Montgomery Basement Waterproofing & Foundation Repair
Montgomery, located in Alabama’s “Black Belt,” is known for its dark, clay soils. As earthy as they may be, these soils cause a lot of structural problems.
Basement And Crawl Space Waterproofing in Montgomery
A flooded basement is never a good sign. It always indicates that something isn’t functioning like it should. Without a proper drainage system, the basement of your Montgomery home will turn into a sewer-like mess. To keep your basement dry, you need to first determine where the water is coming from and what you need to do about it. Basements can leak for multiple reasons, such as uncovered windows, stairways, faulty pipes, and the foundation soil.
If all the pipes, vents, and machines in your basement are functioning properly and there’s still a serious drainage issue going on, you need to consider waterproofing. Waterproofing a basement or crawl space is something Montgomery homeowners never knew they needed until they tried it. Knowing that the space under your home is clean, dry, and mold-free lifts a huge weight off your shoulders.
Your basement’s health is indicative of your home’s health. If you want to ensure the upper portion of your home is in good condition, you need to take care of the below grade portion first. Waterproofing consists of an interior drainage system and a sump pump, as well as the installation of a dehumidifier. Thermal insulation and a vapor barrier also be installed to further deter water. Montgomery’s climate is very humid, and it doesn’t help that the surrounding soil is mostly clay, so you’ll need all the help you can get to keep the lower levels of your home dry.
Montgomery Foundation Repair
Soil expansion and shrinking is an incredibly slow process. Still, in comparison to other soils, it damages foundations rather quickly. Montgomery’s houses are built on clay soils because they compact well and become dense very easily, and dense soil is necessary if you need something capable of holding up an entire house. Unfortunately, the ability to compact well is the cause of a lot of foundation problems in many homes. Soil compacts in two different ways on a property: through shrinking and with pressure.
When the moisture in soil shrinks, it compacts. It also compacts if a great pressure is placed on it, such as a concrete slab or a large car. Even our day-to-day walking around the driveway puts small amounts of pressure on the soil. This constant displacement of the soil with the pressure, the moisture, the expansion, and the shrinking are what ruins your foundation to the point of settling.
Depending on the damage, you’ll need different solutions to your Montgomery home’s foundation problems. Some of these solutions focus on the walls while others focus on lifting the actual foundation and using something other than soft soil to support it. These specific foundation repair methods are not things you can buy and install yourself, so contact your local foundation repair specialist At AFS to make sure the job is done right.
Concrete Lifting in Montgomery
Montgomery is located in what is known as the “Black Belt,” named after the dark, clay soils that naturally form in the area. Concrete settling occurs because of shrinking clay soils that can no longer support the concrete slab. Montgomery sees a lot of concrete settling due to its soil quality, and it’s very important it’s addressed upon the first sign of settling for various reasons. First, walking on uneven concrete is a safety hazard that should not be ignored. It also makes your driveway or patio look much older and weathered than it probably is.
Another reason you should investigate concrete lifting is because critters might take up residence in the gap between the soil and the concrete. They can easily burrow themselves in there and find a way inside your home from the outside.
If you’re unsure about what can be done for settling concrete throughout Montgomery, look no further than polyurethane injections. A sturdy, lightweight polyurethane foam is injected into the gap under the slab until there’s enough to lift it. The foam hardens after only 15 minutes and the job can be completed in less than a day, depending on its scope. What makes this method so great is that the foam cannot wash away, expand, or shrink, so it faithfully stays in place to hold your slab for years to come.
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Frequently Asked Questions
About Waterproofing, Crawl Spaces & Foundation Repair in Montgomery
Understanding what causes settling and foundation problems in your home can lead to more questions rather than answers. All evidence points to expansive soils being the reasons homes develop structural damage, so what can be done about it? Can replacing the soil with one that drains water better help? What about just replacing the old expansive soil with newer, fresher clay soil? Actually, while most problems can be fixed by tackling the source, foundation damage due to expansive soils is not one of them.
Replacing your soil will not solve the issue because whatever soil you replace the original with will cause problems eventually. Soil erosion and displacement is inevitable no matter what the soil is. Clay soils have a problem with shrinking and expanding while grainy soils have a problem with erosion. Even loam soils, which are considered to be perfectly balanced, will cause problems in the future. Besides, excavating to replace your soil only to backfill it with loose soil does not solve the clay bowl effect.
Replacing your foundation soil is expensive and invasive. You would have to move out of your home while the job is being done. Instead of trying to do something about the soil, the best way to save your home is by repairing the foundation with all the necessary installations. Bowing walls can be stabilized and even straightened with wall anchors if there’s space in the yard and the settling foundation can be lifted with either push or helical piers. Interior drains can also be installed to help with drainage from within the foundation.
Foundation settling occurs no matter what kind of foundation you have. Because most houses are built similarly, regardless of the kind of foundation you have, a lot of the problem signs will overlap. Whether it’s a slab foundation, crawl space, or basement, if your foundation is settling, there will be cracks along the walls. These cracks can often be found either near the floor or near the ceiling. Cracks along door and window frames are also common since wooden frames break easily under any sort of tension.
Uneven floors and increased humidity are other common signs to watch out for. The one difference between slab foundation settling and the rest is how water enters your home. When slab foundations settle, water is able to seep through the cracks easier. Because the house is attached to the slab, any water that comes through the slab from the ground will wind up in your home. With other foundations, the flooding was at least contained to the lower levels of the house.
With slab foundations, however, flooding due to foundation failure is much more destructive, especially when the flooding ruins things of monetary value. Because slab foundations are prone to settling faster than other types of foundations, it’s in your best interest to contact a foundation repair company who knows how to help you. Certain parts of slab foundations can be lifted and repaired using polyurethane foam. For more complicated settling, slab piers are the best support piers for slab foundations.
