natural critter repellants because they offer neither water nor the chance for hunting prey or finding shelter.
In the same way, even if critters primarily enter your basement or crawl space intent on making their way inside your home, you want to be sure that all available entry points are sealed up tight.
Cracks, leaks, soft rotting wood, open vents or pipes and other such passageways into your home must be made unavailable for entry.
It is also important to remove all sources of water or moisture, which will otherwise continue to lure critters into your crawl space and then into your home. Humidity is the perfect invitation to mould and mildew spores as well as tiny insects. Leaks and standing water will attract larger insects and animals.
By dehumidifying your basement or crawl space and fixing cracks and leaks that generate water, you effectively send critters packing and off to greener pastures elsewhere.
Steps to Critter-Proof Your Crawl Space
Basements and crawl spaces offer legitimate benefits, including ready access to utilities and extra storage space.
However, these benefits are only truly useful if you don’t dread setting foot in them.
Here are the steps we recommend to critter-proof your space and make it truly useful again.
Because of the location and nature of the crawl space or unfinished basement, conditions will always be naturally more humid than they are either outside or inside your home above.
For this reason, you can expect to need to add a dehumidifier to create the type of dry conditions that make it safe to store valuables and repel critters.
Luckily, it is simple enough to add a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture and other toxins from the air.
Older crawl spaces and unfinished basements often feature ventilation systems. While these were well meant at the time they were installed, we now know ventilation can actually create more problems than it solves by introducing more humidity into the air.
A much more effective and long-lasting solution is encapsulation. Encapsulation essentially creates a microclimate inside your subterranean space that is carefully controlled against excess temperature or humidity.
Insulation is another piece of the bigger puzzle of critter-proofing your crawl space.
Not only does insulation further reinforce the type of microclimate that will be off-putting to insects and animals, but it also helps seal up areas where critters could find their way into your home.
Finally, drainage solutions ensure your crawl space or unfinished basement won’t be vulnerable to standing water or floods in the event of an extreme weather event, plumbing leak or other similar situation.
Drainage can include installation of a backup emergency sump system along with a drain to ensure any incoming water gets routed right back outside again.
Get in Touch
Do you need assistance updating, upgrading and protecting your home's basement or crawl space to send critters packing? We can help!
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.
Did you know there is such a thing as the home and basement “healthy zone?”
This handy measurement system takes a look at the types of changes that tend to occur as moisture levels decrease or increase throughout your home and basement space.
By using this system as our guide, we can walk into an unfamiliar space and quickly identify existing or potential issues that may need to be addressed.
Whether your basement is too dry, too damp or somewhere along this spectrum, we can help you identify and remedy health threats before they impact you, your family or your home’s structure.
Healthy Zone: A Home & Basement Moisture Analysis Tool
The Healthy Zone system is a tool for expediting home and basement moisture analysis to identify threats.
Working with a relative humidity scale from 0 to 100 percent, the Healthy Zone system analyzes your home and basement for eight key health threats, each one exacerbated by extremes of dry or damp.
What surprises many homeowners is that too-damp conditions are not the only issue of concern for some of these health threats. In some cases, too-dry conditions can cause similar symptoms.
As well, in some cases, maintaining an optimal indoor humidity range (40 to 60 percent) for your own comfort isn’t necessarily ideal for eradicating certain health issues.
As you might imagine, the greatest challenge when using the Healthy Zone system is to strike the best possible balance between your family’s comfort and health and a healthy indoor ecosystem that sustains your home’s structural integrity.
This can be especially vital for maintaining the health of your basement, where conditions are often markedly different from the rest of your home above ground.
How Moisture (or Lack Thereof) Impacts Indoor Threats
The Healthy Zone tool identifies eight top health concerns that can be triggered by too-dry or too-damp indoor conditions either above or below ground.
These eight health concerns include bacteria, viruses, fungi, mites, respiratory infections, allergies and asthma, chemical interactions and ozone production.
Interestingly, some threats become active only at one extreme or the other.
For example, fungi and mites are dormant in dry conditions but become extremely active in extreme damp. Conversely, ozone production becomes concerning only in extreme dry conditions.
But the majority of threats tend to worsen at either extreme.
For example, if you’ve ever wondered why respiratory infections, allergies and asthma symptoms occur more often in very dry or very damp weather, this is because the aggravating bacteria and viruses that cause infections, allergies and asthma are also more active in very dry or very damp conditions.
While only two threats (bacteria, fungi) are largely eradicated in the healthy zone, conditions improve sufficiently to continue recommending that homeowners aim for a 40 to 60 percent humidity range indoors both above ground and below ground.
How to Correct Unhealthy Extremes In Your Home
If your basement is brand-new construction, you may not notice this as much. But for homeowners with an older basement, just walking from the ground floor down into the basement can feel like you are entering a whole different world!
Where conditions were perhaps dry and cool above ground, they may feel damp and close below ground. Depending on the season, you may find yourself sweating or shivering because of the increased moisture content in your basement’s ambient air.
While this is to be expected to some degree, given that your home above ground is surrounded by open air and your basement is surrounded on all sides by soil, it still shouldn’t feel like an extreme climate shift just to walk down into your basement.
