Basements, cellars and safety

Not every home has a basement. And not every homeowner wants one. In fact, only 32% of homebuyers in 2018 preferred a house with a basement. Twenty five percent wanted a half basement, and 44% did not want a basement. That’s a stark contrast from 2003 when 54% of homebuyers wanted a basement, 14% wanted a half basement, and 29% wanted no basement. (Source: HousingEconomics.com

Newly constructed homes are most likely to be built on a slab foundation, with 28% of new single-family homes having a full or partial basement. Basements are more popular in the West North Central region, which includes seven Midwestern states ranging from North Dakota to Missouri. Eighty-three percent of new single-family homes started in 2014 in this region had a full or partial basement. (Source: The Day

Building codes and climate also impact structural preferences. Missouri tends to have wet spring and summer seasons, and the waterlogged earth can easily lead to basement leaking or flooding. 

The state also experiences an average of 30 tornadoes a year. (Source: Missouri Climate Center) The safest place to seek refuge during the threat of a tornado is a basement or cellar. If the home lacks a basement, the lowest level away from windows and doors is the best bet. 

If you have a basement, it is important to be aware of its condition and maintain its upkeep. Your basement contains your home’s foundation, and it’s important to have a healthy, safe and sound one. 

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If your basement is wet, cracked, or smells musty, our basement waterproofing experts can help!

Do you notice any of these problems in your basement?

  • Leaking water through walls, floor, or windows 
  • Standing or flooding water 
  • Efflorescence (white crystalline deposits) on walls or floor 
  • Dampness or high humidity 
  • Musty odors 
  • Mold or mildew 
  • Condensation 
  • Sump pump issues

    What is causing these issues? 

    The Clay Bowl Effect  

    Excavated soil that is replaced around a completed foundation isn’t as dense and tightly packed as undisturbed soil farther away. As a result, water collects in the soil immediately surrounding the house, putting pressure on foundation walls and causing cracks. 

    A sizeable hole was dug in the ground when your home was built. The foundation was then poured, which left a gap between the foundation walls and the existing earth. This gap was filled with soil that was removed and “fluffed up.” This soil is looser, more aerated than the surrounding soil, which may have been compressing for hundreds of years. Thus, the looser soil tends to absorb more water than the compacted soil. More water against the walls leads to hydrostatic pressure. (Source: Bob Vila

    The type of soil around your home is another factor affecting your house. While there are hundreds of types of soil throughout Missouri, Menfro is the state soil. It is comprised of various silt loam (soil that contains not less than 70% silt and clay, and not less than 20% sand) and some clay loam, and it is considered desirable for building. (Source: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Missouri) Other soils (including Kickapoo, Dockery, Leonard, and Sampsel) are prone to flooding and are unstable due to shrinking and expanding, so it’s best to have your soil tested to determine what the ground can support. (Source: Hunker

    Hydrostatic Pressure 

    As soil around your foundation becomes soaked with moisture, it expands and puts pressure on your foundation. Hydrostatic pressure is the constant force of water pressure on the foundation walls. When this force becomes more than the walls can handle, the walls will begin to crack and bow inwards. 

    This affects the structural integrity of the walls. Water also will then work its way through any opening available, including cracks and openings around pipes or windows. 

    Water sitting behind foundation walls will find and fill invisible openings in the surface of the porous concrete it touches. This contributes to capillary action, creating a series of tiny veins that will seep on the other side. (Source: JES Foundation Repair

    Inefficient Sump Pump System  

    Sump pumps are essential in keeping water out of basements. Think of a basement waterproofing system as the body’s circulatory system; a properly functioning sump pump is the heart of the system. Older, failing sump pumps will only allow water to continue to collect in the basement. 

    The most common sump pump systems are installed in metal basins in the floor with lids that rest on top of the basin and have openings for the discharge pipes. Some may not have lids at all. These are ineffective systems that will only cause more problems. The metal basins can easily rust and corrode, and partial or nonexistent lids allow water to evaporate back into the basement. This results in unpleasant odors and moisture issues that defeat the purpose of the sump pump in the first place. Objects and debris also can easily fall into the system and damage the pump if the sump pit is not completely covered. 

