How Do You Know If You Have an Unstable Foundation?

If you live in an old home, your foundation and basement walls might have become unstable. An unstable foundation sounds concerning, right? So, how do you know if yours is doing alright or not? We’ve compiled a list of symptoms as well as our favorite solution.

Basement Moisture and Leaks

Your foundation and basement walls are two parts of the same thing. If the structure of your house sits on your basement walls, those walls are part of your foundation. Therefore, keeping those walls in shape is vital.

If your basement walls are leaking water or there’s noticeable moisture in parts of your basement, that’s a bad sign. Stone basement walls can only leak if there are cracks leading from the outside to the inside. These cracks may be small enough that you can’t see them, but it doesn’t mean water can’t go through them. If there’s noticeable moisture, there are probably tons of these small cracks.

Letting your basement walls continue to erode as moisture travels through them will lead to more damage.

Wall Crumbling

The next sign is basement wall crumbling. If you notice little pebbles at the base of your basement walls, they’re damaged enough that they’re beginning to crumble. This is bad.

Erosion worsening as water travels through the cracks in your walls is to be expected. However, the walls beginning to crumble means the problem is worse than it looks on the outside. If your walls continue on this path, it could spell bad things for the safety of your entire house.

Above-Ground Symptoms

There are above-ground signs that your foundation isn’t doing so hot as well. For example, if you see cracks in your drywall, it means the foundation has shifted. Even if it has been a slow shift, caused over time, the continued shift could lead to worse damage. 

For example, if left long enough, important parts of the internal structure could split or crack. If the frame of the house splits, the floor could fall through or a wall could buckle. Therefore, if there are cracks appearing in your walls, it’s important to start the process of preventing further damage.

Other symptoms are:

  • Doors sticking
  • Door frames separating from the wall
  • Bowed floors or ceilings
  • Drafty windows

Solutions to Basement Wall Instability

If you’re noticing moisture in your basement, but the other signs of foundational instability haven’t appeared, take preventative measures. Exterior basement waterproofing doesn’t just prevent unwanted moisture, it also prevents continued erosion of your basement walls. That makes exterior basement waterproofing vital in the prevention of an unstable foundation.

Call us at POM Waterproofing if you want to know more about how to get exterior basement waterproofing.

Why You Need Basement Waterproofing Before Winter

While basement waterproofing is a huge hassle for most people, there are some very good reasons to get basement waterproofing before winter. If your home hasn’t had basement waterproofing, each year that passes increases the chances of experiencing basement leaks or flooding. Let’s take a closer look at why that is.

Basement Wall Erosion

Whether your basement is finished or unfinished, if your basement walls are made of stone, brick, or cement, they’re at risk of exterior erosion. Basement wall erosion is caused by ground water and moisture constantly moving against the stone. The same way a river can create a canyon, the water in the ground around your home can wear away at your basement walls.

This erosion is especially bad in areas with high rain and snowfall. As water soaks into the soil around your home, there’s a limit to how much water the soil can hold. When it hits that limit, the water will just sit there. Until enough of the deeper ground water can flow away or rise up and evaporate, the water will rest against your basement walls. 

Basement Leaking

After some time, basement wall erosion will lead to basement leaking. This is especially common with basement walls made of some type of brick. The water from the surrounding soil will find a pathway through the wall. Even if the pathway is narrow and only allows a few drips of water through in a day, they’ll add up. Plus, each drip that successfully makes it into your basement has widened the path for the next drip.

An unfinished basement will end up with moist walls. The moisture will run down the walls, leading to floor dampness. The constant moisture means a great environment for mold growth and an attractive place for pests to stop for a bit of water.

In a finished basement, the other side of the wall is likely to be covered in insulation and drywall. Where does the water go? Simple: it soaks into the insulation, which is cloaked in darkness, and begins to grow mold. The extensive damage mold growth can do when spread behind basement walls is devastating.

Basement Flooding

When basement leaking is left unchecked for a long period of time, you can end up with basement flooding. What seems like a manageable amount of moisture can quickly turn into flooding with a heavy rain and increased ground water. We don’t have to tell you how expensive this can be to repair. 

