Knoxville Basement Waterproofing & Foundation Repair
Yearly, the U.S. averages 38 inches of rain, while Knoxville gets 50 inches. This makes it easy for expansive clay soils to destroy your property.
Basement And Crawl Space Waterproofing in Knoxville
Tennessee is ranked fifth in the U.S. states with the most annual precipitation. With this much rain, there’s no doubt that Knoxville homeowners are struggling with flooded basements or crawl spaces. Basement or crawl space leaks are troublesome enough on their own, but the consequences of a water-damaged subspace can become much worse with time. Excessive humidity leads to mold growth, which can weaken both the concrete in the basement as well as the wooden joists and supports in a crawl space. It also attracts pests to your home, so not only will you be dealing with a deteriorating structure, but also an infestation.
What makes basement and crawl space flooding in your Knoxville home possible is poor interior and exterior drainage and a lack of a proper barrier between outside water and the inside of your home. The addition of our specially designed interior drainage system along with one of our sump pump systems will guarantee that any water that gets into your foundation is collected and pumped out of and away from your home. Other waterproofing methods involve applying vapor barriers and insulation and installing a dehumidifier. These measures ensure you never have to worry about a damp basement or crawl space again.
Knoxville Foundation Repair
Knoxville’s soil is primarily made of clay. Because clay soils are so good at retaining water, the soil surrounding your foundation is almost always saturated with water. Hydrostatic pressure puts a heavy weight on your foundation walls and causes them to bow inward and begin to break apart. Your foundation is the most important part of your home’s entire structure; if it begins to fall apart, your house will begin to settle. When a house is settling, a piece of the house begins to break off the rest of the structure.
Depending on the kind of foundation your Knoxville home has—slab, basement, or crawl space—there are multiple foundation repair solutions to choose from. For slab foundations, polyurethane foam can be injected under the slab to lift the foundation back into place. Another option would be to use slab piers, which are driven deep into the ground so that your foundation is supported by load-bearing soil. Helical piers or push piers also can be used to permanently stabilize settling foundations and help lift them back towards their original positions.
As for basements and crawl spaces, wall braces and wall anchors make it so you don’t have to replace your damaged foundation. Not only do these solutions get rid of the problem, but they also strengthen your Knoxville home’s foundation, leaving it healthier than ever.
Concrete Lifting in Knoxville
Expansive soils retain water easily and expand when saturated. However, the more it’s able to expand, the more it shrinks once all the moisture dries up. This constant shrinking and expanding displaces the upper layer of the soil, which is supposed to hold up your concrete. Because there’s now a gap under the concrete, there’s nothing holding up the slab, so it settles. Concrete settling doesn’t just ruin the way your Knoxville property looks, it is also dangerous: Walking on an uneven surface puts you at risk of injury.
If the concrete in around your home in Knoxville is settling, it should be repaired before the slab breaks to the point where it needs to be replaced. Instead of pouring a new slab, you can salvage the one you have with polyurethane foam injections. Small holes are drilled in the concrete and polyurethane foam is injected. The foam lifts the settled slab until it’s leveled.
The foam serves as a barrier between the slab and the soil, so no matter what condition the soil is in, it won’t affect the slab. It’s impossible to completely stop soil expansion and shrinkage, so it would be wise to go with a long-lasting concrete lifting solution that negates the effects of expansive soils. With the amount of rainfall Knoxville gets on a yearly basis, polyurethane foam is the best concrete lifting solution.
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Frequently Asked Questions
About Waterproofing, Crawl Spaces & Foundation Repair in Knoxville
Have you noticed that your home smells particularly humid and musty during the summer? If so, you might need to check the condition of your basement or crawl space. Lack of insulation and open airways make it so that the air from your foundation makes it up towards the upper levels of your home. Warm air is constantly trying to invade cooler spaces, the hot air from the outside makes its way into your foundation. Because warm, damp air is lighter than cold, dry air, whatever air is in your ventilated foundation is the one you breathe throughout your home.
Summers in Knoxville are extremely hot and humid. This is a time in which mold growth is persistent and pests are more likely to make a home out of your damp, warm basement. All the mold, animal droppings, cockroach skins, and stuffy air that exists in your foundation permeates through the airways and occupies the rest of your home. This is why your home is terrorized by bad smells during the summer. What you need to do to stop this problem is close off your crawl space or basement and make sure they’re properly insulated.
