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How Ground Water Causes Crawl Space or Basement Flooding

Regardless of where you live, there’s water in the ground.  In the Hampton Roads area we are surrounded by water above ground, from lakes, rivers and ocean. Typically, ground water settles at a certain level in the ground below and this level is known as the “water table.”  This is a pretty consistent measurement that is determined by types of soil in the area, elevation, proximity to large bodies of water and other topographical features. In the event, however, of a major snowmelt or prolonged heavy rains, the water table can rise and, when it does, crawl space or basement water problems often occur.  Moisture creeps into the home and your foundation is impacted by the hydrostatic pressure that creates.

How Changes in Ground Water Cause Crawl Space or Basement Flooding

It is helpful to understand more about the water table and what affects it. In the Hampton Roads area, for example, there are several key factors that determine the level of ground water.  A very significant one is the region’s proximity to several types of bodies of water.  Being near a large body of water causes the water table to be higher than elsewhere because of the water’s tendency to be absorbed inland and for ground water to seek the same level as the various bodies of water around it. Also, the soil in this region has quite a bit of clay in it (unless you are on coast line where you have sandy soils).  This clay soil is less absorbent than sandy soils and a substantial layer of clay can serve as sort of a sealant that holds water in, leading to drainage issues.

So, what does this mean to your crawl space or basement?

When the water table rises, it rises everywhere across the affected region and that means that it also rises underneath your foundation.  This creates a drastic increase in hydrostatic pressure against the foundation and that forces water into the crawls space or basement through even the most minuscule of openings, or through the uncovered soil at the bottom of your crawl space.  Also, as it penetrates your foundation it compromises its integrity.  Worse yet in the winter months when that water freezes, it expands creating further foundation damage. In a basement situation, preventing water seepage due to hydrostatic pressure is as simple as installing SDS drainage system on the interior or EZ Flow system on exterior of the foundation walls.  These systems alleviate hydrostatic pressure and carry the water off to a sump pump for discharge from the foundation. They also prevent water from entering the foundation by catching it on the outside of the walls and carrying it away from them home before they can cause damage. In a crawl space situation, preventing water seepage into the under carriage of the home is as simple as installing full encapsulation material under the home to prevent water from raising up from under the ground, with sump pumps to capture any moisture that creeps in or remains and carrying it away from the home. This is just two solutions to the problem, there are other drainage solutions that can put in place to alleviate hydrostatic pressure affecting your home.  At AMC911.com, we understand how elevations in the water table can cause damage to your home and we have installed literally miles of SDS/EZ Flow systems, vapor barrier, and thousands of sump pumps to prevent such damage.  This and other services have kept homes dry and healthy for thousands of satisfied customers for over 30 years, so why not ask for our free advice when you know we are approaching rainy and cold weather season?

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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 oversaturating 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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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

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What Type of Foundation Repair Do I Need?

Find out what kind of solutions we offer for your foundation repair problems at Atlas Master Companies.

Drywall Cracks

Photo of cracked drywall.Problem:

Drywall cracks are a common problem, yet they can be hard to diagnose and easy to ignore. Even when the crack is small, it can become a major issue because it can grow to become a major structural problem. Too much water, incorrect soil compaction on construction, or very hot and dry conditions can all cause drywall cracks.

Solution:

AMC will use underpinning products like steel push piers, helical piers, or plate anchors. The piers are pushed deep into the soil to produce a stable structure for the home. The choice of steel, helical, or plate will depend on the specific situation.

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Sinking Foundations

Photo of sinking foundation with tape measure showing distance. Problem:

Sinking foundations can be a big problem in Virginia homes. Have you ever walked out of your home and noticed that the ground around it is sinking down? Do your doors stick? Do you have wall or floor cracks? These could be signs of a serious foundation problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

Solution:

AMC uses ECP (Earth Contact Products) underpinning products like helical piers, steel push piers, and helical torque anchors. Steel push piers are the most common choice for sinking foundation repair, but helical piers are great for unstable rock basements. Once again, the solution will be specialized to your specific situation, and we will work with you for the best solution.

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Bowed Basement Walls

slab push pierProblem:

Bowed basement walls are due to pressure from water on the building’s foundation. This can be because of improper drainage in the yard, frost heave that causes pressure on different piece of the foundation, or because of improper original construction. In any case, this is a serious issue that threatens the safety of your home.