Get Basement Waterproofing Before Winter

The solution to this is getting basement waterproofing before winter. Winter is one of the worst seasons for basement walls because of the freezing temperature. Water within the basement walls will freeze and expand, damaging the walls further. Then, when the snow begins to melt, your basement is the next destination for all of the snow melt.

When you get exterior basement waterproofing before winter, you prevent additional damage from occurring and keep water from even touching your basement walls. Give us a call if you have questions about the waterproofing process or would like to schedule a consultation.

What to Do About Basement Wall Cracks

If your basement walls have cracks in them, it’s not unusual for them to be leaking water. However, even small amounts of water leaking in can cause huge issues. After a short while, your damp basement will develop mold, bacteria, and pests. So, what can you do to fix basement wall cracks? The answer may be more complicated than you hoped.

Find the Source

The first thing to do is find the source of the leak. If you’re looking for repair solutions, you probably already know where the water is coming from. If a basement window isn’t doing a great job of keeping out water, window well waterproofing will solve the problem. This process is fairly simple. We install something you could call a tray, which catches any water collecting in the window well. The water is then redirected away from the house.

However, if your basement leak is caused by basement wall cracks, there’s a bit more to be done.

Don’t Fill Cracks

When people experience leaky basement wall cracks, their first instinct is typically to fill the cracks in. However, you should never try to fill in basement wall cracks from the inside. 

Because water leaks in from the outside, filling the cracks from the inside traps water within the walls. The water will then expand and contract with the weather. This will cause a lot more damage to your walls than if you’d left them.

Determine Severity

Next up, you need to figure out how severe the problem is. During the worst weather of the year, is the leaking simply causing moisture on the inside of the walls, or is it running down them and pooling on the floor? If the worst the weather can do is give you a little moisture on your interior basement walls, you probably just need damp proofing. However, if it’s enough to pool, even in tiny rivulettes or puddles, you’ll want to go the waterproofing route. 

Both methods involve accessing the basement walls from the outside, which means digging a trench along the side of the house. However, they each offer a different level of protection.

Basement Damp Proofing

When damp proofing, the real culprit is the cracks in the wall, allowing regular ground moisture in. So, when hiring POM Waterproofing to damp proof your basement walls, we fix cracks from the outside and then coat the exterior of your basement walls. The crack repair will build the integrity of the walls back up while the coating will keep moisture from getting in or forming new ones. 

Basement Waterproofing

When waterproofing, the culprit is the amount of water trying to get at your basement walls. A high level of ground water will cause damage to otherwise intact walls. This happens when rain collects along the basement wall and erodes the stone.

When we waterproof your basement walls, we do the same process as damp proofing, but take it a step further. Once the wall has been smoothed and coated, we apply a solid membrane and adhere it to the wall. This membrane provides a solid barrier between ground water and your basement. Then, we install a track that collects and redirects ground water that finds its way to the membrane. The water will then be redirected away from the house, ensuring it doesn’t just pool against the membrane.

Give us a call today if you’re interested in protecting your home from invasive water. 

Basement Flooding in an Old Home

Finding water in your basement can be quite a shock. Not only does basement flooding mean expensive repairs, it may also mean the ruin of whatever was stored down there. Therefore, we need to get to the bottom of where that water is coming from to ensure it doesn’t return, once the current disaster is cleaned up!

For now, we’ll focus on basement flooding in an old home. Basement flooding is likely caused by different things in an old home than a new one. If you need help with basement flooding in a newer home, check out our last article. If you’re struggling with moisture, rather than water, we have an article for you as well.

Outdated, Broken Plumbing

When a home has been standing for decades, the plumbing takes quite a beating. In fact, when plumbing has been used for that long, it begins to lose its efficiency. Not only can old pipes be unable to keep up with modern water pressure, they can also rust.

Rusted pipes don’t just make the tap taste like metal. When pipes rust, it can weaken them and the parts holding them together. With every year, your home’s plumbing becomes more and more likely to burst somewhere.

If the there’s no storm outside and the water in your basement looks mostly clear, there’s a good chance it’s coming from a burst pipe. Call us immediately for emergency repair services.

