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Huntsville Basement Waterproofing & Foundation Repair

As iconic as it may be, red soil is detrimental to the health of your foundation because of the clay content. Add high precipitation, and Huntsville homeowners have trouble.

Basement And Crawl Space Waterproofing in Huntsville

In the past, it was believed that basements and crawl spaces needed to be ventilated in order to air out the humidity. To this day, this is something that many still believe. However, unfinished basements are always humid despite the ventilation. This is because basements are partially underground and surrounded by damp soil. The moisture permeates through the concrete and humidifies the space a lot easier than you would think.

It’s not just water vapor that you should watch out for, though. Basement or crawl space flooding is common in places where it rains a lot, which is the case in a city like Huntsville. Basements were rarely made with waterproofing in mind because what was important was that they were built up to code. As long as they functioned properly as foundations, it didn’t matter if they were later damaged. Now that the effects of water damage are better understood, it’s paramount that you waterproof your home’s sublevel to save the entire structure from settling.

The thought of waterproofing your basement might seem confusing at first—after all, how will you even know what needs to be fixed? Where would you even start? At AFS, we always like to start with a free inspection that gives you all the information you need to begin protecting your Huntsville home. From the moment the problems are determined to the moment they are solved, we’re there every step of the way.

Huntsville Foundation Repair

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of northern Alabama is its red clay soil. Formed from weathered limestone, the soil Huntsville sits on is responsible for producing some of the best cotton in the state. This kind of soil is fine on its own, but the fact that it exists in the third U.S. state with the most annual precipitation spells trouble for homeowners. Clay soils are excellent at retaining water, and when all that saturated soil stays right alongside your foundation walls, structural damage is inevitable. Because of how permeable concrete is, unless your foundation is protected by a waterproof barrier, all that moisture will weaken the walls.

Foundation damage starts small but escalates into a huge problem that affects the way you live your day-to-day life at home. Large wall cracks, jammed doors, sinking floors, and high energy bills all point towards foundation problems that need to be addressed before the whole house falls apart. If you’re unsure about where your foundation stands in terms of damage, contact an expert. AFS offers many repair solutions that not only renews your foundation, but also strengthens it. Whether it’s a slab foundation or a basement, we’ve got you and your Huntsville home covered.

Concrete Lifting in Huntsville

In Huntsville, the expansive soil and the high annual precipitation makes it very easy for concrete to settle. Even though the topsoil is silt loam that drains easily, the subsoil is heavy on clay content, so any kind of swelling and shrinking will cause some amount of settling over time. You can tell when your concrete is settling if it’s sinking on one side and large cracks begin to appear. All concrete has some sort of cracks on them, but insignificant hairline cracks are no indicator of settling. Settling on concrete steps is a little easier to detect early on because any sort of instability can be felt while using the stairs.

Settling concrete slabs can be repaired using polyurethane injections. Polyurethane foam is utilized in a way that makes concrete lifting simple and convenient. The key to successfully lifting concrete is using a material that can properly fill any gaps under the slab without compromising the soil. Without this in mind, the material might actually make things worse and cause the slab to either settle further or break apart. If you want to avoid having to replace your concrete slab or steps, you need to choose polyurethane injections for your concrete lifting needs in Huntsville.

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Frequently Asked Questions

About Waterproofing, Crawl Spaces & Foundation Repair in Huntsville

Knowing what kind of soil you have on the land you live on isn’t just useful for farmers. Because so much of your foundation’s health is dependent on the kind of soil it was built on, this knowledge can help you understand what adjustments you should make in order to protect it. Huntsville is located to the north of Alabama, in a region known as the limestone valleys and uplands. In this part of the state, Dewey and Decatur soils can be found all over the valley. These kinds of soils are well drained with moderate permeability and are limestone residuum.

The topsoil of upland soils are brown in color and consists of silt loam, which means that not a lot of expansion and shrinkage occur here due to how well the soils drain water. The problem comes just a few inches down, where clay films are found in the soil and become more consistent the deeper you go. The red clay subsoils of northern Alabama are what causes so much damage to homeowners’ foundations. In a yard without a proper drainage system, water easily trickles down from the permeable topsoil into the expansive clay subsoil and stays there. Highly saturated foundation soil makes things like hydrostatic pressure a constant threat on your foundation.

Even with waterproofing methods in place, extra measures should be taken to ensure your soil gets exposed to as little water as possible. During the rainiest months from November to March, homeowners should be extra vigilant about gutters, clogged drains, and overworked sump pumps. Driveways and patios should be covered, if possible, and you should consider planting extra vegetation to block rainwater from splash eroding the soil. All of this is important because, while your foundation may be protected, erosion can slowly change the way water flows around your yard. Erosion is something Huntsville homeowners should try to avoid as much as possible, especially with how frequent hailstorms and tornadoes are in the region.

The soil immediately surrounding your foundation is a lot looser than the soil farther away. This is because when your home was built, a bowl-like hole was excavated, and the foundation was built in this space. After the foundation was built, the gaps were backfilled with the soil that was previously removed. The problem with this is that the soil used as backfill is a lot more porous that the densely packed soil the foundation sits on. This porous soil is able to absorb a lot of water, making it a dangerous threat to your foundation.

The clay bowl effect is something many homeowners in Huntsville have to worry about. This problem is incredibly persistent in areas where the soil is primarily made of clay. These soils already have a high expansion capacity, but in a state like Alabama, the soil is capable of getting saturated quite easily. When it rains, not only does the rainwater directly affect the soil, it also raises the water table. Because of the soil, the weather, and the clay bowl effect, foundations in Huntsville are in constant need of repairs.

