Author Archives: Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry

Preventing Frozen Pipes in VA

Problems with Frozen Pipes during VA Winters

water shut-off valve, frozen pipes, water leaks Richmond

Did you have a problem with frozen pipes or broken pipes last winter? Each winter, thousands of homeowners in Virginia lose water service due to frozen and broken pipes and water meters. It’s not too soon to start thinking about how to prevent problems this winter.

Repairing and replacing frozen pipes and water-damaged walls, floors, and items on the floors can be expensive and time-consuming. The homeowner has a further expense by being responsible for paying for water that leaks from a broken pipe. It can cost more than $100 to replace a broken water meter. The following article explains ways of preventing frozen pipes in VA and what to do when a pipe does become frozen.

What can I do now to prevent pipes and meters from freezing?

There are several things you should do before the weather gets below freezing again:

  • Find the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or breaks, you’ll know where to shut it off immediately.
  • Identify which areas of your home are most vulnerable to frozen pipes, including basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms, and outside walls.
  • Insulate your pipes and water meter. By wrapping exposed pipes with insulation or electrical heating wires, you will protect your pipes from freezing. If you do it yourself, make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid a fire hazard.
  • Eliminate sources of cold air sources near water pipes by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, sealing crawl spaces and preventing drafts near doors. Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry offers services in both crawl space sealing and foundation repair to avoid problems with freezing.
  • Disconnect hoses from outside faucets and, if possible, shut off outside water valves.
  • For outside meters, make sure the lid to the meter is closed tightly. If snow falls on top of it, don’t worry because snow acts as a good insulator.

What should I do when it gets below freezing?

When the outside temperature is consistently below freezing, there are a few precautions that you can take to prevent water pipes from breaking.

  • At night, when it is coldest, turn on a small trickle of water from both your cold and hot water faucets. The cost of the extra water is minimal compared to the cost of repairing a broken pipe. If you don’t want to waste water, collect it in a bowl for feeding pets or watering plants.
  • Leave open cabinet doors, even just a crack, to expose pipes to the warmer air in the room.

What if I’m going to be gone for more than a few days?

If you plan to leave your home for more than a few days, it is wise to take a few extra precautions.

  • Don’t turn your thermostat down below 50 degrees. It is important to keep a minimal level of heat inside the house.
  • Ask a neighbor, friend, or relative to check your home occasionally to make sure the heat is working and pipes aren’t frozen.
  • Consider purchasing a freeze alarm, which costs less than $100. It will call any specified number if the indoor temperature drops below 45 degrees.

What should I do if my pipes do freeze?

If you do have the misfortune of a frozen pipe, there are certain steps you should take first.

  • Turn your water off immediately at the shut-off valve. Freezing may have caused the pipes to crack, and thawing them without turning off the water may cause them to leak through undetected cracks.
  • Apply heat to the frozen pipe by either warming the air around it by raising the room temperature or using a space heater. You can also apply heat directly to the pipe with a hairdryer or hot water. For safety purposes, keep an eye on space heaters and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.
  • When the pipes are thawed, turn on the water gradually and check for any cracks or leaks.
  • If you do have a cracked or broken pipe, your only choice is to a plumber to repair it before you turn the water back on.

These simple measures can assure that you won’t have a problem with frozen pipes or water meters next year. Contact us if you have further questions about how to insulate your crawl space and repair problems with your masonry or foundation wall to avoid frozen pipes.

Protect Your Home This Winter

winterizing your homeIt seems like taking care of your home is a never-ending process, but you must have your home ready for the winter months. We just reached fall, but winter will soon be coming around the corner. Winter can be long with harsh temperatures, big snowfalls, and other miserable weather and it’s time to get to winterizing.

Winterizing: Take Care of the Outside

While the weather is still relatively nice, make sure the outside of your home is ready for Old Man Winter. This is a good time to clear your gutters and downspouts of leaves, frisbees, and other things that may clog them. If your gutters are clogged, melting snow won’t properly drain and could run down alongside your foundation walls. This can cause damage to the foundation, in addition to potential flooding of your basement or crawl space.

Clear leaves and debris from around the outside walls of your home. These leaves can trap water and snow against your foundation, which can lead to cracks or worse. If you have outdoor faucets, make sure that hoses are removed and that either the water is shut off to the faucet or you have a frost-proof spigot. If an outdoor faucet freezes, the split can occur inside your home, flooding your basement or wherever the pipe breaks.

Once you have the outside ready for the winter chill, you can concentrate on the inside of your home.