Damaged Basement Walls

If the water in your basement looks a bit less clear, or straight up muddy, it’s most likely coming from outside. There are two ways for outside water to come in. The first is that it’s coming through damaged basement walls.

Over the years, your basement walls, if not properly waterproofed, will gain cracks for water to get in. The cracks won’t allow much more than damp walls at first. However, with time, the cracks will widen and reach all the way inside. When it rains, the water that soaks into the surrounding soil will begin leaking into your basement through the walls.

If this is the source of your basement flooding, it’s either a very minor flood, or there were warning leaks leading up to this. If it’s storming hard at the moment, a small leak may have turned into a sudden stream of water in your basement. Either way, it’s time to get that fixed with exterior basement waterproofing.

Groundwater Rising

The second way water can come in from outside, causing basement flooding, is through the basement floor. If you live at the bottom of a hill, if it’s been particularly rainy lately, or if an existing subfloor sump pump has stopped working, water will rise up into the basement from the surrounding ground. This is caused by the equilibrium of the groundwater. The solution is to have a sump pump installed, or to have an existing one checked for malfunctions. A sump pump will collect water that rises up beneath the floor, redirecting it away from the house.

Basement Flooding in a New Home

If you’ve recently moved into a new home, suddenly finding water in the basement is a huge shock. After all, it’s old homes that should be having these problems, right? Unfortunately, new homes have a couple of potential causes for basement flooding as well. Because the home is new, you’re the first family living in it after it’s been built. That means, any issue in the construction of the building that’s gone unnoticed until now is now your problem. 

For now, we’ll focus on basement flooding in a new home. Basement flooding is likely caused by different things in a new home than in an old one. If you need help with basement flooding in an older home, check out our next article. If you’re struggling with moisture, rather than water, we have an article for you as well.

Poor Plumbing

Unfortunately, not all buildings are made with good plumbing. Plumbing contractors are often hired to do the entire plumbing system in a new home as it’s being built. If the company in charge of the building’s construction wants to save money, they’ll cut corners. That can mean that they hire people with a poor reputation or lack of training. That leads to a home with extremely poor plumbing.

If pipe connections are done wrong or placed poorly, or even if the wrong size piping is used, the new owners of the home may end up with a burst pipe right off the bat. A burst, inflowing pipe means an immediate flooding situation. If the pipe is placed in a wall without any nearby openings, or below the main floor, a burst will lead to basement flooding. In that case, you need immediate, emergency plumbing assistance.

How do you know if poor plumbing is the cause of your basement flooding? The easiest way to figure this out is by ruling out water from outside. If it’s not storming and the water looks clear, it’s probably from a burst pipe. If it is storming, but the water looks clear, you might need a professional’s opinion. Storm water is typically filled with sediment, but stranger things have happened than clear storm water.

Poor or Nonexistent Waterproofing

If your home was just recently built, it’s unlikely that your basement has flooded from through the basement walls, but not impossible. If the basement walls were built poorly, there may be enough space, perhaps between bricks, for water to come in. With exterior basement waterproofing, this wouldn’t be possible.

Any home in a location that risks heavy groundwater should have exterior basement waterproofing done during initial construction. However, this isn’t the industry standard, which leaves homeowners, like you, having to get that done yourself.

Give us a call and have us come out to assess your basement flooding. If we find that your walls are letting in groundwater, we can make a plan for you to have your basement walls waterproofed.

Poor Home Location

Finally, the basement flooding could be caused by poor location. For example, if your home is at the bottom of a hill, rainwater will pool there. While water pooling on the surface can cause issues, it’s more likely to cause problems after it’s soaked into the ground.

You know how the amount of water in your straw will always be at the same height as the water in your glass? This is from equilibrium. If the ground around your basement is full of water, that water will rise up, into the water-free space in your basement. The solution to this kind of flooding is installing a sump pump, which should have been done during construction.

Damp Proofing VS. Waterproofing: What’s the Difference?

When looking for solutions to home moisture or flooding problems, you’ll come across two terms often: damp proofing and waterproofing. Contrary to popular assumption, these are two different things! In order to ensure your home’s water problems are solved properly, knowing the difference is vital. So, damp proofing vs. waterproofing – what are their differences?