Solution:

There are three main solutions to this issue and they are helical tieback anchors, wall plate anchors, or carbon fiber straps. Helical tiebacks are put in through a small hole in the basement wall, and they will strengthen and revert the wall to its original position. Wall plate anchors will stabilize the wall and cause minimal damage to landscaping. Lastly, carbon fiber repair will go up on the walls, and it can be painted over afterwards for almost invisible coverage. These are just a few repairs you may come across, but please check out our website for more problems and solutions for your foundation. Contact AMC for a free estimate, and get started on keeping your house safe and comfortable for many years to come.

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Three Reasons for Insulating Your Crawl Space

The one time your crawl space is really on your mind is in the winter. The floors are cold, the heating bill is high, and if the bugs haven’t died yet they seem to be converging on your home. Unfortunately, most people forget about (or try not to think about) the crawl space beneath their home unless they have to. However, this can lead to bigger problems like poor air quality, cold floors above the crawl space, and higher energy bills. These reasons are why it’s important to think about insulating your crawl space.

Air Quality

An open window leading out to a garden. Crawl spaces, so often forgotten and disregarded, can become a major problem in your home when ignored. They are cool, and many times unfinished, and this can lead to moisture and insect or rodent problems. Moisture in the crawl space, as in a cool basement, is fairly likely because of the contrast of the heat outside compared to the space inside. This condensation can build up on the walls and floor and cause mildew, mold, or rot. These type of conditions also attract insects and rodents that thrive in these places. Mold, rot, and mildew can cause obvious air quality problems throughout your home from crawl space vents. Additionally, the smells and problems from rodents can cause a definite change in air quality in your home. Lastly, moisture may ultimately cause the floors above your crawl space to sag, and this could cost time and money to fix.

Cold Floors

Person on couch with feet up in reindeer socks. The crawl space is similar to a basement in terms of its purpose and its temperature variance to the rest of the home. However, basements are oftentimes insulated and do not cause the same problems as the neglected crawl space of your childhood nightmares. As previously mentioned, the crawl space tends to be colder than the rest of the house. This in turn causes cool air to go into the home from ventilation and through the floor (if uninsulated). This is obviously uncomfortable for the people in the home, and it can cause other issues.

Energy/Money

Cold crawl spaces, and crawl spaces in general, can cause higher energy bills. This means more money for you to spend. The heat will be working harder to try to heat up the cold, unfinished, uninsulated crawl space, and you will then end up paying more money for a space that you don’t even use. When the space is insulated, the heating will not have to work as hard to heat up the cold area, and your energy bills should go down. That way, you’re saving energy and your wallet. Contact Atlas Master Companies for a free quote and to see what insulating your basement can do for the comfort of your home today!

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The Complete Guide to Foundation Cracks (And How To Fix Them)

Do foundation cracks make you nervous? Cracks in your foundation – whether it be brick, concrete, or masonry – can be daunting.  You might immediately jump to thoughts of repairs, structural damage, and decrease in the value of your property. Before you worry, remember that not all foundation cracks are bad. In fact, most foundation cracks are completely natural and can be easily fixed. It is important to know the types of foundation cracks so you can diagnose yours. Make the best decision for your home.

Different Types of Settlement

The first step in understanding foundation problems is to know the different types of settlement. Certain types of settlement are more dangerous than others. Foundation settlement can essentially be categorized into two different types: house-615563_1920Uniform Settlement – each point of the structure sinks into the ground at the same time and same capacity. Uniform settlement can occur when all parts of a building rest on the same type of soil. No damage is done to the structure if the foundation settles uniformly as a whole. Damage can still occur to surrounding drainage systems, attached buildings, and underground utility lines. Differential Settlement – The opposite of uniform settlement. This occurs when different points of the structure settle while others remain stable. This is the main cause of dangerous foundation cracks and other structural problems. If every part of a building is resting on the same type of soil, differential settlement may not be an issue. However, in most cases, soil types, loads, and structural systems differ throughout a structure. When a building like this settles differentially, it can cause framework issues. These include sloping floors and bowing walls. They could also include leaning chimneys, and doors and windows that don’t shut. One of the main issues that occur when a foundation has settled differentially is foundation cracks. Understanding the types of foundation cracks is important for everyone Virginia Beach & Hampton Roads. Homes in this area are prone to differential settlement cracks, especially properties located near the water.

