Living in the Hampton Roads area means living through the changing of the seasons. Having four seasons also means dealing with severe temperature swings from blazing hot to freezing cold. Humans have the ability to dress and prepare for these changes. Buildings and permanent structures do not. Your house is built with a foundation buried underground in soils that are porous, like a sponge. Different types of soils expand and contract at different rates when water is in them. In the summer, dry weather can result in soil shrinkage. In the winter, water trapped in the soil can freeze. Water expands when it freezes so the soil also expands. These constant cycles of expanding and contracting are the reason foundations fail.
In this area, soil is going to retain moisture during most of the seasons. During the winter, it gets cold at night and the ground freezes. The soil around your house freezes. As the ground freezes the expanding water pushes upward, resulting in what is called frost heave. This condition is usually seen on sidewalks, driveways and patios first. As time goes on, this up and down motion can create cracks or settling.
These affected areas then need to be lifted to become level again. But soil doesn’t always lift upward. If confined, it will also expand side to side, putting pressure on the foundation. This is the case weather you have a high or low crawl space, or even a basement. No home is exempt from this scenario.
As you can imagine, years or decades of soil expanding into a foundation will have an impact on the structural integrity of the concrete or cinder block. In concrete walls, cracks form as the wall is pushed beyond its limits. Water then enters the home if the crack is wide enough. Now the small crack is working on becoming a larger crack. Crack repairs need to be done correctly by injecting them with polyurethane. This prevents water from entering the crack altogether.
Another common problem is when pipes are drilled through the wall to get to an addition, lamp post or garage. Freezing ground is working on these pipes, up and down, weakening them until they fail to seal at the wall or even allowing water to enter the pipe.
Foundations made from cement block are actually more at risk from damage by frost. To understand why, you have to look at the way a cement, or cinder, block wall is made. Block walls are made by stacking hollow blocks on top of one another with cement or mortar in between them. While they hold up very well to pressure applied from the top pushing down, the weight of the house structure, they are not very strong laterally. The most common issue is tipping where the top courses start to bulge inward, or simply begin to crumble. A line is commonly seen at this joint indicating the shift. If allowed to continue it can get worse and require bracing, straightening, or worse yet new footings/foundation to be re-built.
What can I do?
Once your foundation has damage, it needs to be repaired. Cracks need to be properly fixed but it takes a trained eye to see the story the foundation is telling. To help keep this damage from happening, preventative steps can be made to help your foundation. Water management is key to a foundation’s health. Moving downspout water away from the foundation by using underground water extensions, French drains. Take a close look at the grade around your house. Are there areas of ponding water than can be re-graded to direct water away? Can yard drainage be installed to help move water to a better location?
If you would like one of our foundation and water management experts evaluate your home, schedule an appointment online or give us a call to set up a free estimate.
As you celebrate Labor Day and back to school time for the little ones, take some time yourself to learn a little something new. As they say, it is best to lead by example and your brain needs new things to learn to keep it young. Next time you are doing a little laboring around the perimeter of your home take a look around at your foundation walls. You are bound to find a crack. Why? Cracks in your foundation happen!
Builders approach us all the time to help them fix the foundations they just poured. It’s not that they do a bad job - it’s just the nature of the beast.
Most of Hampton Roads’ homes have poured concrete foundations. Having waterproofed and repaired many foundations we have seen all sorts of cracked foundations. Some cracking is normal, it is when settling happens that you need to enlist the expert and call AMC911.
Reasons for Cracks in your Foundation:
Anytime you core thru the foundation for installation of sewer, electric and gas lines, it weakens the concrete, which can result in cracking. Cracks are also commonly found angling off corners of crawl space or basement vents or windows. These areas are usually the first place we look when conducting a foundation analysis.
In simple terms, soil saturation = wet ground. Your foundation walls are supported by footings
. The footings are at the base of the walls, and hold up your house. When the soil under the footings becomes oversaturated, the footings “settle”, causing the walls to crack. Oversaturation can also cause the earth next to your foundation to expand in volume. Many foundations are not built to withstand that extra pressure. The excess weight of the soil can force the foundation to push inward. This is identified by diagonal cracks coming off corners. The leading causes for oversaturation are improper grading
, bad gutters or the need for underground sump pump and downspout extensions
On the other hand, not enough moisture in the soil can also cause foundation cracks. When the soil is desiccated, in other words, when moisture is drawn from the soil, usually as the result of a drought, the soil itself will shrink and cause foundation walls to shift outward and footings to settle. Such soil desiccation
occurs when trees, shrubs and other plantings near the foundation send root systems deeper into the ground in search of moisture, drawing it from the soil in areas that normally remain untouched. So, just because we live in Hampton Roads known for its humidity, do not assume you cannot have dry soils around your foundation.
Yup as solid as concrete looks, it shrinks and expands. The science of pouring concrete involves many factors and variables. Since water is used when concrete is mixed, there is an inherent expansion and subsequent contraction of the concrete when it dries. Many factors can affect the drying process, including the type of aggregate, mix of the concrete and humidity levels.
