Five Tips For Avoiding Frozen Pipe Damage During Winter

December 29th, 2017

Maintaining Pipes in Good Condition

Many different circumstances potentially contribute to wet, damp basements and crawl spaces. However, homeowners do frequently enjoy an opportunity to prevent some avoidable leaks. One all-too-common cause of flooded basements causes inconvenience for unwary North Carolina homeowners who vacation away from home for extended periods during the winter months. Frozen pipes create significant unnecessary financial losses. Follow some practical tips to minimize your risk of encountering unwelcome basement water leaks from this source:

1. Tip Number One: Become Aware of This Hazard

Frozen pipes sometimes contribute to water leaks because they permit water to freeze. As this change occurs, the water gradually forms ice and expands in size. (You’ve probably seen this phenomenon occur at home if you’ve ever used a freezer to prepare home-made ice cubes. If you fill an ice cube tray completely to the rim with water, when you prepare to extract the ice cubes you’ll discover them extending well above the top of the tray.) While a pipe full of liquid normally won’t burst, the transformation of water into ice frequently causes intense pressure on the interior of the pipe. As it forms, ice may even tear or rupture a metal or plastic pipe. When a thaw occurs, the ice melts and the pipe begins leaking. Many plumbing companies enjoy brisk business in the spring because homeowners failed to realize water pipes located in outdoor locations (or adjacent to exterior walls or cold basements) might freeze.

2. Tip Number Two: “Winter Proof” Your Home During Extended Absences

If you plan on remaining away from your home or North Carolina vacation residence for extended period of time during colder months, you may benefit by obtaining winterizing services. A technician can turn off the utilities to the residence and drain out water from the pipes to ensure ice won’t form inside your home’s plumbing system during a freeze. Vacant properties which don’t undergo winter weatherizing sometimes prove especially vulnerable to frozen pipe problems.

3. Tip Number Three: Request Periodic Plumbing Inspections

Some plumbers will assist homeowners in North Carolina by providing plumbing inspections before the arrival of winter. This service may help you determine if any of your home’s water pipes appear at higher risk of freezing. Additionally, a plumbing inspection during the early spring sometimes assists homeowners in locating interior water leaks caused by broken pipes. In some situations, water pipes running along the inside of exterior walls freeze and later develop leaks; detecting leaking water from this source proves difficult without cutting into the drywall. Recent advances in thermal detection technology now permit more reliable leak detection. Many plumbing companies possess this equipment. A plumber can offer useful advice about pipe insulation.

4. Tip Number Four: Monitor Basement Temperature Levels

If you do own a home with an unfinished and unheated basement or unsealed crawl space, you may find it helpful to closely monitor the temperature in this location. Under normal circumstances, exposed water pipes won’t typically begin leaking. Frozen pipes can cause considerable problems, however. By paying close attention to basement temperatures, you can sometimes take quick preventative action to prevent pipes from freezing during colder months. One important safety item deserves special mention: never attempt to stop a water pipe from freezing by applying a direct heat sources to the pipe. Taking this action can cause a fire and health hazard and produce very significant plumbing damage.

5. Tip Number Five: Insulating At-Risk Pipes

If your home has an unfinished basement, some pipes in this location may remain at risk of freezing during cold weather. One simple yet effective step may involve wrapping cloth or other insulating materials around the pipe. Always follow your plumber’s recommendations (you should not insulate certain pipes). Many homeowners also seek to protect exposed outdoor faucets by covering them during the winter. Your plumber can offer helpful recommendations about insulating specific pipes during a plumbing inspection.

Obtain Skilled Waterproofing Assistance

Today, waterproofing experts often work closely with plumbing companies to assist homeowners in maintaining leak-free basements and crawl spaces. A frozen water pipe causes great inconvenience. Property owners can usually avoid this type of leak by taking precautions to keep their home’s water and sewer pipes well-protected.

Further Information

If your home in Southern Pines, Fayetteville or surrounding areas suffers from a leaky basement or crawl space, Drainage & Waterproofing Solutions,LLC” provides useful assistance. We offer full time basement waterproofing and moisture control services, as well as crawl space encapsulation, French drain installation, and interior drain and sump pump installation. Call us at 919-235-5219 for fast, skilled assistance!