When this is the case, it points to the need for corrective measures, which is one of the things the Healthy Zone moisture analysis tool can help with.
A variety of remedies exist to bring your basement back to a healthier, safer condition. But first it is vital to identify the underlying causes that are contributing to the imbalance. This is best done by taking an assessment of your entire basement space.
During an assessment, we look for each of the following signs of basement problems:
Wall, floor or ceiling cracks, sagging, bowing, creaking or leaning
Sump pump operation
Ambient air humidity
Efflorescence (mineral salts residue), flaking paint and/or water leaks
Signs of mould or mildew
Static conductivity with doorknobs or metal fixtures
Once the assessment is complete, the next step is to identify potential remedies, starting with the most urgent structural or health issues.
Today, basement science is sufficiently advanced that even comprehensive remedies often take just a day or two to complete. Even better, remedies have become far more affordable because they take less labour and fewer materials to implement.
A variety of effective treatments exist, from upgrading your sump pump to adding a backup sump pump, improving grading and drainage, repairing cracks and adding insulation.
Most importantly, interior basement waterproofing can not only repel moisture and balance humidity, but this treatment also guards against radon and ozone exposure, lowers your above-ground energy bills and improves comfort during extreme weather seasons.
Best of all, taking steps now to protect your home and basement also protects your home investment and improves resale value by up to 30 percent when it comes time to sell.
Get in Touch
Would you like to receive a free, no obligation Healthy Zone Home Moisture Analysis for your home and basement?
One of our friendly, prompt and knowledgeable service technicians will meet you at your home to analyze the overall health of your space above and below ground. Just complete this online form to reserve your free analysis!
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.
If you own a home with a basement, the thought of potential water damage may not keep you up nights, but it has likely crossed your mind, say, during winter thaw or torrential rains, or if you live close to a body of water that tends to flood.
The unsettling truth is, nearly 98 percent of basements throughout North America are likely to be impacted by moisture at some point.
In this article, learn about the four main types of basement waterproofing and when to use each if your basement takes on damp or water.
What Causes a Basement to Take on Water?
A basement may take on water for a number of reasons, only some of which are under your control.
Here is a list of the most common reasons that basements may take on damp or water, so you can think through the best way to protect your investment.
Severe weather such as the type we have been seeing more frequently in Ontario in recent years can sometimes trigger power outages.
If your sump system doesn’t have battery backup, it may fail and your basement may flood, especially if the weather brings with it heavy rains.
Sump pump failure
Speaking of which, sump pumps, like all appliances, only last so long. Installing a backup system can extend the useful life of your sump.
Frozen pipes are a known hazard especially in winter. But underground pipes can give way at any time of year due to tree roots, rust and other causes.
Rising water table
Sometimes the water table in your region begins to rise and this may bring water into your basement.
Hydrostatic soil pressure
Water content in the surrounding soil can create pressure against your basement walls and floor. This water is seeking an exit and may find its way inside your basement through fissures and micro-cracks that can widen over time.
The entire ecosystem of a basement space is always going to be different from that of your home above ground level.
Because moisture levels tend to be consistently higher, this causes the humidity to rise. Sometimes this causes mould and mildew damage to stored items or furnishings.
Window wells and drains are typically installed during the process of building a new basement space. However, over time these important features may become broken or blocked.
In the same way, shifting soils may cause grading around your above-ground home to shift.
If there are no gutters or the gutters become clogged or blocked, or if downspouts aren’t well-placed to route water away from the home, all of this can create water that has nowhere else to go but down into your basement.
Wall or floor cracks
Concrete is the building material of choice for basements today. Whether poured fresh or stacked from pre-existing bricks, concrete tends to be naturally porous, which means you can absolutely expect some micro-cracks and fissures as your basement settles.
But over time, such initially small cracks can widen, especially with consistent hydrostatic pressure as water keeps threading through the cracks. These cracks can then turn into major leaks under some of the other conditions mentioned here.
4 Main Types of Basement Waterproofing
There are four main types of basement waterproofing.
Each comes with its own pros and cons as well as recommended times for use.
If you have an existing basement, focus your attention on the last three types of affordable basement waterproofing.
1. Exterior excavation
Because exterior excavation basement waterproofing is so invasive and cost-prohibitive, it typically makes sense to take this approach only during new construction.
This method involves installing an exterior drain around the outer basement perimeter and often applying paint-like sealant around the outside walls as well.
If you are planning a new build or if yours is currently underway, talk with your contractor about the feasibility of exterior waterproofing.
2. Interior subfloor drain
Installing an interior subfloor drain is a relatively simple proposition compared with exterior excavation and can be done with a new or existing basement space.
Here, the term “subfloor” indicates the drain is installed underneath the floor of your basement.
The drainage system runs along the walls and can be set up to collect runoff from window wells and walls along with exterior floor moisture, which is then sent to the sump pump for removal.
3. Interior baseboard system
The interior baseboard system is easy to implement inside your basement whether the space is unfinished or finished.
It doesn’t require any jackhammering or other invasive methods. The drainage system is installed inside along the floor so water is collected and sent to the sump pump for removal.
