Common Reasons For A Wet Basement

ImageBasement waterproofing is one of those topics that as a homeowner, you know is important yet you don’t always seem to get around to doing it unless a problem comes up.  That ‘problem’ is a wet basement, and it can really cause some frustration and anger if it happens to you, especially if your basement is finished and fully furnished. 

Of course, wet basements don’t just happen out of the blue for no reason.  In the interest of keeping your basement waterproofing efforts worth your time and money, here are some of the most common reasons for a wet basement. 

Leaky Pipes

This one is pretty straightforward.  If you have pipes that have sprung a leak and they happen to be located in your basement, you’ll end up with a wet basement.  Do yourself a favour and schedule regular inspections to keep your pipes leak-free. 

Rain Runoff

If the rain water from that big downpour or the melted snow isn’t directed away from the house properly, it could end up in your basement.  This is definitely one of the most common reasons for wet basements, and should be on your mind when you’re formulating a basement waterproofing plan.  Cracks in the foundation can also result in runoff finding its way into your basement. 

Condensation

If you happen to have uninsulated cold water pipes or the foundation walls are cool and you have a lot of moisture in the air, you may end up with a condensation problem.  This can result in a damp carpet, walls and appliances.  Condensation is also known as sweating. 

Clogged Gutters

The gutters on your roof can also contribute to a wet basement.  Even though they seem pretty far away from the basement, if they don’t drain down through the downspouts properly, that water could end up in the basement.  Downspouts should drain at least four feet away from the house to ensure the water doesn’t get inside. 

Clogged  Basement Drain

If that drain that you barely notice in your basement becomes clogged, you may be looking at a back up and moisture problem.  The drain is located in the laundry room area, and they can become clogged with all sorts of different materials, including roots and silt.  Make sure you and your plumber consider the drain in your basement waterproofing plans.  It only takes one weak area to give you a wet basement and all the problems that come along with it.

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How does a basement become waterproofed?

As anyone involved in the construction field will tell you, subterranean (below ground) construction has a number of problems Imageassociated with it. Many of which the layperson wouldn’t expect. Besides the fear of structural collapse and integrity, there comes another creeping issue: water leakage. It’s such a problem in some places that below-ground construction is almost impossible. Florida is infamous for being unable to install basements due to all the work it will take to waterproof them.

Why is Subterranean Water an Issue?
Water becomes an issue as soon as it is decided that construction will include work at or below ground level. It’s especially important because of a process called hydrostatic pressure. Without going into all the complex mathematics and dynamics, it’s essentially the pressure water at equilibrium exerts due to the force of gravity. This also plays into the fact that water, like most liquids, is incompressible. This means that, no matter how hard you press on a determined amount of water, it will not compress into a smaller shape. It will instead disperse out. When homes are being constructed, fluid dispersal isn’t so much out as much as it is up. That is, through the cracks in the concrete and construction. The force of the building being erected above the water table causes the water to flow up through the cracks. Obviously, this causes many significant concerns in a building’s structural integrity.

Waterproofing a basement is a multifaceted approach. There is no one way to go about it and often takes a combination of techniques. The most common and effective way to manage below-ground water is to utilize both draining and prevention techniques. The most common ways that construction agencies go about this is through interior drainage, interior floor and wall sealants, and exterior sealants.

Interior Drainage:
Interior Drainage may seem superficially simple (it’s often just a strategically placed drain), but the reality is much more complicated. For one thing, it isn’t even considered water-proofing. It works to prevent flooding and other water issues but it doesn’t directly prevent water from seeping in. Regardless, it is still considered a method of protecting the subterranean levels of the house. The water flows into the drain and is dispersed into what is called a sump pump. The sump pump consequently flows the water out of the house.