Achieving Better Basement Moisture Control

September 24th, 2017

Moisture Control Matters in Basements

Today, a growing number of homeowners appreciate the vital importance of keeping residential basements clean and dry. Water seeping into the interior through damp basement walls or flowing back into the residence from a malfunctioning basement drain poses a significant hazard. It may damage air quality, or even cause structural problems.

Some Helpful Guidelines

Consider using some of these tips to achieve dry basement conditions throughout the year:

1. Ascertain the source of water entering damp basements.

Many factors contribute to the development of moisture in basement areas. Some of the most common potential sources include:

  • An elevated water table;
  • Leaky plumbing or a leaky roof;
  • Water soaking through basement walls into the interior of the home;
  • Very high local humidity;
  • Flooding in some low-lying terrains;

By identifying the chief source (or sources) of moisture in the basement, you’ll find yourself in a much better position to correct this problem.

2. Use a dehumidifier to help reduce basement moisture.

Installing a dehumidifier system in the basement helps some homeowners reduce moisture in basements and lower levels of a residence. In fact, some experts recommend using this technology on a 24/7 basis in some locales. Today many dehumidifying systems activate automatically, triggered by ambient room humidity.

3. Obtain regular plumbing inspections and maintenance.

Asking a qualified plumber to check over your plumbing system on at least an annual basis helps ensure leaky water, sewer pipes or malfunctioning drains won’t contribute to basement water accumulation and dampness. Although some pipes, such as high-grade copper pipes, will function well for decades, after the passage of time aging pipes eventually wear out. Repairing sections of corroded or broken pipe promptly ensures leaks won’t spew water into lower areas of the residence.

4. Ensure any basement household laundry appliances vent outside the basement.

Some older homes still rely on basement laundry rooms. If your appliances operate with popular vent systems, you’ll want to ensure the hot, moist air from these machines exits outside the basement, not where it could cause condensation to occur along interior walls. (However, take care to position vents in a way which prevents water from the exterior of the home from draining back inside the basement through vent systems during periods of heavy rain)

5. Consider seeking sump pump installation to promote a dry basement if your reside in an area subject to water buildup.

Sump pumps perform valuable service in basements in many locations in the United States. These pumps help force water out of basement areas. They may prove especially useful in preventing seasonal water accumulation, for instance. A waterproofing expert can provide assistance helping you select the best type of sump pump for your home’s basement.

6. Take steps to dampness-proof basement walls, especially foundation walls located below ground-level.

Sealing cracks helps prevent moisture from seeping inside the basement. Try and determine the basis for the formation of the crack; in some cases, this symptom could signify issues warranting the attention of waterproofing experts and/or construction engineers.

7. Don’t permit untreated woods to come into direct contact with the ground in lower levels of your home.

In some older homes, unfinished basements lack flooring. Wooden steps may directly contact excavated soil in these locations. Homes with low-lying windows may expose window frames to seeping water. Adjoining wet soil causes moisture to leak into the wood and create rotting and moldy conditions. This situation may even attract termites. One important aspect of basement moisture control involves remedying these situations. Protecting wood with waterproofing surface treatments and the application of waterproof siding helps minimize water penetration. Additionally, excavating around the exteriors of low-lying basement windows to install covered window wells sometimes proves very helpful also.

If Moisture Problems Persist

If you take steps to control moisture in a finished or unfinished basement yet problems persist, give serious consideration to consulting a full-time waterproofing firm. For instance, we offer services to help maintain a dry, comfortable environment in basements. We’ll help develop a plan to help keep the lower levels of residential property dry, and structurally sound.

The investment you make in eliminating dampness from a residential basement now may help enhance your household’s quality of daily life. Over the course of time, waterproofing returns other long term benefits, too. It helps optimize the anticipated useful lifespan of a residence. Measures to control dampness in basements help promote mildew and mold-free environments, for instance. Taking simple moisture-control steps can yield tremendous savings!