4. Negative-side sealant
Negative-side sealant is a type of paint-like cement coating that can be applied to your basement walls and floor in a similar way to how paint is typically applied.
The sealant literally seals out moisture from the inside. The best time to use negative-side sealant is before you finish your basement space, although it can be done at any time with only minimal disruption to existing furnishings.
Get in Touch
Do you need guidance for affordable basement waterproofing to protect your investment? We can help!
Our free, no-obligation EasyQuote system is designed for maximum peace of mind and minimal stress. One of our polite, prompt and highly trained service technicians will meet you at your home to evaluate your basement, talk through options and provide you with a quote. It really is that easy!
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.
Foundation cracks run in all shapes, sizes and directions. Some cracks are so tiny they are hard to see with the naked eye. And some are hidden deep in the interior of your foundation structure, so you may not know they are there.
Since your entire home (not to mention its occupants) depends on having a stable and safe foundation, it is vitally important to learn about the different types of foundation cracks, what they mean, which types are the most concerning and the steps to fix them.
In this post, find out what you need to know about foundation cracks, both those you can see and those you can’t.
Reasons Why Your Foundation Cracks
There are two basic reasons why your foundation may crack: normal settling over time and abnormal changes that trigger instability.
Normal foundation cracks
Normal foundation cracks especially occur with poured concrete foundations. Concrete is a naturally porous material that shrinks as it dries. This process of drying and shrinking can cause micro-fissures and even small cracks to form.
Frequently, these cracks run diagonally or vertically (in poured concrete foundations) or along block lines (in block concrete foundations).
Cracks due to natural foundation settling tend to stabilize as the foundation dries and also stabilizes. These cracks typically do not grow longer or get wider past a certain point. To monitor cracks you can see, use a pencil to mark their length and width and check back every week or so to see if there have been any changes.
If you do see the cracks growing longer or wider, or if any crack widens to more than one-eighth of an inch across, it is time to call a pro.
Abnormal foundation cracks
In addition to the normal settling process of the typical foundation, cracks can form for other reasons.
One of the most common is when the foundation is being subjected to increased hydrostatic pressure from water trapped in the surrounding soil.
Over time, the soil surrounding your foundation can change in composition or moisture content. Heavy rains, rising water tables, broken pipes, clogged plumbing and other causes can also create increased hydrostatic pressure on your foundation structure.
These types of cracks may suddenly appear in older foundations. Their appearance may be curved, crooked or jagged. Horizontal cracks are among the most concerning types of foundation cracks because they can weaken the foundation structure considerably.
Sometimes newer foundations may also crack horizontally if they have not been properly constructed. Poor-quality building materials, improper grading, inadequate drainage or a missing or malfunctioning sump pump system can all place increased pressure on even the most well-built foundation.
When the foundation structure is weak from the start, dangerous cracks are more likely to form earlier in the foundation’s useful life.
Basic Types of Foundation Cracks
These are the basic types of foundation cracks, along with an explanation of what each one may mean as far as your foundation’s health.
Some types of vertical cracks are small and form early in the process of your foundation drying and settling.
But another type of vertical crack can indicate increasing soil pressure or hydrostatic pressure, and these cracks tend to widen and leak over time.
Like vertical cracks, diagonal cracks are often associated with the natural settling process in a newly poured or built foundation.
If the cracks form a “stair step” pattern, this tells you that your foundation was built using bricks and the pressure from exterior soil and water is moving the blocks enough to break them loose from their mortar.
These cracks can widen and turn into leaks over time.
Horizontal cracks typically appear later in a foundation’s life cycle. (When they appear early on, they are most likely a sign of an improperly constructed foundation.)
These cracks can indicate increased hydrostatic pressure from the exterior that is pushing against the foundation structure. Water finding its way through into micro-fissures and narrow cracks left over from the settling process may cause bulges that turn into wider cracks.
Cracks that change direction
Cracks that change direction are indications of foundation damage, often due to hydrostatic pressure as water works its way through the concrete, using micro-fissures and narrow cracks for passageways.
Cracks that widen over time
Any crack that widens over time, regardless of direction or length, should be watched closely.
Cracks that are wider at one end
Cracks that are wider at one end than the other should be watched closely, regardless of which end is doing the widening. These are always signs of foundation damage.
How to Fix Foundation Cracks
Any signs of new foundation cracks deserve your full attention. With small, narrow cracks, it is often possible to watch and wait for some time until you see signs that the cracks are spreading or widening.
But for any crack that exceeds one-eighth of an inch in diameter or that appears to be widening, bowing, sagging, cracking unevenly or moving in a jagged pattern, this is an indication that you need to take action immediately to avoid foundation or basement damage.
Today’s advanced foundation repair technology makes it possible to completely repair most foundation cracks and apply interior basement waterproofing in just a day or two.
Fixing foundation cracks before they get worse can keep a small leak from turning into a flood.
Get in Touch
To learn more about how to fix a leaky foundation from the inside, give us a call.
We will evaluate your foundation cracks for FREE with our no-obligation EasyQuote inspection service!
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.