Our thick and durable vapor barrier can be applied to basements and to completely encapsulate crawl spaces so water vapor doesn’t raise the humidity levels. Basement insulation should be checked to make sure it is still functional. Some insulation materials are absorbent and cease to work properly after absorbing too much moisture. For complete crawl space insulation, our rigid thermal insulation panels are made of a more reliable, reflective material that keeps the hot air inside and away from your living space.
Although there are five types of foundations that a home can have, in a southern state like Tennessee (where winters can still see below freezing temperatures) slab, crawl space, and basement foundations are the three most common ones. If you have a crawl space or basement, your floors are cold because of poor insulation. In the past, it was believed that crawl spaces and basements needed to be vented in order to air out the bad smells and humidity, so insulation was rarely installed. However, open foundations affect how the air moves through your home and changes the temperature of your floorboards. The average house in Knoxville is 45 years old, so it’s very likely you’re living in a home with either poor or no insulation.
No insulation means that warm air can rise through your home while cold air goes down to your foundation due to the stack effect. Your floor is cold because your foundation is cold. Even if insulation was installed in your home, if the material is damaged, it won’t be able to keep the warm air from escaping. Insulation made from fiberglass is an absorbent material that absorbs heat, but also absorbs moisture. If your foundation isn’t waterproofed and you have fiberglass insulation, chances are, it isn’t doing its job.
You are more likely to have cold floors if you have a slab foundation. With a slab foundation, if the foundation is cold, your floor is cold since there’s nothing between the concrete and the floor. Very few construction companies think about thermal control on slab foundations because all they care about is making sure the foundation is built up to code. This means that you will have to get in contact with experts that are able to install heating systems around your slab foundation to fix your cold floor problem.
The word “hydro” means water and “static” is a synonym for still or steady. The term hydrostatic pressure perfectly illustrates the effects still groundwater has on your foundation and why it is so important to keep an eye out for it.
Hydrostatic pressure is something you might not know you need to watch out for as a homeowner, but once you know about it, you’ll be more vigilant. It’s the kind of problem that many don’t think about until it affects their foundation significantly. Knowing what it is and what it does to your basement walls will allow you to understand why your walls are bowing and what the correct action to take is.
- What It Is
The soil underneath your home isn’t completely dry, even if the topsoil on your lawn is. The ground below is almost always saturated with water, especially in places like Knoxville and Nashville, TN and Huntsville, AL, which have clay soils. Clay soils are able to retain water very well. Other places, like Chattanooga, TN and Mobile, AL, have sandy loam soils, which drain incredibly well, so hydrostatic pressure isn’t a big concern in these areas unless the yard drainage is especially terrible.
When groundwater begins to flow towards your home, it stops once it means resistance in the form of your basement wall. It accumulates against the wall and the weight of the water begins to put pressure on the wall. No matter how tough a concrete wall is, it will begin to bow inwards once that pressure becomes too much. In the simplest terms, hydrostatic pressure is the weight of water against a basement wall.
- What Hydrostatic Pressure Does to Your Foundation
Hydrostatic pressure is a serious threat to your entire home. Even though its effects are mostly seen in the basement, it does affect the structure of the entire house. As the basement wall bends inwards due to the pressure of the accumulated groundwater, it begins to crack. The cracks allow the water to seep through the concrete and infiltrate your basement. Flooding is most common in the wall-floor joint, which is where you’ll see most of the water come from.
Your basement wall is a part of your home’s foundation. The second a foundation begins to have structural problems; the effects will be felt elsewhere. You might notice your floor begin to sink closer to the wall. Any columns that relied on the walls to support the ground floor will begin to fail, which means that the walls above will also experience issues with cracking, bending, and breaking.
With basements and crawl spaces, there are many waterproofing methods that can be implemented to not only repair these spaces, but also future proof them from the effects of soil expansion. Waterproofing basements and crawl spaces involves installing new insulation material (if needed), encapsulating them with a vapor barrier, and installing an interior drainage and a sump pump, as well as a dehumidifier. However, all of this is possible when there’s space between the ground and the first floor of a house. The only thing separating the ground from the first floor of a house with a slab foundation is the flat, concrete slab itself, so no drainage system installations are possible. So, what kind of waterproofing methods exist for existing slab foundations?