There’s not much that can be done about the weather, and replacing your foundation soil is costly, invasive, and unnecessary. What you should focus on as a homeowner is making sure that rainwater is able to properly drain away from your property. You can do so by making sure your yard grade is positive and by waterproofing your foundation. It’s all about making the right changes on your property so that water barely comes into contact with the soil on it. Whether it’s a basement, crawl space, or slab foundation, there’s always something you can do to protect it from damaging clay soils.

If you’re looking for the best way to lift your settled concrete slab, look no further than polyurethane injections. This concrete lifting system utilizes polyurethane foam to lift concrete back into place. Small holes are drilled into the concrete in order to inject the polyurethane foam until there’s enough under the slab to lift and support it. This is a modern, innovative approach to concrete lifting that solves every problem associated with traditional methods. What makes this method so great is all about what the material is made with.

Mudjacking, the traditional method of concrete lifting, consists of pumping a cement slurry under the concrete to lift the slab. However, because of how heavy and rough the cement is, it puts pressure on the soil below, increasing the chances of displacement and settling. The cement is also too rough to properly fill the gap under the slab, so some parts remain unsupported after the job is done. Mudjacking is also rather tedious because it can take hours for the work to be completed and you still need to wait hours more for the cement to cure before putting any pressure on the slab. Polyurethane foam eliminates all those inconveniences.

With polyurethane foam injections, not only can you use your slab a few minutes after completion, the job is done faster than with mudjacking. The foam itself is strong, but light, so it doesn’t damage the soil and prevents future soil displacement. Unlike cement, polyurethane foam is waterproof and prevents soil expansion. The equipment used for polyurethane injections is a lot less bulky, so contractors are able to inject the foam in places that are difficult to reach. The ease in which contractors are able to inject the foam makes for a comfortable, non-invasive job that puts you, the homeowner, first.

As a homeowner, knowing how to spot foundation settling is the most important thing you can learn. When a foundation is settling, a chunk of the foundation is literally tearing itself away from the house as it settles against unstable soil. As you can imagine, this has a profound effect on the rest of the home’s structure. Settling can be solved with a variety of foundation repair solutions, but you need to be able to catch the problem before it gets too severe. Many settling problem signs disguise themselves as isolated issues early on, so if you have even one of these problems, contact your local foundation repair company for an inspection.

Jammed doors and windows are a typical sign of settling. Because a part of the house is falling to one side, doors and window frames become warped and are unable to function properly. Another sign of settling is cracks along the walls, though cracks on tile flooring can also occur if you have a slab foundation. An increased amount of basement flooding is another good indicator since a broken foundation means groundwater has better access into your home. Be wary of flooding that occurs in April, Huntsville’s rainiest month, since this indicates your foundation cannot withstand extra soil saturation.

Most foundation problem signs can be found indoors, but sometimes, there are other problem signs that can be found outdoors. If you have a brick exterior, stair-step cracks are a clear sign of settling. Stair-step cracks are those that run across the mortar joints of a brick wall. Advanced settling has occurred when the crack is wider at the top than at the bottom. Outdoor signs of settling can be tough to spot at times, so it’s best to consult a foundation expert at AFS to make sure.

Having a beautiful, healthy tree growing on your property makes your yard look interesting and visually pleasing. However, there’s a good chance that your tree is ruining your foundation and causing those pesky leaks in your basement or crawl space. Many homeowners misunderstand how a tree is able to do so much damage and believe that the tree roots themselves are the issue when it’s actually the soil. Like most problems pertaining to foundation damage, expansive soils are the culprits, not the tree roots. The characteristics of clay soils make it so trees encourage shrink-swell capacities and soil displacement.

Huntsville’s soil is a red clay soil with a silt loam surface. Although the topsoil doesn’t contain as much clay, just a few inches down, the red clay subsoil. This clay subsoil is what causes problems when close to a tree. Clay soils compact together really well, so as the tree roots grow, they push the soil closer together. The tree roots are capable of pushing the soil to the point where it puts pressure on your foundation.

You don’t always have to remove the tree from your yard. Sometimes, you can keep the tree as long as you make certain changes to make sure the roots don’t affect your foundation. It all depends on the kind of tree it is, how close it is to your home, and how well you prevent soil expansion on your property. A proper drainage system, waterproofing methods and a tree root barrier will protect your foundation from most harm. However, you might want to get in contact with an expert for an official inspection in case the tree does need to be removed.

Let’s say your basement is extremely humid, but it doesn’t experience any kind of flooding. Does humidity harm your basement as much as water does? After all, if the only thing wrong with your basement is stuffy, damp air, how much harm can it do? The truth is, humidity is not only harmful for your basement, it’s also indicative of problems that will eventually cause harm. Part of the reason it’s such a significant problem in the first place is because most of its consequences aren’t felt until the damage is severe.

Where there is excessive humidity, there is mold. Mold growth in your basement harms both you and your home’s structure. Because of the stack effect, the air in your basement rises in your home, including any existing fungal spores. Long-term exposure to mold triggers allergies and causes permanent harm to the respiratory system. Humidity also encourages pests to make a nest out of your basement, further increasing the risk of illness.

As for your home’s structure, mold weakens concrete walls and wood. Once weakened, the walls and floors of your foundation crack more easily, allowing for potential leaking issues. Moldy floorboards and floor joists mean sagging floors, which leads to further structural damage. The best thing you can do to lower the humidity levels in your basement is waterproof it. An industrial-grade dehumidifier is necessary for moisture control.

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Huntsville Local Office

AFS Foundation & Waterproofing
2415 Jordan Road
Huntsville, AL 35811

Phone: (256) 344-6717
Phone: (256) 445-9070

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