Interior Sealants:
In order to secure poured concrete foundations, a sealant like epoxy or urethane is used to seep in and block any of the inherent cracks. This process isn’t permanent, but is often guaranteed for a decade. It prevents the water from seeping in the points of least resistance and forces it away from the interior. In masonry houses, however, interior sealants aren’t as effective. Interior sealants due prevent high atmospheric humidity for a while which in itself is a common cause of damage. Further methods can include sheets of PVC and other membranes.

Exterior Sealants:
Exterior Water Sealing is the only way the IBC (International Building Code) recognizes as adequate water prevention. Asphalt was originally the sealant used to prevent intrusion, but over time the technology has advanced. Just like with the interior sealants, many of the exterior ones are now advanced polymers.

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Tips to Running an Energy Efficient Home

You can easily achieve energy efficiency in your home if you want to help the environment and reduce your utility costs. Many tips are available to help you achieve this goal. Most you may know about, but others may be new and can help you save money on energy costs.

The first tip that you can use is to upgrade the appliances in your home. One appliance you may choose to upgrade is your refrigerator. Newer models are made to be energy efficient. This means that they will use less energy than older models. Energy efficient refrigerators will save you money over time.

Another appliance that you may want to replace is your water heater. You can save money by replacing an old electrical water heater for a newer gas unit. If you have a home that has radiators that are used to heat your home, then replacing the boiler with a newer unit will save you money. Make sure the boiler in your home is regularly maintained so it will run at peak efficiency.

Regulating the heating and cooling of your home can also save you money on energy costs. You can do this by installing a programmable thermostat. This type of thermostat is used to regulate temperature levels. This means that you can set the thermostat to come on at specific times or when heating it not required.

Keeping the HVAC system in your home running efficiently requires regular maintenance. You need to regularly clean out the registers and cold air returns of any dirt. A local HVAC company can be hired to clean the ducts to allow proper air flow throughout your home.

Check all of the windows in your home for any leaks. You may need to apply a weatherstripping on the windows to seal any air gaps. Another option is to cover the glass with a window film. This is a type of product that is used to keep out heat during the summer and prevent heat loss during the winter. If your windows are old, then you may want to consider replacing them with a newer product. You will have a significant energy savings by replacing single-pane windows with double-pane windows.

Check the attic or crawlspaces in your home for the amount of insulation that is present. You may need to have more insulation added to prevent heat loss through the roof. This will save money because your furnace will not need to run as often to keep your home warm. Insulation can be blown into the attic or pieces can be cut and then laid in-between the floor joists.

One big way that you can make your home more energy efficient is to replace all incandescent bulbs in your home with CFL or compact fluorescent bulbs. These to not burn as not and do not use the amount of energy as a typical incandescent bulb. If replacing bulbs are not an option, then you need to turn off lights in rooms that are not being used.

The Top Must Have Plumbing Tools

Plumbing never breaks at a convenient time.  Typically, a problem will occur in the middle of the night or when it is time to go to work or an appointment.  Calling out a plumber in an emergency can be an expensive proposition that can be avoided with the purchase and knowledge of a few simple tools.

Every home should be equipped with a plunger, or a ‘plumber’s friend’.  It is a rubber cup on a stick that can be used to unclog toilets or sinks by anyone, regardless of how handy they may or may not be.  Toilets can easily become clogged with too much toilet paper.  This is a situation that can be quickly and easily rectified with a plunger.  In the toilet, place the rubber cup over the hole at the bottom of the bowl.  Use the stick to push the rubber cup up and down.  This causes the water in the trap under toilet to move back and forth and to loosen the clog.  This method will remedy almost every clogged toilet.  There typically is no need to call a plumber.

Sinks can be plunged as well; however, the clogs in the sinks are typically formed by hair or other small items that can create more of a blockage than a typical toilet paper clog.  If the plunger does not work in the sink, a liquid drain cleaner will usually remedy the situation.  Liquid drain cleaners are sold in most hardware and large general retail centers.  The liquid attacks the clog and eats away the material that is causing the blockage.  It is very easy to use.  Simply pour the liquid into the clogged drain and wait a specified time.  Sometimes it will take multiple applications to unclog the most stubborn blockages.