    Improper Exterior Drainage 

    Clogged or above-ground exterior drainage pipes could allow water to puddle next to the home and find its way inside any crack or gap in porous block foundation walls. Above-ground downspout conductor lines are unsightly tripping and safety hazards. Burying these lines under the ground and directing them far away from your home is the best way to keep water from downspout conductor lines out of the house. 

    You also need to think about the condition of this buried drainage system. These pipes fail to do their job if they crack or collapse, and you could end up with puddles of water in your basement. Older clay pipes commonly split, break, or crack.  

    Some traditional downspout conductor lines buried underground have no outlet for drainage. Since they are sitting in the ground, they could become clogged with dirt and other debris. This could lead to a back-up or overflow of water that will cause additional headaches. 

    Why is it important to address these problems? 

    Water intrusion and damage can be detrimental to your home for a variety of reasons. Along with ruining any stored belongings, leaking water can lead to mold growth and unpleasant odors, and even result in flooding conditions. 

    These issues also result in unhealthy conditions that affect the rest of your home. Because of the stack effect, air circulates through your home from top to bottom, like a chimney. So, whatever is in your basement and/or crawl space (mold, moisture, odors) is in the rest of your house. 

    While building code calls for vented crawl spaces for air drying purposes, this is harmful to the home. Hot and humid air enters the crawl space during the summer, which contributes to high levels of moisture and humidity in the crawl space and home. This can lead to sagging, soft, buckling floors above, and result in problems to hardwood floors. Similarly, cold air is vented in during the winter, making the above floors feel chilly and overtaxing your furnace. (Additional resource: Liabilities of Vented Crawl Spaces, Their Impacts on Indoor Air Quality in Southeastern U.S. Homes and One Intervention Strategy

    Leaking water also affects your home’s structural integrity. If you have block foundation walls, water can easily saturate and seep through the porous material and find its way inside through any crack or gap. If water has nowhere to go, it starts building up inside the walls. Coupled with hydrostatic pressure, this results in an unsafe mess for your foundation walls and basement floor. 

    Your home is a significant investment, and it is important to ensure its health and safety today and for the future. The longer you neglect these issues, the more costly future repairs will be. A wet, nasty basement also affects the value of and ability to sell a home.  

    What should you do next? 

    Contact us! We will be happy to schedule an appointment for you with one of our highly trained inspectors. Inspections are free and no obligation to you, and our specialist will complete a thorough evaluation of your home. We also are proud to work with realtors, commercial property owners, and other various affiliates. 

    If you are concerned with repair needs and insurance coverage, be sure to check with your insurance carrier, as all policies are different. 

    Here are some helpful tips for selecting a reputable contractor, courtesy of Today’s Homeowner. We are proud to meet and exceed expectations on these points: 

    • No Contract Labor: Make sure the people performing the repairs work for the company. 
    • Financial Commitment: Does the contractor own or rent his equipment? 
    • Supervisors on Site: Is the company large enough to provide full time supervision, or will the crew be dropped off at your home to do the work? 
    • References: Make sure references are not hand-picked. 
    • Warranties: Warranties are only as good as the company that offers them. A reputable company who has been in business for at least 25 years should be your best bet. 
    • Insurance: Ask for current insurance certificates. 

    What does an inspection involve? 

    • A thorough evaluation of the home’s interior and exterior. This includes looking for sources of water such as cracks or even plumbing sources. 
    • Discussing your goals with a repair project. 
    • A same-day proposal of recommended repair solutions. 
    • Customized solutions uniquely designed to meet your repair needs. 
    • Discussing payment and financing options. 

    What do we use to fix your basement? 