Damp Proofing

As you might expect, damp proofing is protecting something against dampness. While that may not seem different from waterproofing, the difference lies in the degree of protection. 

If you have a basement, regardless of whether the interior is finished, the basement will be surrounded by stone walls. Whether these are cement or stone brick makes little difference. The reason this matters is that stone is not as waterproof – or damp proof – as people think it is. While stone does a good job of keeping water at bay in small quantities, consistent dampness attempting to infiltrate stone walls will, eventually, succeed. 

Stone, basement walls are holding the weight of all of the house structure sitting on top of them. After even just a few years, microscopic cracks will form in the walls. These cracks may be too small to see with the naked eye, but moisture doesn’t need to see cracks to find its way inside of them.

This moisture can make its way to the interior of the basement. This will cause mold in finished basement walls or becoming visible moisture on the surface of an unfinished basement wall. Damp proofing seeks to prevent this moisture from getting inside.

Waterproofing

Waterproofing, like damp proofing, is done to keep water from getting into your basement. The difference is in extensivity. Damp proofing keeps moisture from the soil from seeping in. Waterproofing protects your basement walls from excessive groundwater. For example, if your yard slopes toward your home, rain will run down the hill and collect against the walls of your basement. This is what waterproofing seeks to prevent.

If left unchecked, this kind of water buildup against a basement wall can lead to basement flooding. The longer water is allowed to enter cracks in the wall, the more the cracks will widen from erosion. This, in turn, allows more water to enter your basement. It also hurts the integrity of your basement walls. Eventually, you may end up with significant amounts of water coming into your basement when it rains. It may pool along the wall or even advance in intensity until it covers the entire floor, pooling up and flooding the basement.

Which One Is Right for You?

When it comes to damp proofing vs. waterproofing, choosing can be tricky. The question of which method is right for you depends entirely on what kind of problems you’re experiencing. 

If the water getting into your home has been getting progressively worse since you moved in, it may be a sign that cracks are widening. If your yard slopes or you live at the bottom of a hill, you should probably invest in exterior basement waterproofing.

However, if you’re simply experiencing moisture on your basement walls, damp proofing may be all that’s necessary. Before investing, you should also confirm the source of your moisture issues. If you need help with waterproofing or damp proofing, give us a call at POM Waterproofing. We’re happy to help however necessary.

What Is Capillary Action and How Is It Affecting Your Home?

Many people are under the impression that homes made of stone or brick are made to last. While they do last many years, stone and brick are weak to a very prevalent element of life: water. There are a lot of complicated things that happen with stone buildings. The average person knows that brick houses sometimes get cracks or complications, but most don’t know about capillary action. So, what is capillary action? Let’s take a look and see how it may be affecting your home.

What Is Capillary Action?

In simple terms, capillary action is when water leaches up into stone. However, it’s important to understand the details to fully get the implications of this phenomenon.

Buildings made with porous stone, like brick, or even solid stone that’s attained cracks, have little defense against water. Water finds its way into stone walls – even vertically – and makes a long journey through the cracks, or capillaries, available in them. These cracks can be miniscule – too small for you to see. However, water running through them makes them bigger. This becomes especially problematic if the groundwater in an area is salty. Even small amounts of salt in groundwater can create a lot of damage.

Over the course of a hundred years, even groundwater with a small amount of salt can take up to 4.2 kilograms of salt through a meter of wall. This salt contributes in breaking down the stone in the wall, leading to further cracks, crumbling, and the inevitable destruction of the walls.

Younger Homes

You may be asking, “How does this affect my home if it’s only 40 years old?” Well, the answer is, it may take a hundred years for 4.2kg of salt to make it through a stone wall, but it then stands to reason that half of that could make it through by the time your home is 50 years old. Capillary action is happening all the time in brick houses, even if the larger effects aren’t seen for a while.

Home Value and Long-Term Health

Therefore, if you want your home to continue standing at its best, you’ll want to take action to prevent capillary action from damaging your foundation or basement walls. These are the walls that support your entire home structure. If they’re damaged to the point that they can no longer do their job, your home is no longer safe. It’s best to start the recovery and protection process sooner rather than later, right?