Most homeowner’s worst nightmare is discovering a busted pipe or valve, and to have water spilling into the house.  While this is a very unlikely situation, it is a good idea to have a plan of attack if it ever occurs.  The most important thing to do in the case of a busted water pipe is to shut off the water supply to the house.  This is accomplished at the water meter or water shut off valve located outside.  Everyone should locate the shut off valve to the house soon after moving in so that they know where to go in the case of an emergency.  Additionally, some valves require a key in order to turn them.  These keys can be purchased at hardware stores.  The key should be kept in a convenient place that is quickly accessible.

One more common issue in plumbing is the loss of an item into the drain of the sink.  Rings in particular can quickly fall into the sink and disappear into the drain.  There is a trap located just below that drain that will capture the item that is dropped.  A pipe wrench is all that is needed to remove the trap and recover whatever was lost.  There is a nut on either end of the trap that has to be removed.  Once they are removed, the trap will come off.

Knowing how to remedy some simple plumbing issues can save precious time and money in the case of an emergency.  Homeowner’s should be sure to purchase these few tools so that they are ready in the case that they are needed at a moment’s notice.

Importance of Having an Emergency Plumber

There are many instances in which a homeowner can accomplish basic plumbing tasks at home. However, it’s always important to have a contact number for an emergency plumber. You never know when a serious plumbing issue may take place that will require professional assistance, especially in an instance which leads to flooding conditions inside the home or in the yard.

One of the most common needs for an emergency plumber is freezing weather conditions. No matter how well you wrap your pipes, there is potential for breakage during a freeze. You may realize that there is a problem when the water in the house doesn’t run. You may discover an unexpected puddle in your yard. It’s important to attend to frozen pipes immediately in order to restore water to your home. Calling in professional help can facilitate this quick restoration.

Any type of gushing water in your yard is a sign of trouble, regardless of the season. If you aren’t confident in your own ability to fix a broken pipe, it’s important to contact a professional right away in order to alleviate water waste. Gushing water inside of your home is even more urgent. If a fixture breaks, your first step should be shutting off the water supply to the area. Your next step should be contacting an emergency plumber to do the repair.

Water heaters are especially frustrating to replace. Many communities now regulate the replacement of water heaters. Whether it’s an emergency or not, it can be difficult to figure out how to get the right permits for the job, and hiring a professional can save you the frustration while getting the needed authorization quickly. Professionals can attend to your unexpected water heater replacement much more quickly, and they have the expertise to make sure that a new system is installed safely.

Unusually high utility bills are a sign of serious issues with household plumbing. If your usage hasn’t changed significantly, it’s wise to analyze your property for leaks. A simple survey of your water meter can help you to determine whether water is running. Shut off all water outlets, make sure that no toilets are running, and examine your meter. If the meter is moving, then you have a leak on your property. A plumber can help you locate and repair such a leak.

On rural properties, wells and septic systems can create additional plumbing challenges. Not only do you need to be concerned with issues inside, but you must be aware of the potential of your well or septic system to create indoor problems. A lack of water may require more than a plumbing solution, and a well company may need to be contacted. Backing up of water in the home may indicate an overloaded septic system. A plumber may assist in the short term, but will advise you if septic service is needed.

Not every plumbing concern is an emergency. It’s important, however, to have a reliable emergency plumber in mind for those situations that crop up suddenly, creating hazards to your property or inconveniences for your family.

How to Unclog a Sink Drain

ImageA clogged sink drain is one of the more common plumbing issues you’re bound to face.  There are sink drains located in various spots of any house, and while they will typically become clogged by different means, the same solutions apply. 

Try to avoid using any harsh chemicals in your drains, and stick to more natural means to release the clog. 

Plunger

A classic, inexpensive plunger is one of the more useful tools you can have around the house.  If you notice that one of your sink drains is clogged up, reach for the plunger before anything else. 