Residential Waterproofing: An International Concern

July 19th, 2017

The importance of waterproofing in the architectural design and construction industries obtained international recognition recently. Increasing interest in this emerging field prompted the Property Care Association to sponsor a second annual conference. Experts in the fields of structural waterproofing, construction, real estate development and architectural design will speak at the event in Coventry, England on Thursday, July 6, 2017. The PCA has worked in the UK together with the NHBC, an insurance company, to promote a new set of proposed best waterproofing construction standards.

The day-long conference, held at Warwick University, will focus on three key areas of interest to businesses involved in waterproofing residential units: architectural design, planning specifications and best practices. Speakers at the conference plan to address topics such as the impact of soil mechanics and hydrology on basement waterproofing and correcting common problems with deck waterproofing systems. The PCA’s CEO Steve Hodgson described the 2016 conference as a “great success”.

Waterproofing Conferences in the United States

The waterproofing industry has also attracted strong interest in many parts of the United States. For example, a large international industry trade show and convention sponsored by RCI, Inc. will celebrate its 33rd year between March 22nd and March 25th in 2018. The sponsors anticipate many interested waterproofing industry professionals will attend the upcoming event in Houston, Texas. Papers presented at the proceeding will cover a variety of issues, including waterproofing walls and significant new developments in waterproofing materials research.

Around the USA, architects, home builders, engineers, construction industry professionals and real estate agents often discuss waterproofing topics in conferences and continuing education classes. The development of innovative new products to protect residential basements, foundations and crawl spaces from water damage has contributed to interest in this field. Some product manufacturers also offer programs about residential waterproofing.

Addressing a Pervasive Problem

Interest in promoting new standards for waterproofing housing in the UK arose after the disclosure insurance claims in that nation for damage to basements since 2005 had exceeded 21 million British Pounds (equivalent to over $26.7 million). Leaky, waterlogged basements have imposed significant costs upon residential insurance companies, home builders and homeowners in Britain during the past decade.

In the United States, a far more populous nation, the total financial toll exacted by seeping, water-filled basements likely proves considerably higher. However, homeowner policies in the USA do not cover most problems caused by water seeping into basements. A vivid illustration of the magnitude of this problem occurred last year. During August, 2016, heavy rainstorms across Louisiana produced flooding in many communities, damaging an estimated 40,000 buildings in a single weekend of heavy downpours. The incident caused severe hardship for thousands of families who sustained extensive property losses caused by water despite residing outside of designated flood plains.

Protection For U. S. Homeowners

Reportedly, a few insurance companies in the United States will provide specific endorsements for accidents involving the catastrophic failure of a sump pump. Special endorsements in some policies also safeguard against damage caused by sewer line backups. Experts caution property owners must consult their individual policy provisions to determine whether or not they enjoy coverage for those types of potentially very expensive disasters.

Flooding occurs fairly frequently in some locations in the USA. Home buyers seeking mortgages on homes lying within flood plains must typically request government-sponsored flood insurance marketed through private insurance firms in order to obtain purchasing finance approvals. Unfortunately, these insurance policies typically won’t cover water damage originating in basements. Additionally, as many unfortunate Louisiana residents discovered in 2016, seeping water does sometimes impact properties lying well outside designated flood plains. Both homeowners in low-lying areas who fail to purchase flood insurance and property owners of waterlogged residences in locations outside flood zones may encounter steep, sudden financial losses as a result of unexpected water damage.

Crafting a Waterproofing Strategy

If you fall into one of these completely unprotected categories, at a minimum you should probably consider consulting with a basement waterproofing expert to discuss strategies to better protect your residence in the event of nearby flooding or unusually heavy rainfalls. Installing a sump pump and/or interior basement drains, waterproofing lower level windows and carefully landscaping the area around the home may all help mitigate property losses in the event of heavy rains and rising water table levels. Planning ahead to remove water quickly from basements in some cases can prove valuable.

Retaining Walls: A Powerful Tool For Promoting Dry Basements

June 16th, 2017

The Benefits of a Dry Basement

Dry, waterproof basements offer advantages for property owners. Many households utilize these areas for storage purposes, for instance. Today, architects frequently design attractive walk-out basements on lower levels.

