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Why Basements Leak

Basement leaks are common problems in most areas. Determining where water enters the building is an important step in diagnosing the problem. Structural problems, an area’s soil condition, grading around a structure and many other factors can contribute to a water problem. The three areas that influence the proper diagnosis of a water problem are the basement floor, the foundation walls and the sill area of a house.

When water rises above the level of the basement floor it is commonly referred to as hydrostatic pressure. This phenomenon is caused by either ground or perched water. Perched water is water that is trapped in soils before entering into the aquifer. Usually after heavy rains perched water levels are at their highest. Pressure caused by perched water can find itself into basements through cracks in the basement floor, seams caused by construction and cracks or imperfections of a foundation wall. Ground water, or the water table, is a water level that usually remains at a constant depth. Increased periods of precipitation or influence by tidal surges can cause fluctuations in this level. Improper drainage at the lowest point of your basement’s foundation can lead to flooding.

What Is "Sick Home Syndrome"?
Source Website: http://www.aracontent.com

(ARA) - Sick building syndrome has become such a big problem in the United States in recent years, it's a phrase you can now find in the dictionary. It is defined as an illness characterized by skin irritations, headache, and respiratory problems that is caused by indoor pollutants, inadequate ventilation, and microorganisms, which include mould.

Toxic moulds have been making people sick since biblical times, but the scope of the problem really came to the forefront in 1996 when tests by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed the probable cause of the mysterious illness that killed one infant and sickened nine others at a Cleveland, Ohio, housing project. The babies, who lived within close proximity to one another, all suffered from the same rare lung disorder characterized by pulmonary hemorrhaging. The likely cause: Stachybotrys chartarum, a greenish-black mould. It was found in every one of their homes.

In recent years, the same toxic mould has been responsible for countless other incidents of sick building syndrome at schools, public offices and even single family homes. "Part of the problem is our current construction practices," says Seth Norman, CEO of Walled Lake, Mich.-based Mold Free, a nationwide mould inspection and remediation service. "We close our buildings tight to make them energy efficient, and as a result, building materials exposed to moisture never get a chance to dry out."

Visible mould can be cleaned off surfaces with a weak bleach solution. Mould under carpets typically requires that the carpets be removed and replaced, but what do you do about mould in the insulation or wallboard? It goes without saying, they too have to be replaced, but how do you know you have a mould problem behind your walls?

"That's the first place we look if there aren't any other visible signs of what's making someone sick in their home," says Norman. Signs of mould exposure include nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, fever and even shortness of breath. People with chronic illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mould infections in their lungs.

Mould enters the home through open doors and windows or on clothing, shoes and pets. Inside, mould can grow on virtually any surface when moisture is present. According to the National Association of Mould Professionals (NAMP) and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), you can reduce mould growth throughout the home by:

Keeping humidity below 40 percent.
Using an air conditioner or dehumidifier during humid months.
Making sure your home has adequate ventilation.
Drying any water leak within 24 hours.
Removing carpet in bathrooms and basements.
Disposing of mouldy materials immediately.
Cleaning hard surfaces regularly with mould-killing products. Allergy or asthma sufferers should ask non-sensitive people
     to apply cleaning products.

Solutions of soap and water may remove mould stains, but can leave mould spores behind. Those remaining spores, which are often invisible to the naked eye, can then quickly re-colonize. To decrease mould in homes, clean regularly with products designed to kill common household moulds.

What is That White Powder On My Foundation Wall?

That white powder is known as efflorescence and is caused when soluble salts and other water dispersible materials come to the surface of concrete and mortars. It's induced by low temperatures, moist conditions, condensation and water. It can occur very soon after exposure to moist or cool conditions or gradually, especially when it comes from within the concrete or from the sub grade.

Any material containing portland cement results in efflorescence. The most usual reaction occurs when calcium hydroxide (lime) formed in the hydration reaction of portland cement (approximately 140 pounds per cubic yard of concrete) is transported by water to the surface through capillaries in the concrete. There it combines with carbon dioxide from the air to produce calcium carbonate (an insoluble material) and water. But efflorescence can also be caused by hydroxides and sulfates of either sodium or potassium, which are much more soluble in water than calcium. And they form efflorescence more rapidly than calcium hydroxide. These salts can come from cement, aggregates, water, or admixtures.

Questions and Answers

Q: I have water in my basement… what should I do?


Remove the water and dry the area immediately. It is best to hire a professional with the proper dewatering and drying equipment to prevent a mould problem in the future. If unable to hire a professional use a wet/dry vacuum to remove the standing water, some towels to dry any remaining water and fans to accelerate the drying process. Take note of where you see the water and call Waterproofing Solutions so we can provide a solution for your problem.

Q: This is the first time my basement has leaked. Why has it started now?

Area Development:
More often new foundations that go into the ground can cause changing conditions with the flow of surface and sub surface water and cause water levels to rise. All new construction must have adequate dry wells to handle all water run off from that property. This forces additional water into the perched water table, which can affect nearby buildings.

Changing Weather Conditions:
Increased periods of rain and many other factors of our environment are changing every day. These can lead to elevated water tables or areas being saturated that are normally not.

Failure of Existing Waterproofing System:
Exterior foundation coatings may have failed due to age, plant growth or foundation movement. Dry wells can eventually clog or become overwhelmed during a large period of precipitation. Additionally interior systems placed in an area of high iron ore or silts are prone to becoming clogged and more frequent pump failure.

Gutters, Leaders and Grading:
Often referred to as “Waterproofing 101” gutters, leaders and the grading around a structure can have a large impact on water infiltration. Gutters and leaders allow the large amount of water collect off the roof to be directed away from the structure. Along with grading these items help direct water away from the foundation walls.

Age of a Structure:
Concrete and other building materials deteriorate over the course of time. As concrete ages it can crumble and the lime can be pushed out by hydrostatic pressure resulting in more porous concrete. On many occasions we have repaired block foundation walls that suffered from the outer course of block being completely absent.

Q: How do I know what waterproofing method will resolve my problem?

An Waterproofing Solutions™ representative will be glad to come and identify the source of your water issue. Primarily Waterproofing Solutions™ treats the problem at the source. If the wall has a crack and leaks during a rainstorm a drainage system is probably not the correct answer. Call us today for a free estimate.

Q: I will be moving soon, should I still fix the problem?

Yes! The value of your home can decrease up to 25% if a structural, environmental (mould) or water problem is discovered. Water evaporating into the air can cause increased humidity levels throughout the entire house causing additional issues.

Q: Why does my basement smell musty?

Foundations “sweat” when the dew point is reached. This is common in any foundation and is similar to filling a glass with ice water on a hot day. The optimum humidity level for a basement is 45%, this can be achieved with a high-efficiency dehumidifier. Do not be confused by exhaust fans that are on today’s market or underpowered smaller units typically purchased at a department store. Click here for more information on indoor air quality.

 
   
 
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