Winterizing: Take Care of the Inside

Your home is probably nice and cozy in the winter, but there are things you can do to make it better and to protect your home from foundation damage.

Make sure that your pipes won’t freeze. We mentioned above about protecting your pipes attached to outdoor faucets, but your indoor pipes can freeze and burst, also. If pipes are on an outside wall, make sure they are wrapped to keep them insulated. If they are inside cabinets or closets, open the doors during severe cold blasts. A broken pipe is never fun, but dealing with it during below-freezing temperatures is no picnic.

Your home is your castle, but it doesn’t need to feel like a drafty, medieval home. Caulk around windows and apply weatherstripping around doors and windows. Also, make sure that cold air isn’t coming through electrical outlets. There are a variety of DIY products that will keep cold air where it belongs.

You can also check with your local power company to see if they can perform an energy saving audit. They will inspect your home and give you a list of ways that you weatherproof your home and lower your energy bills. They may suggest new insulation, programmable thermostats, new windows or weatherstripping. Spending a little money and time now will save you a lot of money down the road and may protect your home from damage due to cold weather.

House in Winter

Spend a Little, Save a Lot

Foundation repairs can be expensive, so take some time and effort to protect your home now by “winterizing” your house. Freezing water outside of your home in the soil can cause cracks in your foundation walls or can even cause them to bow or lean. Melting snow can enter cracks in your foundation walls. If the water refreezes, it can cause the cracks to expand, causing more problems.

There are many solutions for foundation damage, give the experts at Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry a call and we’ll help you make sure your home is stable and safe all year round.

Mold Prevention: What You Should Know

Everything You Need To Know About Mold Prevention In Your Home

For homeowners in Richmond, Virginia and surrounding areas, it is important to know the signs and causes of mold growth, as well as how to mold prevention tips. When heavy rains and floods come, your basement will be prone to water seepage which in many cases can cause mold to grow. Where moisture is present, mold wants to be. That is why it is vital to keep your home and basement safe, clean, and dry to prevent mold and all of the hazardous issues that come along with it.

Prevent mold and mildew with waterproofing by Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry

There are many ways that water and moisture can enter your home. Most commonly, it is because of poor drainage. If your gutters are clogged, or if you have short downspouts that don’t direct water away from your home, water can pool up around the base of your foundation and leak into your basement. This can especially occur if you have cracks in your foundation walls or if your pipes are leaky.

Another way that your basement can be wet is through high humidity situations. When water evaporates, perhaps from wet clothing that is hanging to dry, it creates a very humid atmosphere. From this humidity, condensation can grow on metal pipes, basement floors, and walls. Since your basement doesn’t see sunlight and isn’t ventilated as well as the rest of your house, the humidity won’t go away by itself. This creates a venue for mold to grow as well.

Mold Prevention In Your Basement

The best way to start mold prevention in your Richmond, Virginia home is to sufficiently waterproof your basement and keep moisture as far away as possible. Some ways you can do this are to invest in a proper drainage system, such as extended downspouts or new gutters. You can also hire a waterproofing company, like Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry, to install various exterior and interior waterproofing systems into your home. Another thing you can do is keep your basement clean and tidy, and invest in a dehumidifier to remove moisture that is in the air.

If your home has experienced water seepage or flooding, it is important to take action immediately to prevent mold from growing. One option is to hire a professional mold removal/prevention company or water damage specialist to clean and protect your home. If you want to do it yourself, it is vital that you clean everything out that has been damaged by flood water. If the damage is serious, items like carpet and dry wall may have to be completely removed and replaced. You should use detergent or another cleaning product to clean your possessions that have been damaged by flood water. Above all, get rid of standing or pooling water as soon as you can, as this can cause toxic black mold to grow.

When inspecting your house for mold growth, check the following areas where mold loves to grow:

  • Wall Cavities
  • Drywall
  • Ceilings
  • Floors
  • Pipes
  • Carpets
  • Insulation
  • Wall Paper
  • Wood frames
  • Furniture
  • Storage Boxes
  • Ducts and Vents

You will usually recognize mold through musty smells and damp spots throughout your home. If you have noticed any signs of mold, or seen visible mold and mildew in your home, you should get it removed as soon as possible. The growth of mold is very dangerous and can cause serious health issues to you and your family.

Don’t hesitate to call Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry today with any questions and concerns you have about mold growth in your basement and home. We are your professional waterproofing company in Richmond, Virginia, and surrounding areas!

How Does Water Damage Brick Mortar?

Mortar between bricks is susceptible to damage from water. Over time, rain or rising damp can erode the mortar. Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry offers repointing expertise to keep your brick facade standing strong.