A finished basement permits homeowners to utilize lower-level living spaces more completely: dens, game rooms, exercise rooms, home offices, hobby rooms and sometimes bedrooms and bathrooms occupy underground locations in numerous dwellings. Yet to maximize your family’s enjoyment, you must ensure these areas remain dry and comfortable. Some landscaping features can help further this objective. Retaining walls, an ancient tool, today often perform an important role in helping real estate owners optimize their basement living spaces.

Retaining Walls Serve Many Purposes

In its most basic form, a “retaining wall” holds soil in place to help maintain it at a preferred slope. Builders sometimes use retaining walls to showcase the entrances of walk-out basements or patios, for instance. Retaining walls may also encourage rainwater or melting snow to flow away from a residential slab.

To some extent, every basement wall constitutes a retaining wall. Why? This structure must withstand intense lateral pressure from the surrounding soil. An individual retaining wall may serve a highly practical purpose, (such as supporting a basement or preventing runoff from flowing towards a residential foundation), or it may fill a purely aesthetic role by contributing greater visual interest to a yard.

Retaining Walls: Rural And Urban, Too!

Retaining walls have assisted agriculture for centuries. In the past, farmers in places as far flung as China, Peru and Italy relied extensively on terraces and retaining walls to create level plots of arable land on steep hillsides for cultivation purposes.

While this use of retaining walls remains important in many locations, today retaining walls also perform important landscaping roles in cities and suburbs. In urban areas, retaining walls have enabled engineers to re-shape densely populated landscapes to permit the installation of underground parking garages, sidewalks, steps and sloping highway access ramps.

Popular Types of Retaining Walls

Landscapers and architects have developed a variety of useful specialized retaining walls, as well as several ancillary or alternative soil stabilization techniques. Some popular approaches for holding soil in place include:

An Anchored Wall: Often described as a “counterfort wall”, this specialized retaining wall includes a series of concrete-reinforced anchored cables and beams extending from the wall into a hillside or rock face at regular intervals. Typically made from concrete, these walls usually require the assistance of an experienced engineer to construct. Intended to retain high loads, they sometimes exceed 25 feet in height.

A Gravity Wall: This type of retaining wall relies upon its huge mass to defy the lateral pressure of the surrounding soil. Built from heavy stone, concrete or even stacked steel comparments filled with stone, these thick walls typically remain broader at the base and do not exceed four feet in height.

A Piling Wall: These attractive retaining walls occur in several forms, including bored pile retaining walls and sheet pile retaining walls. The builder inserts planks of wood or vinyl into soft soil or drives bored piles into harder ground, then adds anchors to further secure the wall. Each plank or pile remains only one third above ground.

A Cantilever Wall: Often constructed from cast-in-place concrete or reinforced steel, this type of retaining wall includes an underground lower extension at the base projecting into the surrounding soil. The wall sometimes resemble an upside-down “T” in shape. It typically requires considerable planning to install cantilever retaining walls correctly.

Soil Nailing: This technique reinforces retaining walls or excavations with beams (usually steel bars) inserted downwards into the ground at a slight angle without tension.

Mechanical Stabilization: A landscaper may perform this technique by using layers of horizontal mats to help affix soil in place and keep it in contact with the surface of outer-facing concrete walls.

Choosing Retaining Walls

Although retaining walls perform straightforward functions in residential settings, selecting the best type of wall and the best site for these structures sometimes proves complex. Factors such as the degree of slope, the type of soil, the extent of freezing, water drainage, nearby infrastructure and even potential seismic activity in the area may all become important considerations. For instance, the Soil Society of America recommends property owners consult with an engineer before installing a retaining wall on any slope exceeding a 3:1 ratio.

By reinforcing basement walls and/or encouraging water runoff away from the foundation, a well-installed retaining wall may enhance a home’s useful lifespan. These structures also frequently contribute significantly to the beauty of the landscaping. Call us for assistance with any retaining wall or waterproofing project!