The three most common types of foundations in Montgomery are slab foundations, crawl spaces, and basements. Other kinds of foundations exist, but they aren’t very common in Alabama. Crawl spaces and basements involve digging deep into the soil in order to create a sub-level from the ground floor. They serve to separate the floor from the soil, especially in places where the temperature can reach below freezing. With slab foundations, on the other hand, what separates the ground floor from the soil is a thick concrete slab and the pipes and ductwork under said slab.
Slab foundations are popular in places where the freeze-thaw effect would not be able to harm foundations. Even though it sometimes snows in Montgomery, it’s not significant enough to require all homes in the city to have sub-levels. Slab foundations are easy to build and inexpensive, but they do have a lot of drawbacks. For starters, foundation settling in slab foundations is a lot more disruptive because of the proximity to the slab. Slab foundations are also difficult to modify or waterproof once they have been built because of all the ductwork under the slab.
Settling in slab foundations is also more likely to happen because the HVAC vents under the slab tend to dry out the soil. By drying out the clay soil, it accelerates soil shrinkage, which in turn, accelerates settling. Traditional waterproofing methods don’t work on slabs because there simply isn’t enough space to install them. There are ways in which you can waterproof foundation slabs, but not all contractors work with those materials. Other than drain tiles, there’s not much you can do except repair the foundation with slab piers once there’s settling.
If your basement is leaking, it can sometimes be pretty easy to spot where it’s coming from. The window, the pipes, and the washing machine are all common sources of basement leaks. If you walk into your basement and see water coming from the floor, however, that might be a bit more confusing. If the pipes and vents are fine, the window is dry, and the machines are working as normal, there should be no water, right? Well, due to Montgomery’s clay soil, the answer is no.
Clay soils are able to retain water really well for long periods of time; it’s actually one of its many defining features. When a lot of water accumulates in the soil surrounding your foundation, it can often pool right alongside your foundation and put a lot of pressure on the wall. This is known as hydrostatic pressure. This refers to the weight of the water that pushes up against the foundation wall until it begins to bow inward. Long-term pressure on the foundation eventually causes cracks along most of the wall, but the most significant damage can be found at the wall-floor joint.
If your basement is flooding and the water is coming from the floor, it’s a clear sign of hydrostatic pressure. Look for other signs of it throughout the house, like uneven walls or floors. Do not let this problem sit for too long, because if you don’t do something about it quickly, you’ll have more than just a bit of flooding to worry about. The foundation is the most important part of the house, so don’t let it fall apart by allowing it to settle. Hydrostatic pressure accelerates foundation settling, which sets off a slew of other structural problems that you will have to pay to fix down the line.
If you’re a handy person and you’ve fixed many things around your home by yourself, you might look at a settled slab and think you’re up for the challenge. However, concrete lifting isn’t a simple repair job—It requires a lot of knowledge and specialized tools to do the job right. The first thing you have to understand is that it’s not a one-man job. Concrete slabs are heavy, and you’ll need assistance in order to lift them enough to fill them with material. Handling heavy concrete is very difficult and dangerous and you can either seriously injure yourself or simply break the concrete and have to replace it anyway.
The second thing you should realize is that you won’t be able to obtain the right materials to do the job properly. Traditionally, contractors use cement to lift concrete slabs. Buying and making a cement mixture is pretty easy, but it’s not the best way to lift concrete slabs. Cement is too heavy and compresses the soil even further, eventually making the settling worse. What you need is polyurethane injections to put an end to the settling.
Polyurethane foam that’s used in concrete lifting is better than mudjacking because polyurethane foam is an inert material that neither places pressure on soil or erodes with water. It cures in 15 minutes and most concrete lifting jobs with the foam can be done in less than a day. AFS contractors are the only ones who can inject this specific foam with the care and expertise your slab requires. As tempting as it may be to try to do it all yourself, you should sit back, relax, and let us do the heavy lifting for you.
The importance of insulation in a home is a pretty easy concept to understand. Insulation keeps the warm air in during the winter and keeps it out during the summer. It makes sense to install some sort of thermal control barrier in a space where people will frequent, but how necessary is it in a crawl space? After all, nobody spends time in crawl spaces. A basement would make more sense, especially one that’s furnished. The truth is, your crawl space plays a very important role in how well your house is insulated and how protected your foundation is from frost related damage.
Due to the stack effect, the warm air that is in your crawl space rises to your living spaces during the summer. During the winter, whatever warm air that’s in your home escapes through this same crawl space. This lack of thermal control makes it so that you run your HVAC for longer than you need to, effectively raising your electricity bill. A properly insulated crawl space will not have any airflow going in or out of it because the material will keep it all trapped in one enclosed spot. Crawl spaces are usually the most humid parts of the house, so make sure you get reflective, rigid thermal insulation panels instead of an absorbent, soft material like fiberglass, lest mold grows on it.
As for protecting your foundation, soil and concrete suffer greatly from the freeze-thaw effect. This is when moisture makes its way through a material, freezes, and then expands. When liquid freezes, it expands by around 9%, and this expansion has the strength to create micro-tears in materials, including your foundation walls. Although winters are short in Montgomery, there are a handful of days where the temperature hits below freezing. A properly insulated crawl space will trap enough heat to make sure that moisture does not freeze within the foundation, preventing freeze-thaw damage.
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AFS Foundation & Waterproofing
130 Interstate Commerce Crt.
Blg 100 & 200
Alabaster, AL 35007
Phone: (334) 209-5411
Phone: (334) 203-4899