Wall of bricks with the mortar in need of repointing.
Years of rain or rising damp can erode the mortar between your brickwork.

Bricks are a long-lasting material, but the external-facing mortar between the bricks can be worn down over time. One of the mortar’s biggest foes is water.

Water combined with time is a forceful element. Given centuries, the water of the Colorado River cut a path through rock to form the Grand Canyon. Likewise, rainwater can cut its path through your home’s brickwork.

When rain beats against your brickwork or when raindrops hit the ground or another part of your home and splashes back, the water soaks into your mortar.

Equally, if your home is situated in a damp or soggy area, moisture from the ground can seep up from below.

No matter how moisture gets to your mortar initially, it causes the same damage when it’s there. Mortar is created with a mixture of sand and cement. Excess moisture causes the mortar joints to crack.

Eventually, the cracked mortar may start falling away from your home, which could eventually jeopardize the stability of your house. 

In addition the same water that damaged your mortar can find its way into your house, causing mold and mildew issues, which can lead to health concerns.

The solution is brick repointing. But what does that mean?

What is brick repointing?

Brick repointing is the process of removing damaged mortar joints and replacing the mortar.

The process

  1. Old brick mortar is removed to a depth of equal to or slightly more than the width of the joint.
  1. Depending upon the depth of the joint, one or two passes will be made with the new mortar. (The new mortar is made up to match the existing color of your mortar.) 
  1. The new mortar takes about a day to set up and cure. We take care to ensure the joint profile is rectangular as the new mortar used needs ample chance to bond with the existing masonry.

Brick repointing is a skilled technique and not something a home do-it-yourselfer should attempt.

At Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry, our expert masons have the knowledge and know-how to professionally repoint your brickwork.

Call Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry today for more details.

Garage Foundation Problems

A sunken or settling garage foundation can lead to other problems for your garage or even your home. Changes in the garage slab can show itself in different ways around your garage.

garage foundation repair

Signs of Garage Foundation Issues

There are some things you can look for around your garage that could be signs of foundation problems. Look for gaps around the garage doors. You may notice light coming in through the door in areas you hadn’t seen before. Also, keep an eye out for cracks in the garage floor or garage columns.

These signs could be showing you that there is a problem with a sinking garage floor. You will need to support or raise the slab to keep more damage from occurring to your garage.

Causes of Garage Foundation Problems

Some of the same things that cause problems for home foundations can impact your garage’s. Usually, a settling or sinking garage floor is caused by poorly compacted soil under the slab. When building a garage, the soil beneath the garage and driveway needs to be excavated above the perimeter of the foundation. Unfortunately, the soil below most driveways and garage floors is only leveled, not excavated.

Along with this situation, downspouts and waterproofing systems that don’t drain correctly can erode the soil beneath the slabs. This can lead to sinking and settling.

Garage Foundation Repair

There are a few ways to repair a sinking garage foundation, but the best method we’ve found is through the use of helical piers. A helical pier is a strong metal shaft that is drilled or screwed into the ground, using a hydraulic torque motor. The pier is driven into the ground until it reaches stable soil. Once the pier reaches the strong earth, the foundation is placed onto the pier and raised or leveled as needed.

Helical piers are stable and reliable, providing your foundation the strength it needs for years to come. Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry uses piers made by Earth Contact Products (ECP) the leader in the industry

The Difference Between Interior and Exterior Waterproofing

Aside from the obvious locations, is there any difference between exterior and interior waterproofing?  We’ll discuss the differences between the two solutions and show you how they both can help keep your Richmond area home or business dry and stable.

heavy rain leads to basement leaks

Buildings Should be Dry and Safe

We all know that your home or business is probably the biggest investment you have. Keeping them stable and secure is important not only for the structure but for the people that live or work in them. Making sure you have a reliable form of waterproofing will protect your investment and the people in your life.

The Richmond, VA area can see high rain amounts, large snowfalls, and hurricane-strength storms. All of this water can damage your home and basement. If you think you need some type of waterproofing done for your building, how do you decide if you need interior or exterior waterproofing? There are many options to choose from and the best first step is to find a trustworthy waterproofing contractor.

However, you want to be educated before you begin speaking with a contractor so that you know that you are on the same page with expectations and that they are being honest with you. Knowing the difference between exterior and interior waterproofing and their proper applications is a start.

Interior Waterproofing

If water enters your basement, it must be promptly rerouted outside and away from the building. Interior drainages systems usually consist of a system of drains and pipes that collect the water from leaks or under the foundation. This collected water is sent to a sump pit, a large “bucket” that is installed into the floor of your basement. The pit looks like a large plastic trash can and will store a large amount of water.