Unfortunately, existing slab foundations cannot be waterproofed. Your home’s ductwork and pipes can be found under your slab, so any kind of tampering with the foundation can damage your HVACs ductwork and the drainage system around your home. If you’re building a new foundation, drainage tiles and pipes can be installed, though it makes installation of electrical systems and air vents a lot more difficult, so many construction crews don’t like to do it. Other water drainage systems that exist for slab foundations can only be installed from the outside. Drainage tiles and pipes are typically installed as the foundation is being built because installing them on an existing foundation would mean disrupting the foundation and risking slab settling.
Prevention is your best bet when it comes to slab waterproofing. This means making sure water drains away from your foundation as much as possible. If your slab foundation has gotten to a point where it’s cracked or settling, there are multiple repair methods that can be used depending on the condition of your foundation. Slab piers are driven deep into the ground so your foundation is lifted and supported by strong, load-bearing soil. A special polyurethane foam can also be used to lift the slab foundation so you no longer have to live in a home with a sinking floor.
Soil erosion is the cause of most settling problems. It’s defined as the displacement of the top layer of soil, which can occur for several reasons. All homes are built upon soil that is compacted to form a dense foundation that is stable enough to support the structure. However, if the topsoil is disturbed, not only will it be unable to support the concrete, it will also allow more water to filter through, leading to foundation problems. To protect your home’s structure, you need to mitigate the damage caused by soil erosion, since it’s impossible to fully prevent it.
Soil erosion is inevitable and can be triggered by things way out of our control, mostly things to do with nature. For example, due to its proximity to the New Madrid seismic zone, western Tennessee is more prone to earthquakes than eastern Tennessee. However, this doesn’t mean that the effects of the earth tremors don’t affect the soil in eastern cities like Knoxville. Heavy rainfall also encourages soil erosion since each drop of water creates a small crater in the soil. Given Knoxville’s humid subtropical climate, it’s difficult to stop splash erosion.
Because this is such an unavoidable problem, the best thing you can do as a homeowner is prepare your foundation and take certain prevention methods. Waterproofing your foundation raises the value of your home, saves you the trouble of a flooded basement, and discourages foundation settling. Your yard should also have the proper drainage installations to avoid water erosion as much as possible. You can contact a landscaping expert to inspect the yard, determine its grade, and re-grade if needed so the topsoil doesn’t wash away every time it rains. Consider increasing the vegetation around your yard as well, since this can act as cover from wind and rainfall.
Concrete steps are oftentimes an overlooked part of a household, even though they are pretty important. When structurally sound, they provide secure access to certain parts of the house. However, when something is wrong, they are no longer safe to use and become a safety risk. If your concrete steps seem lopsided and wobble every time you use them, they are most likely settling. In order to ensure safe passage through your home, you need to get them repaired, which can be done easily by your local experts.
It’s important that you contact professionals when wanting to fix concrete steps. Almost all the DIY fixes you’ll find online for concrete settling focus on visually repairing the concrete without addressing what caused it to settle in the first place. Concrete steps settle due to soil expansion and shrinkage. If your soil has eroded to the point it cannot hold up the concrete, patching up cracks on the steps or leveling them by applying cement won’t actually fix the settling. The only way to truly fix the issue is to use polyurethane injections to lift the steps.
At AFS, we drill small holes in the concrete and inject a polyurethane foam that lifts settled concrete. It’s the easiest, most efficient way to lift concrete, and because the polyurethane foam creates a barrier between the concrete and the soil, the soil conditions never affect the concrete again. The holes drilled to do the job are small, so your steps end up looking untampered with when the job is finished. The foam is firm, but light enough that it doesn’t place pressure on the soil, unlike the cement slurry used in mudjacking. Polyurethane injections require special materials, knowledge, and equipment, so contacting your local experts is the best thing you can do to repair your steps.
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AFS Foundation & Waterproofing
3028 E Governor John Sevier Highway
Knoxville, TN 37914
Phone: (865) 290-1305
Phone: (865) 290-1306