Mobile Basement Waterproofing & Foundation Repair
Mobile, the rainiest city in the contiguous U.S., is bound to have some foundation flooding problems. AFS is here to help you identify and fix them!
Basement And Crawl Space Waterproofing in Mobile
Basement or crawl space humidity is often an overlooked part of Mobile, AL, home care because these spaces have a reputation for being damp and smelly. This makes it so that nobody really feels the need to fix leaking issues unless the space is flooding with an enormous amount of water. What homeowners may not realize, however, is that high levels of humidity in basements or crawl spaces is only the first sign of worse things to come. Long-term exposure to humidity damages foundations to the point where things begin to break apart. Once things begin to crack and break, it only becomes easier for water to seep through and make a mess of things.High humidity, small leaks, and big floods in basements or crawl spaces should not be treated as isolated incidents. If these parts of your house aren’t properly waterproofed, you risk letting water damage destroy your home’s foundation. Before that happens, consider contacting your local basement and crawl space experts in Mobile, AL. If you plan on living in your current house for a long time, hiring an expert to waterproof your home will save you numerous headaches and phone calls. Even if you’re planning to sell, waterproofing will raise the property value of your home, so you would be getting your money back anyway.
Mobile Foundation Repair
All foundations experience some sort of damage over the course of time. Whether the house was built on clay soil or loam soil, some form of displacement will occur. Soil needs to be packed densely around a foundation in order to support it, and while construction crews try their best to do so, that soil doesn’t stay in one place forever. In Mobile, soil displacement is quite common because of how much sand the soil has. Loose soil causes settling, which is when part of the structure begins to perch on shifted soil.
Despite the inevitability of foundation problems, AFS has many foundation repair solutions to choose from. The goal with these methods is to have your Mobile, AL, foundation supported, not by the loose topsoil at the surface of the ground, but the dense, load-bearing soils deep below. There’s no better way to deal with foundation problems due to soil displacement than to use these solutions. Any other method focuses on short-term fixes while AFS likes to focus on the future.
Concrete Lifting in Mobile
Concrete settling in Mobile is extremely common because of the soil. Bama, Alabama’s official state soil, is characterized as sandy loam, which drains water well and has little shrink-swell capacities. While it may lose to clay soils in the water retaining department, it does beat clay soils when it comes to erosion. Because of how poorly Bama soil holds together, any consistent flow of water is able to carry away the topsoil. Given how rainy it is in Mobile, you can say that this happens a lot.
If the soil washes away, what’s holding up your concrete slab? Well, the fact that there’s a gap under the concrete is what causes it to settle. To fill this gap, polyurethane foam can be injected until there’s enough under the slab to lift it and support it. Polyurethane foam is waterproof and does not erode away with time, making it a perfect substitute for the soil that was previously under the slab. It’s a fast, simple procedure, but don’t let the ease of its installation fool you: It’s the best long-term solution for settled concrete.
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Frequently Asked Questions
About Waterproofing, Crawl Spaces & Foundation Repair in Mobile
For any homeowner living in Mobile, a sump pump is a crucial must-have. Mobile is the rainiest city in the contiguous U.S., meaning that crawl spaces get flooded here all the time. With all that water entering your crawl space, a sump pump is the only way to ensure you don’t go crazy mopping up water every few weeks. If you don’t have a sump pump already or are looking to replace the one you have, you need to understand what your crawl space needs before you buy.
In a rainy city like Mobile, it’s not enough to have just any kind of sump pump. Sump pumps that get overworked break down very easily, and if your pump is going to turn itself on every time it rains, you need something with power. Something like the AquaStop Compact Crawl Space Sump Pump, which has an optional backup battery in case the pump stops working. It also notifies you when there is a leak in your crawl space, a useful function since many homeowners don’t regularly check the condition of their crawl space.
While doing some research, you might come across exterior sump pumps. They might seem like an attractive option, but these aren’t worth the money. Because they are installed outside, they run more frequently and are exposed to the elements more than an interior sump pump, they are harder to maintain, get clogged a lot easier, and break down a lot faster than reliable, indoor sump pumps.
Mobile’s soil is Alabama’s official state soil, known as Bama. It’s a sandy loam soil made of 60% sand, 10% clay, and 30% silt. Because the clay content in Bama soil is so low, homes in Mobile don’t experience structural damage the same way other cities do. While other parts of the country have to deal with expansive clay soils, Mobile has other soil problems. For example, a tree growing in expansive soil can be dangerous because as the roots grow, they compact the soil and push it towards the foundation walls and place a lot of pressure on them.
Bama soil, on the other hand, does not compact very well because of all the sand. However, trees and other plants can displace the soil in your yard all the same. Because water drains so well from Bama soil, it doesn’t contain a lot of moisture for the trees and plants. Whatever moisture in the soil that exists gets soaked up by the vegetation in your yard, causing it to dry up. Bama soil is incredibly brittle too, so as the tree roots grow, they displace the brittle sandy loam, creating gaps along your foundation soil.
Unlike with clay soils, whose moisture content can be somewhat controlled with a solid yard drainage system, the displacement of sandy loam is difficult to predict and prevent. You might think to try watering your plants more than you usually do, but you risk over-saturating and eroding the soil. Besides simply cutting the tree down, a tree root barrier can be installed so the roots don’t grow past a certain limit and mess up the soil. Knowing what kind of tree you have and how much water it absorbs is just as important as knowing what kind of soil you have. This way, you can landscape your yard in a way that works best for whatever soil and trees you have.
