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Mike Shadid Foundation Consulting, Inc.
office (414) 379-1265
fax (262) 367-2062


Maintenance Tips:

How To Prevent Basement Problems

Many homeowners are not aware that basements require a certain amount of maintenance if they are to remain trouble free. Here is a list of items for outside and inside your basement that you should check twice a year - preferably in spring and again in fall.

Inside the basement maintenance checklist

Sump Pump: Make sure it pumps. Also, make sure that the water level is at least 8 inches below the top of the basement floor so the drain tiles drain properly. Poor drainage from the drail tile can result in plugged tile and leaks.

Palmer Valve: In some homes where the drain tiles meet the floor drain you will find a Palmer Valve. This is a valve -like door that only opens one way. It allows water from the drain tile in to the floor drain. Sometimes it can stick, causing water to back up through floor cracks and around the edges. Check to see that it is working freely or have your plumber do it.

Wall Cracks: All residential basements have some cracks which are perfectly normal and are a result of original settlement and/or shrinkage of construction materials. These cracks may have a tendency to open and close slightly with the changes in temperature and are no cause for alarm. However, any horizontal crack in a concrete block wall is a result of a wall's inability to withstand external forces. Many of these walls require reinforcement that should be done by a professional.

Outside the basement maintenance checklist

Grading: If water runs towards your walls rather than away, it can wear out the original waterproofing, or create more pressure than the walls can take; causing cracks. So, in the spring and fall check around the entire perimeter of your home (especially behind the shrubbery) and fill in low spots with soil. Concrete pitched toward the walls should be re-leveled or replaced.

Gutters and Downspouts: Clean leaves out of the gutters and downspouts. Seal leaking joints. Extensions and splash blocks should carry water at least four feet away from the walls. Downspouts that empty into the underground cast iron receivers should be tested with a water hose to make sure they are not plugged or broken.

Window Wells: Clean all debris out of window wells. There should be 18" of #1 washed stone in the bottom of each window well for drainage. If the original stone packed with dirt, dig it out and replace it. The edges of the wells should be tightly fitted to the walls and the ground around them raised so the rain and melting snow run away.

Sump Pump Discharge: If you have a sump pump pipe discharging on the ground make sure it carries the water far enough away from the walls. If it discharges below the ground, make sure connections don't leak and are not in danger of freezing in cold weather.

Trees: Roots from nearby trees can creep through the ground in search of water and grow right in to drain tile or create undue pressure on the walls. Willow tree roots for instance can travel in the ground four times the width of it's canopy. Consult an experienced landscaper or the County Agricultural agent when in doubt about the danger posed by trees or shrubs in your yard.

How to Chose a Basement Repair Contractor

Choosing a basement repair contractor is different than choosing almost any other kind of contractor because both the underlying causes and the real repairs are hidden by the ground, walls and floor. In most cases it will take some time before the quality of the repairs are tested. Therefore, this is very much a faith and trust business. You should check carefully on the experience, integrity and ability of the contractor.

  1.  Visit the contractor's office. Sometimes it is no more than an answering service. For references, take names of previous customers at random from his file.
  2.  Ask to see a job in progress to evaluate the competence of the workmen and their equipment.
  3. Resist all scare tactics. Repairs are seldom of an emergency nature.

Reliable contractors welcome careful investigations.

Information Copyright Mike Shadid 2011