Saving Your Home from Capillary Action

No matter where you live, there will be groundwater and moisture in the soil that longs to make its way into your walls. If you have a stone or brick home, or if your basement walls are made of cement that is no longer keeping moisture out, it’s time to get help.

POM Waterproofing specializes in exterior basement waterproofing. Our process is extensive, but can keep your home safe from a number of problems associated with capillary action and water leakage. Give us a call today if you want to know more about our services.

3 Causes for Basement Mold Problems

Are you struggling with mold in your basement? Trying to figure out the source of basement mold problems can be tricky. However, the good news is that it’s usually caused by one of three things. Figuring out which of these three things is leading to basement mold in your home is the first step in getting rid of it. Fortunately, if you have trouble finding the source, our professionals at POM Waterproofing can come take a look for ourselves.

Interior Condensation

The first thing that can cause basement mold problems is actually very common, especially with unfinished basements. Interior condensation is caused when your basement is badly insulated and condensation gathers against the walls. This can happen with unfinished walls made of concrete and even with badly done drywall with insufficient insulation.

The way interior condensation works has to do with temperature. You know how a cold glass will gather moisture on a hot day? The water in the air goes from its gas form to its liquid form when it touched the cold side of the glass and the molecules slow down. The same thing happens in your basement if your basement is warm and the outdoors are cold.

The cold ground against your basement wall makes the stone cold. Therefore, any moisture in the basement air can become condensation on the cold walls as soon as it makes contact. When t his condensation gathers, it will often run down the wall, collecting at the floor and giving the perfect, damp environment for mold to grow. The same can be said for basement windows with mold in the sill.

The solution to interior condensation causing mold is to buy an air dehumidifier. If the moisture is taken out of the air, there will be no moisture to collect on the walls. However, this is a short term solution. For a long term fix, you’ll need to have your walls sealed and insulated.

Exterior Wall Leaking

Exterior wall leaking can look a lot like interior condensation issues. This is why a professional eye is really helpful in the diagnosis process. When your exterior basement wall is not sealed properly, ground water and moisture can leak into the cracks in the wall. After a few years, these cracks will get longer and wider, allowing the water to leak in, onto the basement walls. 

A crack big enough for water to get in may sound large, but can actually be small enough not to notice without looking for it. The solution to these cracks is getting exterior basement waterproofing done. It’s somewhat extensive, but necessary to keep your basement leak free.

Covering the cracks from the inside will actually worsen the problem. Water will continue leaking into the wall. But, with no outlet, it will remain in the wall, freezing and thawing until it breaks the walls down entirely.

Ground Water Rising

And, last but not least, mold can be caused in ernest by ground water that rises up through the basement floor. This can happen in both finished and unfinished basements. However, in finished basements, you may not know this is happening until your entire basement floor has molded through to the surface.

This issue is severe and is best handled by installing a sump pump. A sump pump collects water along the floor of the basement. When the tank reaches a certain fullness, it will pump out all of the water through a pipe leading away from the house.

If any of these issues may be plaguing your home, give us a call at POM Waterproofing. Our team will help you find the source of your mold and put a stop to it.

How Summer Rain Can Damage Your Foundation

Did you know summer rain can significantly damage your foundation? We want to break down the hows and whys for you so that you can use that knowledge to protect your home from an early retirement. Keep your home in good shape by staying knowledgeable about summer rain and its effect on your foundation.

Erosion

The first way summer rain can hurt the integrity of your foundation is by erosion. This is an issue in any season with rain, but can’t be discounted in summer. When rain water seeps into the ground around your home, it will run toward your house and collect around the perimeter of your foundation. 

However, what many people don’t realize is that ground water doesn’t just sit still. It will continue to flow, taking the slowest route further down into the ground. What this means is that it will continue to flow against the side of your foundation, eroding away the cement or stone supporting your home. Never underestimate erosion. Canyons and valleys are created by a continuous flow of water eroding the ground away, and it can wreak just as much havoc on your foundation.

