From The Foundation Up

W.E. Young Renovations Ltd.| Edmonton renovations

Telling it like it is...

(DIY) Foundation repair is not a do-it-yourself project for most people. If you believe you are qualified and up for the task... read on.

The first order of business is discovering the source of the water you have found on your basement floor. Is the water coming from a backed up floor drain, a leaking pipe or somewhere else? If the source of the water is not because the cat or dog was feeling indifferent to the litter box or would rather not take a walk outside, the chances are a crack has formed in the basement foundation wall.

Before breaking open walls and tearing up carpet, walk around the outside of your home. Look for a source or cause. If the evident water is near a basement window, look closely at the corners of the window. It is very common for concrete to crack in these locations. Depending on the cause of the crack, it could be running relatively vertical and could indicate some lateral force be placed on the length of the basement wall. If the crack is diagonal, a common cause is settlement. Looking closer at the crack in the window area, observe if a window well is located in front of the window and does it appear to be filled with drain rock and is it draining correctly. It is common for DIYers to install a window well, not knowing how to correctly drain it or not be aware that it needs to drain. Other cracks are common within 8-10 inches of the out side corner of an exterior foundation wall. Cracks are also found in locations where footing heights change, as seen with step footings for split level homes.

Now that you have discovered the source of the leak, a question to ask yourself is "how do you remove the source water" and "is it even possible to remove the source of water"? In the case of a window well, with no well drain. The solution for the cause is installing a window well drain when dealing with the effect, “repairing the crack”.

Exterior foundation crack repair commonly deals with the cause and the effect. Excavated soil management needs to be your first thought. Don’t underestimate the amount of soil coming out of the hole you will be digging. Where are you going to pile the soil? Consider the fact that the soil from an eight foot deep hole spreads out to about twice the size of the hole due to bulking. Even if the soil piled around the hole is only four feet in height, that makes the hole you dug 12 feet deep... Very dangerous. It is best to move the soil away from the hole or off site completely if required.

Bridging a crack in the foundation wall is paramount when repairing and waterproofing it. An "isolation barrier" such as dimpled membrane is a good product to use for this, the membrane keeps frozen soil from pulling at the repair in the future and it provides a backup layer allowing future rain water to drain down to the weeping tile.

If your plan includes injecting urethane or epoxy into cracks and voids, it is recommended to do this before excavating. These products have advanced greatly, and provide an ideal backer for placing finishing coats over to renew the look of exposed foundations. It should be noted that the hit or miss of blindly pumping expanding foams into cracks can result in plugging weeping tile or missing sections due to the fact you can not see where the product is going. WE have witnessed this as a "fact" when excavating the exterior to complete a repair.

As a side story, we were called to a house that had been experiencing water leaking through a crack and along the perimeter base of the same wall.
The customer had either hired someone or bought a kit from BIG BOX STORE and drilled for the ports along the crack and along the length of the wall base. They injected the ports and over the course of several days, chasing water coming in with more holes and ports at the perimeter.
We were called by the customer for solution. What the customer had not known was by drilling holes so closely together, we believed a fail point may have been created at the base of the concrete wall. Similar to a dotted hole on paper that says “TEAR HERE” It was not know by us or by the customer whether the holes were drilled completely through the wall. WE agreed to excavate an area of the home before committing to a solution.
What we did find was, ice or snow must have been in the original form work prior to pouring the concrete and left a void several meters long. The void was large enough to place a hammer handle under portions of the wall. The injected foam had filled some of the voids which required removal to repair due to the product not having the compressive strength required to hold up the wall. Secondly some of the foam had migrated to the weeping tile and had plugged it completely. Long story short “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW”

Concrete has been used to construct buildings before modern time and many structures still stand today. Those structures have seen cracking and have all been repaired, to some degree. A tomb on the ancient Appian Way in Rome, the Pantheon and Roman Colosseum are just a notable few. There are parts of aqueducts and drainage systems though-out the world, used to this day.

Portland cement, aggregates and silica sands are a large part of concrete, "asbestos" being added to concrete is more modern and was developed in the early 1900’s. The asbestos fibres were used for typical fibre tensile strength benefits, although some testing indicated that they didn’t actually add much improvement. These fibres are fire resistant and may provide much benefit in this respect. It should be noted that "asbestos" fibres have been added to plasters and mortars too.

Knowing what your foundation is made from and how to protect yourself from not only contaminating your home, but repairing a failing foundation correctly is understanding what products you are dealing with and having certified professionals guide you or do the work for you.

Know that anyone in Alberta can do work on their own home and anyone living in Alberta can apply for and get a business license, buy business cards and have a website designed. Anyone in Alberta can put signage on their truck and put on coveralls. YouTube educated and being able to read product instructions does not certify any of those who chose to not take the time to receive accredited training or recieve testing in the trade. Truly, its a no brainer when it comes to who should be working in your home. Ask to see certifications.

We at WE Young Renovations Ltd. truly believe education is key, we are Red Seal Certified Tradesmen and Alberta Asbestos Abatement Certified. "Ask to see our certificates"...

Know the risks, if anyone including the contractor is exposed to asbestos while working in your home, their/your risk of ASBESTOSIS and MESOTHELIOMA increases. As anyone who has been trained to correctly provide asbestos abatement knows "containment and encapsulation" is key.

With-out getting into procedures, a certified and qualified proffesional will know when testing concrete, drywall and mortar should be done prior to doing any work inside the home. It is their health too.

Today has brought injections as a fast and simple ways to fill a foundation crack. We understand doing this type of repair has its time and place but not with-out risks. Testing by Alberta Certified professionals will give you the assurance if work is being done inside your home, you are not contaminating your home instead of fixing it. Understanding that "drilling and grinding" concrete puts dust into the air. If the dust contains hazardous material, it can and will migrate to your living space and be breathed by all occupants of the home until it is totally "filtered" out or "breathed" in.

For those who are selling a $500.00-$2000.00 interior repairs, would be asked by an educated client if that includes containment and HEPA filtered air... has the drywall, concrete or mortar been tested? Are they Alberta Red Seal Certified? If the (THIRD PARTY) testing comes back with asbestos in it, are they Alberta abatement certified and qualified and what is the "COST". It should be noted that all Alberta certified professionals carry with them their certificates and can present them when requested. Don't missunderstand, most homes from the 70's till today have very limited or no asbestos, but do contain material with silica.

Education can be scary but should not be considered a fear tactic, all the information is readily available in MSDSs documents and can be researched. Some examples of workers with high potential risk for crystalline silica exposure are those involved in: stone cutting, foundry work, sand blasting, concrete mixing and grinding, rock drilling, tunnelling and jack hammering.

Open air (Outside) repairs are not with-out risk either. Not being inside the home and exposing the occupants proves there is an exceptionally less chance of causing concerns to indoor air quality because you are "not inside grinding/drilling" before filling a crack with injected urethane or other products.

It is your castle, deal with professionals that are qaulified and certified and trust the Red Seal for all tradespersons.

WE work on most homes from the outside-in and from the foundation up for many reasons.

DIY foundation repair

For a professional contractor with reasonable prices…. Call us, WE can help. 780-453-8960

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