Window wells are small pits made around basement windows that separate the window from the yard. They allow windows to remain dry and separate from saturated soil while still leaving the window uncovered to allow light to pass through. If you have leaky basement windows, a window well is a great way to make sure rainwater or saturated soil doesn’t make its way through the window. However, installing a window well does not mean that your foundation will now remain dry. There’s more to basement leaking than whatever comes from the window.
A window well is only a small part of making sure your basement stays dry. Since basements are partially underground, they are surrounded by soil. Given Mobile’s mild subtropical climate, the humidity, and the various tropical storms every year, it’s safe to say that your basement is up against a lot of saturated soil, at least during the wettest season of the year near the end of summer. Water vapor can easily permeate through the walls and increase the humidity of your basement. It can be a slow process, but the longer it goes on, the worse it gets for your foundation.
We understand the appeal of simple window wells. They are cheap, easy to install, and seem like a non-invasive alteration that works. However, the problem with more complex issues regarding basement leaking is that many of the worse problem signs are invisible. While it is smart to install a window well, don’t stop there. Slowly begin waterproofing your foundation until there’s no doubt that your foundation is dry. If you don’t know where to start, we have multiple waterproofing methods you can choose from to get you started.
As a homeowner, it’s important that you understand the kind of soil that makes up your foundation so you can understand your property better. Soils are made up of silt, sand, and clay and depending on how much of each material it contains, the soil has different properties. Mobile, located in Alabama’s Coastal Plain, boasts a large quantity of the state soil, Bama. This soil is a sandy loam soil that drains really well and has a nice, gritty feel thanks to the sand particles. However, it’s possible that your home sits on top of another kind of soil.
Depending on the kind of home that’s being built, the foundation, the size, and the site master’s preference, your home might have been built on soil that isn’t Bama. Some soils, like clay soils, are easily manipulated and compact better, so even though they retain water, their density makes for a great foundation. Of course, after a certain depth, the soil under your house is Bama, but the topsoil could have been whatever the site master wanted at the time of construction. If you truly wish to know what kind of soil you have, you can contact an expert that can run tests to determine the kind of soil you have, its plasticity, acidity, and more.
With Bama soil, the homeowners of Mobile rarely ever have to worry about hydrostatic pressure because the soil doesn’t retain water like that. Of course, it’s not to say that hydrostatic pressure is impossible in this region, but it is less of a concern. When you understand the challenges your foundation will face due to the soil around it, you can better prepare yourself for whatever problems that may arise.
Damaged wooden joints can cause your floor to sag. Humidity in basements and crawl spaces promotes fungi, which feast off wood, an organic material. This is a common problem in humid places like Mobile, especially during the summer, so it’s important to watch for it during that time of year. But what does wood rot look like and how can you identify it? There are three things you should look out for when inspecting your wood: what the wood looks like, what it feels like, and if it has any spores.
If your wood has brown rot (or dry rot, as it’s sometimes called) the wood should be broken up into small squares. This kind of rot is often mistaken for a termite infestation, but the best way to distinguish it is checking for spores. When the fungus hasn’t fully grown yet, it will stay on the wood as spores (in the form of red dust) until proper growing conditions are met. What’s important to understand about spores is that even if you wipe it off the surface of the wood, it doesn’t mean the wood is cleared of fungi. The third and final thing you should check in wood is how soft it is, since certain decay fungi softens up the wood.
The best way to prevent wood rot is by making sure no amount of moisture is capable of entering your foundation. Vapor barriers, sump pumps, and dehumidifiers are all necessary installations if you want to protect your wood. Certain types of fungi, like brown rot, are able to pull moisture from far away, so you can never be too careful with the number of waterproofing methods you use. While it is true that crawl space joists can assist damaged supports, they don’t stop the existing wood from getting damaged again if you manage to clear the fungi. Instead of dealing with mold growth every summer, you can close that chapter of your foundation’s life by waterproofing the space.
Maintaining a home in proper conditions can be extremely difficult for many homeowners. Just when you think you’ve fixed something, another problem arises that requires a repair job. It’s understandable that, if you’ve discovered that you have foundation issues, you’d want to know what’s the most cost-effective, time-saving way to repair it. If you go around asking multiple companies for repair solutions, you might get quotes for different methods and determine that concrete piers are the least expensive method. However, these inexpensive concrete piers will actually end up costing you a lot more in the long run because of their unreliability and poor design.
When figuring out how to repair a foundation, you should always go with the best option, even if it’s not the cheapest. This is because your foundation is the most important part of your home—after all, it is what holds the entire structure together. Concrete piers are cheap because the materials used are easy to come by and prepare, but they don’t work well because of how easily concrete crumbles under pressure. Due to how weak concrete is, concrete piers need to be made large and wide, which increases skin friction and puts too much pressure on the piers. Concrete piers can also fall victim to the characteristics of soil, so they will eventually present their own problems in due time.
So, which method will save you money in the long run? If you want a solution, you only have to think about it once, go with helical, push, or slab piers. These piers are made of galvanized steel and are driven deep beneath the ground onto load-bearing soil. Instead of loose soil that becomes easily displaced, your foundation will now be supported by the dense soil deep beneath the ground. Unlike concrete piers, strong, steel piers are a permanent solution to an inevitable soil displacement problem.
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AFS Foundation & Waterproofing
5275 Business Pkwy.
Theodore, AL 36582
Phone: (251) 250-1901
Phone: (251) 220-3457