Crack Widening

While ground water is eroding your foundation, it isn’t just settling for the outside of it. Water also seeps into the cracks in your foundation. You would be shocked if you knew how much water can fit inside of cracks that are barely visible to the naked eye. As water flows through these cracks, they erode away more of the stone, widening the cracks and making them even easier to fill with water. That means, each year, summer rain can exponentially wear away at your foundation.

Expansion and Contraction

Water getting into the cracks of your foundation doesn’t just lead to erosion; it also leads to expansion and contraction. Summer days are often extremely hot – after all, that’s what it’s known for. However, when the rain comes down, it cools everything off. That means, throughout the season, your foundation will go through a series of temperature changes – sometimes sudden – which leads to expansion and contraction of the cement or stone its made of.

The foundation itself isn’t the only thing expanding and contracting; the water in the foundation cracks is too. It’s because of this that erosion is the least of your worries. When water repeatedly expands and contracts within the cracks of a foundation, it creates new cracks, and can even split the foundation. Moreover, when enough cracks form in a foundation, even something as simple as rain expansion within the cracks of the foundation can cause it to split.

When a foundation splits, the different parts are able to move separately from each other. This can lead to one part of the house sinking below another. Even a few millimeters of this can cause structural damage and put stress on the house’s supports. If you notice doors shutting differently at different times of the year, or small hairline cracks in your walls or window frames, your foundation may already be struggling.

Exterior Basement Waterproofing is the only surefire solution to prevent rain damage to your foundation. Call us at POM Waterproofing if you’re interested in learning more about the process or scheduling an appointment today.

The Danger of Ignoring Basement Moisture

It’s not uncommon for basements to have stone walls. There are unfinished basements with stone walls as well as finished ones. Not everyone opts for drywall when deciding on their finished basement. For some, a coat of paint or raw brick is just more appealing. However, with stone basement walls comes the ability to spot basement moisture. While many people are fine with ignoring basement moisture, POM Waterproofing is here to let you know why this could be a terrible – and costly – mistake.

Where Does It Come From?

The first thing you need to know is, where is your basement moisture coming from? In some cases, basement moisture is just condensation. This comes from your basement walls being uninsulated. Therefore, when they get cold, the moisture in your warm basement collects there. This is the same way your glass of lemonade sweats on a hot day.

However, ignoring this moisture without confirming that it’s condensation can be dangerous. That’s because, on the flip side, you can also get moisture on your basement walls from leaking cracks. If your basement walls have cracks in them, even tiny ones that you can barely see, they can leak in moisture and water from the ground outside.

What Does It Mean?

If your basement walls are leaking moisture in from outside, it doesn’t actually mean a whole lot. Simply put, your basement walls are stone, and stone is fallible against water. Water is able to erode stone at a surprisingly fast rate. Even if your house is only 10 years old, it may be leaking exterior moisture into the basement.

However, while the leaking itself isn’t complicated, the result of it might become complicated. Let’s look at how this can cause long term damage.

Long Term Damage

Basement moisture isn’t something to scoff at. It can go from a slightly damp wall to something worse in no time at all. Here’s how:

The first danger of ignoring moisture problems is the potential for mold growth. Mold loves moisture even more than it loves outright water. When your basement walls are damp all the time, they provide an environment for mold to thrive. This mold can grow directly on the walls, spread to your carpet, get into your subfloor, and ultimately rot the structure of your house. Mold may seem like a mild irritant on the outside, but it can quickly turn deadly.

Not only does moisture risk the rotting of any wooden structural elements, it also poses serious health risks. Even for people who aren’t asthmatic or allergic to mold, breathing in mold spores can cause COPD, pneumonia, and more. This risk is even higher if you have carpeting in your basement, as each step on carpet contaminated with mold will force spores into the air. Mold in carpet is not always visible from the surface, and spores can come through from beneath, leading to an easy-to-miss health risk, all because of wall moisture.

Preventing Basement Moisture

The best way to prevent basement moisture is to confirm the source and take steps to block that source. Condensation is less than ideal, but can be avoided with a dehumidifier. Leaking basement walls, on the other hand, are best managed with exterior basement waterproofing or damp proofing. Give us a call at POM Waterproofing today and we’ll come out to assess your basement as soon as possible.