In life, timing is everything. Same holds true for concrete. Imagine your builder ran short on concrete when pouring your foundation - and the next ready mix truck didn’t arrive until the first batch started to harden. Your foundation would no longer be monolithic (one piece) at that point. A cold joint would naturally form, allowing water to easily seep through.
Death and taxes are two certainties in life. Often, so is a cracked foundation. Fortunately, the solution
is usually very simple, especially when you have AMC911, the expert you can rely on. Now your brain and your home will thank you J
Quality Foundation Repair Estimates – 7 Things To Consider Before You Buy
When you notice signs of foundation damage, either cracks in your foundation walls, or doors and windows sticking
upstairs, the next step you take is critical to the long-term health of your home and your wallet. Because foundation damage usually happens in stages, the stage at which you address it will determine the extent and cost of the repairs you’ll need.
Foundation problems that aren’t directly tied to poor construction, drought, or building on poor soil the wrong land, typically begin with too much water directed around the foundation. At the beginning stages of foundation problems, redirecting the water may be all you need to stop further damage. However, if the water has been over-saturating your foundation for a while or the damage is now more advanced, you’ll need to both manage the water and repair the foundation.
When calling on multiple contractors to repair the issue, don’t be surprised if each opinion differs greatly. One contractor might address only the symptoms while another also identifies and treats the root cause. So how can you figure out if you’re being recommended a band-aid or a true long-term cure? Below are some things that can help you decide.
- Proper Diagnosis– A quality foundation repair estimate should be based on information collected during a comprehensive review of your property. The estimator should have discussed with you the problem’s history, performed a close visual inspection of the current state of the problem, and when required used instruments to accurately measure and determine the extent of the damage.
- Unquestionable Methods– The repairs outlined in the estimate should involve a quality repair that goes beyond non-specialty DIY materials found at your typical “Big Box Stores”. It should be using heavy-duty commercial grade materials installed liberally along the structure to be repaired. In broad terms, if a company is recommending a nail, you should find a company who will routinely use screws or bolts instead.
- Price – Foundation repairs can be expensive when done correctly. Your foundation is no place to cut corners because it’s keeping the rest of your house standing. If the repair you choose doesn’t fix everything the first time, you will be the one paying the price a second time to have it repaired correctly.
- Complete Solutions– Make sure the professional you’re talking to about repairs explains what is happening to your foundation, why it’s happening, and exactly what measures are going to be taken to correct the current damage and the source that’s causing it. Don’t let a contractor leave you with unanswered questions.
- References– Repairing foundations properly, especially ones that have become unstable, requires a lot of experience. Look for a company that can provide references of people they’ve helped with similar problems to yours and is well respected in the industry and by their vendors.
- A Clear Contract– Your foundation repair estimate should provide clear details as to what will and will not be done as part of your project. Make sure to read and understand all the details as to what is and isn’t covered, as well as the General Conditions.
- Complete Warranty– Some warranties promise to repair or replace the materials used to fix the foundation, but say nothing about protecting the foundation from further damage. The better warranties protect the results. Remember a warranty is only as valuable as your ability to get it enforced.
Foundation repairs are serious business and you should hire only the true expert. At AMC911 Foundation & Waterproofing Repair Systems,
we treat every customer’s project as if we were doing it at our own house. Please make the best call and call us, we will be glad to prove you right J
Are you tired of this winter yet? I know we are, it seems to be a non-stop cycle of cold, ice, and snow. Let's set all that aside and daydream about green grass, sunny skies, and warm temperatures.
Now is the time to think about getting ready for spring cleaning and repairs. Take some time now to plan and make sure your home is strong, stable, and dry. With a few small tasks, you can determine if your home is in need of foundation repair. Or if it is something that you can handle yourself.
Take a Crack at Your Foundation
One of the clearest signs of foundation damage is discovering cracks
. Walk around the outside and inside of your home checking for cracks. Save yourself a bigger problem later. Also, make sure to check walls, windows, and doors where there are joints in walls. There are a lot of kinds and location of cracks and not all of them are serious. If you do find a crack, contact a professional (like Atlas Master Companies) to determine if something needs repaired.
Another area to check is your floor, whether you have a basement, crawl space, or slab. Floor cracks in concrete or tiling are usually a big indicator of some foundation issues.
Are Doors or Windows Sticking?
A common sign of foundation problems is usually ignored: sticking doors or windows
. Some people fix the symptom by shaving window or door frames or making other superficial adjustments. If doors and windows are tough to open, or seem to close on their own, your foundation may be off-kilter. Some settling occurs over the years in every home, but an expert can tell you if it is something that is not only serious, but also fixable.
Flowing Gutters Save Foundations
If the water coming off your roof doesn't drain well away from your foundation, you're going to have a bad time. The water should flow cleanly through the gutters, through the downspouts, and well away from the house. If your gutters are clogged, the water may spill over the sides, running down the foundation walls or pooling alongside the house.