If there is an overflow hole, be sure to plug it up before you begin. If the clog is in a double sink, use a stopper or wet rag to block the drain in the other sink.  This will help increase the suction in the plunger. 

Make sure there’s enough water in the sink to cover the base of the plunger, then position the plunger over the drain and push down.  Pull up slightly, then repeat the motion 10 to 15 times.  You will feel the suction, and if it works any water that’s in the sink will run down the drain.  Continue the plunging action as much as you’d like, but if it doesn’t work after the first handful of times, it probably isn’t going to work. 

Before you move on to an auger, you can try removing the u-shaped trap under the sink.  Just bail out any water and set a bucket under the trap before loosening the nuts that hold the trap in place.  If the trap has a clean out plug at the bottom, remove the plug and try to get to the clog that way. 

Auger

If you can’t get to the clog the easy way, it’s probably located a little farther down.  For this kind of clog, an auger or snake will usually do the job. 

If you removed the trap, you can start the auger there, or start at the drain if you haven’t.  Be sure to follow the instructions for your model of auger, so you give yourself the best chance of removing the clog. 

When to Call

Naturally, not everyone has the tools, skill or desire to try and tackle a clogged drain themselves.  If you’d rather leave it to the experts from the get go, just call your plumber or local drain experts as soon as you notice a problem. 

If you’ve tried a plunger and auger yourself and still can’t seem to get it cleared, you should also give the experts a call.  There are many reasons why your sink drain may be clogged, and professionals have the knowledge and experience to deal with all of them.  Some of the more reputable companies will even perform a whole diagnostic check up on your system to make sure there aren’t any serious problems.  You can always try to clear out each clog as it happens, but if you really want results, call in professionals and get it done right.

Blocked Drains: Why Call a Plumber?

It’s safe to say that every home owner has potentially suffered with the inconvenience of blocked drains.

While many blockages begin before your entire drainage system decides to fail, many individuals don’t see the little tell-tale signs that let you know, at some point in the future, that your whole drainage system is going to back up and make your life a misery, if only temporarily.

Noticing that the water isn’t draining away as quickly as it usually does from your sinks, bath tubs and shower cubicles is where most see a problem is beginning. At this stage it is quite acceptable to use a plunger, this only serves to shift the built up debris in your drains rather than cure the problem completely. The humble plunger does offer a temporary fix as the power of suction works to move whatever it is that is causing the blockage, but it doesn’t work to dispel the problem altogether.

When it comes to home maintenance, prevention is usually better than cure, and calling in a plumber to deal with your slow drainage system as soon as you notice a problem would be a good idea. A professional plumber is well placed to locate the cause of any blockage, large or small, and comes equipped with all the right qualifications, expertise and tools to resolve your issues quickly and at a relatively low cost.

Generally people think of plumbers as the people to call when you have a leaking tap, but today most plumbers offer a full service which includes the unblocking of various utilities around the home including sinks and toilets as well as offering solutions to outdoor drainage issues and blockages.

Using a selection of flexible probes, a plumber can often detect the cause of any blockage around the home quite easily. Pushing the thin metal rods down into your drainage system is often enough to find the place where the blockage ultimately begins and ends.

Most drain blockages around the home are caused by a collection of residue and grease. Bathrooms often fall victim to blockages from a build-up of soap residue, hair and general dirt while kitchen blockages are often caused by an accumulation of food waste, fat and grease. Fat, grease and soap scum often sticks to the internal wall of the drainpipes, over time making the opening smaller and causing the collection of smaller particles to clog together. This is where you can see that a plunger alone won’t fix the basic cause of the problem, but a plumber can.

Once a plumber locates the residue collection point he can then begin to disassemble the piping to remove the grime. However, if the blockage goes beyond the visible pipework, a professional plumber will use a powerful and highly pressured water hose specifically designed to blast away build up.

A modern everyday family can put a substantial amount of pressure on their drainage system so it’s always a good idea to make sure you have reputable plumbers at hand to call on in a drainage emergency.

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