A sump pump sits inside the sump pit and pumps the water out of the pit and away from the basement. Sump pumps use a float switch to automatically start when the water reaches a certain level. You can also add a battery backup pump that will run if the power goes out during a storm or other reason.

In addition to the sump pump system, another solution is a vapor barrier. The vapor barrier used by Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry uses a thick vinyl sheeting to encapsulate the basement or crawlspace. This barrier can seal out humidity and moisture from the outside, keeping the area inside dry.

Cracks should be sealed to prevent water from entering the home or business. This can be done with an epoxy or carbon fiber strip. In some cases, property owners may decide to use all methods of interior waterproofing.

Exterior Waterproofing

The best way to keep your basement dry is to keep the water from even entering the home or business. Exterior waterproofing uses solutions that collect the water and move it away from the foundation walls. Clean, properly placed gutters and downspouts are the first lines of defense when it comes to water drainage. If the water easily flows to the downspouts and then drains five to ten feet away from the foundation, that will go a long way to keeping water out of the basement.

Another solution, the waterproof membrane is similar to the vapor barrier. This sheeting is installed around the exterior of the foundation walls. The membrane seals out moisture, preventing the concrete walls from absorbing it or allowing water to enter cracks and other openings. This can involve some excavating but is a very valuable way of preventing water from entering your home or business.

Other tools for exterior waterproofing are drain tiles. A trench is dug around the building and the drain tiles are laid inside, surrounded by gravel, then it is all buried. The tiles collect water before it can reach the foundation and directs it away from the basement walls. This solution, too, involves excavation to be performed.

In most cases, exterior waterproofing will cost more to install than the interior solutions, but it is also more effective. If you can keep the water from even entering your basement, you don’t have to worry about it. Also, foundation walls can weaken from constant contact with water. If you can keep the soil surrounding the walls dry, you can help prevent them from losing their strength and stability. In the long run, the cost of exterior waterproofing is less than the cost of foundation repair, water damage, and health issues caused by wet basements or crawlspaces.

Interior and Exterior Waterproofing Solutions

As you can see, both methods have their pros and cons. You will have to work with and trust your contractor to come up with the best solution for your situation. Every building has its own set of variables that will influence the decision on how to best proceed. An experienced and educated contractor will be able to determine the most effective method.

No matter what solution is implemented, your basement will be drier and more stable than one without any waterproofing. Contact the waterproofing experts for the Richmond, VA area at Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry today for your interior and exterior waterproofing needs.

Yikes! My Basement has Sprung a Leak

damp crawlspaceRain. We’ve seen plenty of it in our area this Spring. We’ve also had lots of calls with the problem listed above. People looking for a basement waterproofing company that can help because every time it rains they notice their basement walls and floors leaking. It’s been a bigger problem this year than other years, and many people wonder if is it a big problem they need to be fixed right away. Let’s talk about the causes of basement leaks and what it can do to your home.

Causes of basement leaks

When the soil around your home’s foundation is oversaturated with water from heavy rain it puts pressure on your foundation walls. This is the biggest cause of leaks. Even a hairline crack can leak. You can experience anything from seepage to running water through cracks caused by hydrostatic pressure (the build-up of that water around your foundation.) If the soil is poorly compacted this can make the problem even bigger as loose soils tend to absorb more water.

basement waterproofing company in Virginia fixes basement leaks

Window Wells are another cause of problems. Window wells can leak at the seams. Sometimes window wells can fill up with rain runoff. This is why it is really important to keep your exterior drainage in good condition and keep gutters free of debris, and your downspouts clear.

How is that water getting in?

Cracks. Cracks in doors, cove joints, the floor, the walls, as well as cracks in mortar joints or masonry foundation walls.

So what can water do to the overall health of your home?

Water can lead to mold, spores, mildew, wood rot, and rust. It can make the air in your home unhealthy leading to asthma problems and other health issues. It can ruin your belongings, making living spaces un-livable. It can lead to major foundation problems if you don’t take care of problems early. Your home is one of the biggest investments you will make. Protect your home and more importantly, your family, with waterproofing solutions made to fit the needs of your home.

Sticking Doors Outside of Summer?

sticking doorsEach summer, you might notice that your doors and windows start to stick a little bit when you open or close then. Sticking doors can be caused by humidity, or they may mean that your door is hung wrong. However, if you notice that your doors have started to stick all year round you might be encountering a different problem. Before sanding off pieces of the door, let’s learn a little bit about what might be happening.