Downspouts should also flow freely and empty around 5-10 feet away from the foundation. Make sure your gutters and also downspouts aren't clogged and are big enough to handle the water coming off of your roof. This is a pretty easy step that also gets overlooked, but can save you a lot of stress down the road.
Be Inclined to Have the Right Slope
Even if your home was originally built with the right slope and grade, there are factors that can change the angle of the land. Vehicles, erosion, and landscaping can all impact your property's grade. Make sure that land slopes away from your foundation, allowing rain and melting snow to flow away from your house.
Still Need Help?
If you also have signs of foundation problems or aren't sure what is going on with your foundation, give the pros at Atlas Master Companies a call. We'll check out your property and, if there is a need, we'll also give you an estimate for any repairs. Contact us
today to learn about foundation repair and also more from Virginia's best foundation repair company, Atlas Master Companies.
By implementing these simple steps in your home this year, you can save money on your energy bills and stay cozy all winter long. Take care of your home by acting now before the snow, ice, and cold take over. Here are some tips we have for you on winterizing your home:
Turn Down Your Water Heater
– Did you know that 14-18% of your utility bill is from your water heating? Most installers set water heaters at 140 degrees – but many homeowners don’t need it to be that high. By reducing your water heater to 120 degrees, you can save 6-10% on your utility bill. Here’s a heat loss prevention tip for you as well: try covering your water heater with a water heater jacket!
Winterize Your Windows
– To winterize your windows, purchase some caulk or weather strip at your local hardware store and apply it to seal air leaks throughout your home. For further air-tight sealing, we also recommend installing storm windows and storm doors during the colder months, which can increase your energy efficiency by 45%!
Clean Out Your Gutters
– Clearing your gutters is an important part of winterization. Be sure to remove twigs, leaves, and other debris that may have collected in your gutters. When drainage systems are clogged, rainwater will pour directly onto your foundation and seep into your basement and damage your structural support. Also, make sure that your downspouts are extended at least 5 feet to ensure that water flow is directed away from your home. If you are in need of gutter repair or new gutters
, Atlas Master Companies is the name to call.
Insulate Your Pipes –
It is important to keep your pipes from freezing as they could burst and become a dangerous flooding hazard. You can purchase a high R-value pipe foam
at your local hardware store and attach it to your pipes using duct tape.
Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
– This may seem like a strange winterization tip, but by reversing your ceiling blades to turn clockwise instead of counter-clockwise will generate an updraft that pushes hot air down into your living area. This works to circulate the heat into the room and can decrease your heating costs by 10%! Now that's an innovative way to winterize your home.
Upgrade Your Insulation
– Many Virginia homes are built with traditional fiberglass insulation. Unfortunately, this type of insulation works very poorly and can allow water to seep through your home. Atlas Master Companies offers Spray Foam Insulation
which will keep your home safe, warm, and dry all winter long. Not only that, but it will save you a lot of money on your energy bill and increase the value of your home!
Cover Outdoor Furniture
– If you have a grill and patio furniture outside, make sure it is thoroughly cleaned before you cover it. Make sure you buy a good quality cover to keep your items safe from ice and snow!
Set Your Thermostat
- Schedule your thermostat to decrease in temperature while you are away at work during the day. After all, do you really need to keep the house warm when no one is in it? For every degree you lower it, it can save you 1-3% on your energy bill! You can even have it lower at night while you are asleep, but be sure to pile on the blankets! People that lower their thermostat 10 degrees during these times see a 10-15% decrease in their heating expenses.
Inspect Your Roof
– When it comes to winterizing your home, it is important to keep your roof well maintained. Your roof should be inspected every two years. Make sure that it does not have any shingles that are loose, buckled, curled, or missing. Also look for moss and other growth that needs to be removed. If your roof is warped, has dark spots, or damaged flashing, it’s time to get it repaired before winter hits. Attic leaks can be detrimental to the health of your home and let a lot of cold air in during the winter.
– Make sure that all of your outdoor hoses and air conditioner pipes do not have excess water collected in them since they might freeze over the winter.
Maintain Your HVAC
– Another important part of winterization is maintaining your HVAC. Get a professional to check your HVAC before winter hits. Your air filters should be checked every month. If they are dirty, clean them out so that they do not restrict airflow and increase your energy bill.
Choose The Right Contractor
- If you are in need of winterization services in the Virginia Beach
, Hampton Roads, Norfolk, and Chesapeake Area, call Atlas Master Companies. We offer gutter replacement and repair, home waterproofing
, free foundation inspections, spray foam insulation, and more! Let us help you prepare your home for winter and keep it safe, warm, and dry for years to come.
Through the use of pier supports, a cracked concrete floor in Virginia Beach was stabilized by the professionals at Atlas Master Companies.
us to learn more about all the services we offer in the Virginia Beach area.