Vertical Cracks: Don’t Worry, They’re Normal

Non-threatening foundation cracks exist?! Yes, they sure do. If your foundation cracks are vertical, then you most likely don’t have anything to worry about. Vertical cracks that are slightly diagonal (within 30 degrees) are not cause for concern. Vertical foundation cracks are very common and can be seen in most households. They can occur due to concrete tension within the first few years of construction. They also form because of rains that create water pressure against the foundation. Fixing vertical foundation cracks is simple. Here’s what you should do:
  1. Mend the crack with an epoxy or polyurethane injection. These materials are lightweight, flexible, and waterproof – and can permanently seal cracks in your foundation.
  2. Protect your foundation from water intrusion to prevent future cracks. If your gutters are clogged, water could be pouring over directly onto your foundation. Also, short downspouts can allow water to pool up around your home. Make sure that your gutters are clear of debris and that your downspouts are extended at least 5ft away from your home. You may have to do some strategic landscaping if your house is on a hill that directs water down onto your foundation.

Diagonal Cracks: A Little Bit More Worrisome

crack-695010_1920

Diagonal cracks usually cause more concern than vertical cracks because they indicate differential settlement that can lead to serious structural issues in your home. When parts of your home settle more quickly than others, or sections of your home settle while other sections remain stable, it can cause uneven (or differential) settlement. If you have noticed diagonal cracks running about 30 to 75 degrees from vertical, it is important to get your foundation looked at. With a differential settlement, the foundation moves in two different directions, causing both vertical and horizontal tension. This creates diagonal foundation cracks. Diagonal cracks are sometimes hairline cracks. Diagonal cracks often occur in homes built on a hill, or homes with rapidly changing soil conditions due to excessive rain or drought. You repair diagonal cracks the same way that you repair vertical ones. However, it takes more material to prevent future movement. Also, with diagonal foundation cracks, it is important to determine where the exact settlement is located so that measures can be taken to prevent settlement there in the future.

Horizontal Cracks: You Don’t Want These

There are several different types of horizontal foundation cracks. They all indicate dangerous structural problems. wall-1179614_1920When the force of the ground is too much for a basement wall to bear, it bows inward and develops a mid-height horizontal crack. If you have a concrete or block basement foundation, your home is probably prone to this issue. Other causes of horizontal foundation cracks include damage from heavy equipment near the wall, frost heave, or excessive backfilling. If you have small horizontal cracks on a straight wall that is not bowing yet, it is important to closely monitor those cracks to see if the damage worsens. Be sure to call a foundation repair specialist to inspect your horizontal foundation cracks and implement the proper repairs.

Stair-Step Cracks: These Are Dangerous

cracked-brickworkStair-step cracks are diagonal cracks that occur in concrete block and brick foundations. The crack starts along a joint or near the end of the wall and climbs up or down. Like diagonal cracks, differential settlement causes stair-step cracks.

Get A Free Estimate And Inspection

Call Atlas Master Companies today. We come inspect your property and evaluate your foundation. Our experts have years of experience dealing with foundation cracks and know the exact repairs that need done. We value honesty and integrity in all that we do. We give you only the repairs you need for the right price. Call today to start.

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Received Customer Compliment for Patio Regrout

"Thank you, our patio looks great!" - J.M., Norfolk Resident

Be sure to ALWAYS go with Atlas Master Companies for all your masonry needs! patio regrout

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Atlas Master Companies Brick Lintel Repairs

Brick lintel replacement is one of our specialties.....

Don't let your brick lintels reach this point before giving Atlas Master Companies a call.

brick lintel replacement

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Southside Masonry Patio Pavers Re-grout Project

Southside masonry recently performed a complete re-grouting of a large size patio paver slab.

Check out the photos below and the quality of the workmanship.

The condition of the patio prior to work beginning Notice how all joints have been completely ground out to accomodate the re-grout work The finished product after a complete re-grouting and acid wash!!

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Basement Waterproofing Success!

From: Dianne P. Sent: Monday, October 04, 2010 3:01 PM To: Joe Houske Subject: AMC Success in Hampton VA basement drainageDear AMC, The equipment you installed last year (November 2009), after a flood which caused damage to our home, proved successful during the tropical storm Nicole and her aftermath. Our basement remained dry. Although our area experienced heavy rain and flooding I did not think we were experiencing any problems from the storm as I did not hear your equipment turning on, off, or running. The morning after the storm, while my husband was walking our dog, he noticed water being pumped from under our house per your design. My husband and I want you to know how very pleased we are with your technology and the results we experienced. Thank you! Dianne P, Hampton, VA

 

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