    • Perimeter drainage systems – The BasementGutter™ system sits in the basement’s sub-floor to catch seeping water from the walls and floor, which is then directed to a sump pump system. 
    • Doorway drainage systems – Grated drainage pipe systems are installed the same way in front of doorways and entryways if you have a walk-out access. These systems are tied into the rest of the BasementGutter™ system. 
    • Sump pumps – We have a variety of sump pump systems to meet your needs -SafeDri™ Pro X Premier Sump Pump System, SafeDri™ Battery Backup System,SafeDri™ TripleSump™ Pump System, and SafeDri™ Pro Crawl Space Sump Pump System. 
    • Waterproof wall and floor products – The CrawlSeal™ liner typically is used for crawl space encapsulations, but it has other practical uses. This thick, durable liner also can be used on basement walls and floors to help with waterproofing and improving the appearance of the area. The LumaBright Finished Wall Restoration System also works the same way to give your basement a more finished look. 
    • Wall crack repairs – We can repair and seal leaking wall cracks to prevent water intrusion. Our foundation repair solutions may be needed for significant cracks and wall movement. 
    • Frozen discharge line prevention – The FreezeGuard™ can be attached to the exterior sump pump drainage line to prevent flooding if the line freezes or becomes blocked. 
    • Exterior drainage upgrades – We can install thicker, more reliable pipes for exterior drainage lines. These lines can be directed to drain to the street, or far away from the property. The ends of these buried lines also can be concealed in a yard by Yardwell™ outlets. 
    • Dehumidifiers – Our powerful, yet energy-efficient dehumidifiers will clean and filter the air, control moisture and humidity, and reduce odors and the potential for mold growth. They not only improve the air quality in the basement, but throughout the entire home. 
    • Egress windows – According to International Residential Code, you must have an emergency exit or means of egress if you use an area like your basement as living space. Our egress window systems are safe, durable and compliant. 

    Why are these solutions the best? 

    Our patented, top-quality solutions are tested and proven to work to keep water out of your home for a safer living environment.  

    Cheaper, quick fixes like paints and wall coatings are only temporary bandages that will not address or tackle the root of the problem. Yes, you can apply a special sealant to your walls and floor, but it will pop and flake indicating a lingering moisture problem. Water also follows the path of least resistance. If it cannot enter through one location, it will find another way in. 

    So, don’t waste your time and money on fast fixes. You need our quality permanent solutions. We use reliable, custom equipment and state-of-the-art technology to install these various systems. 

    How do these solutions work? 

    While we can’t control the weather or the soil outside your home, we can control what’s inside your house. That’s why the best waterproofing system involves interior drainage. 

    Our waterproofing system has three parts. To fix the issue with leaking or standing water, we need to catch the water, get the water to a sump pump, and send the water away from the home. 

    When we waterproof a basement, we drill “weep holes” into the bottom courses of the block walls (which does not affect their structural integrity) to relieve the pressure and water that may be build up inside. This water is intercepted by the BasementGutter™ system, which then directs the water to one of our trustworthy sump pump systems. The sump pump then pumps the water out of and away from the home through discharge lines. These lines can be directed to drain far away from the house, as well as out to the street. 

    How much will my waterproofing project cost? 

    Every home is unique, and each project calls for different solutions. We can customize solutions specific to your repair needs. Your inspector will take into consideration your repair goals, the severity of damage or problem areas, square footage, and your budget. It’s not just a “one size fits all” fix. So, what works for your neighbor down the street may not necessarily be what your home needs. 

    Contacting us for an expert opinion is your best bet. We will not try to throw Band-Aids on the problems, push you to buy “everything but the kitchen sink,” or offer sub-standard quick fixes. 

    Here are some telltale signs of basement problems that are not mended by a do it yourself fix. You should instead seek reliable advice if you notice: 

    • Any kind of water seepage on basement walls and/or floor 
    • Bulging foundation walls 
    • Failing or inefficient sump pump system 
    • Lack of efficient interior and exterior drainage 

    Along with top-notch solutions installed by a reliable team when you choose to work with us, what you are really paying for is peace of mind and a safer home. 

    Not only will this benefit you during the time you live in the house, but it will have a lasting impact for the future resale of the house. You are investing in the health and wellness of the structure. 

    When having your home inspected for real estate transactions, even partial fixes or temporary bandages could raise a red flag along with water or structural damage. You’ll have to spend more time and money trying to address the issues, so why not make an educated decision and sound investment with us and our trustworthy repair solutions? 

    Sounds good. What’s next? 

    We work with you to schedule your repair project(s) with our expert crews. 

    About our crews:
    • They have undergone background checks and drug testing. 
    • They are highly trained and experienced. 
    • They will treat your home as their own, with the utmost care. 
    • They are focused on providing the best customer service, and they want you to be 100% satisfied at the end of the job. 
    After the job: 
    • Please write a review about your experience with us! This helps our company reputation and benefits other homeowners. 
    • We love referrals! Please tell your friends and family about your experience with us! 
    • We’ll always be here for you. If an issue pops up, we provide service opportunities to fix any problems. We also offer an annual maintenance program to ensure the solutions we installed are properly working to protect your home’s health and safety.