Sticking Doors Are a Sign of Foundation Damage

If you notice that your door not only sticks when it’s humid out but all of the time–it’s time to call a contractor for a free estimate! Foundation damage may be the cause of your sticking doors. How? Well, sometimes settlement occurs or hydrostatic pressure pushes against the walls. While natural settlement happens to almost all homes and is nothing to worry about, some types of settlement can cause big damage to your foundation. If you notice cracked walls, sloping floors, or other problems this may be the culprit. Hydrostatic pressure from water-saturated soil pushing against the foundation might also be a problem for your foundation. Over time, this pressure can cause cracks in the foundation. These cracks can let in water, moisture and mold, and even critters. Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry would be happy to diagnose the problem and get you on your way to doors that don’t stick and a stable home in the process.

Options for Resolving the Foundation Issue

Instead of just sanding down the door or rehanging it, you need to get to the root of the issue. This will usually involve foundation repair. Depending on what the problem is, there are a few methods of foundation repair. Most of the time, we will use underpinning to correct the foundation failure and give your foundation new support and stabilization. A few underpinning options include push piers or helical piers. Both of these piers are driven deep into the soil that is stable and then connected to the home via a steel plate. Once transferred, the weight of the home rests on the piers and gradually returns to a stable and level position. These types of piers are installed on the exterior of the home. They are manufactured by Earth Contact Products, a leader in the industry, and they are made of All-American Made Steel so you can trust they’ll last for years and years to come.

When You Can D.I.Y. Fix the Issue

If you notice that your doors only stick when the humidity is high and not at any other time, you can probably rightfully assume that the wood in your door is expanding or it has fallen slightly off its hinges. In this case, you can attempt a D.I.Y. fix. However, if you want to be sure, why not call Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry for an estimate? We can make sure that you’re not missing a bigger issue with your foundation that could get worse if left alone.

Need Help with Sticking Doors?

Call Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry if you are needing a foundation repair contractor to assist with problems like the one described above. Schedule a free estimate today. Not only will we fix the issue, but we’ll also make sure it lasts for years to come so that you don’t have to worry about an unstable foundation. If you’re unsure about your sticking doors, give us a call today. Contact us for more information on our services and to schedule an estimate.

Damp Crawlspace After Heavy Rain

If you experienced the heavy rain that hit Virginia in the past few days, you might have also noticed that you have musty smells in the home. Perhaps your allergies are acting up. Did you know that it could be a damp, musty crawlspace causing the issue? Much of the air that circulates in your home passes through the crawlspace before going back up through the home. If you’re experiencing this, it might be time to take a closer look at your crawlspace. Let’s explore some of the possible solutions for a damp crawlspace.

crawl space sealed#1: Find the Source of the Problem

One of the first things that we do during an estimate is look for the source of the problem. While DIY “fixes” might temporarily solve the issue, a real fix will address not only the immediate problem of the leak but get to the “why” behind it. For example, if you notice that water is pooling in the crawlspace, there may be an issue with the grading of the land. If we tried to fix the issue without first resolving that problem, we would merely be covering it up. Possible solutions can include foundation repair as these are often the cause of waterproofing problems in the crawlspace.

#2: Vapor Barriers

If your crawlspace is unfinished, we want to get it finished to keep moisture out and get rid of your water problems. A vapor barrier is one great way to finish a crawlspace. This vapor barrier lines your crawl space and provides a clean storage environment while reducing energy costs and protecting it against moisture, mold, radon and unwanted pests. It is 10-mil to 16-mil thick and is puncture resistant, as opposed to ones you can buy at the home improvement big box store which are only 6mil thick and not puncture resistant. It is manufactured using a triple-ply woven high-density polyethylene membrane and has the highest strength to weight ratio and highest tensile strength and tear resistance of any product on the market. Protect your crawlspace from moisture and save yourself money on energy bills as a bonus.

Prevent mold and mildew with waterproofing by Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry#3: Sump Pumps

When you have a finished crawlspace and you’ve exhausted all other options and keep seeing water, it’s time to invest in a sump pump. A sump pump gives you the peace of mind that if water does get into your crawlspace, you’ll still be protected. Water will drain from the crawlspace into the sump pump which will direct it outside and away from the home. A battery backup sump pump is an invaluable investment as well, as you will never have to worry about the power going out and making your sump pump unable to do its job.

Need Help with a Damp Crawlspace?

Call the professionals at Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry. We are happy to come out and give you an estimate for your damp crawlspace. We’ll give you an idea of the problem, our timeline, and an idea of the possible costs involved in the process. Contact us today for more information or to get your estimate scheduled.