basement waterproofing

As a homeowner, seeing a crack in your foundation can certainly be cause for concern. Here in Toronto, the harsh Winters and rainy Springs and Summers can cause havoc on our home’s foundation.  Even if it hasn’t happened to you, many of us have heard horror stories of water damage and shifting foundations that can cost a pretty penny to repair. So, how can you tell if the small crack you discovered signifies a much larger problem? Read on to find out.

What Different Types of Cracks Can Signify

There are several different types of cracks that commonly occur within the foundation of a home, each of which can signify a different problem:

  • Horizontal Cracks – A crack in your wall that extends horizontally, or looks like a stairstep, commonly signifies a problem for homeowners. These cracks leave your foundation susceptible to lateral pressure and with the natural expansion of the ground around your foundation, with moisture, it can actually cause your wall to bow around the crack. A horizontal crack can eventually lead to the entire failure and snapping of the foundation walls if not cared for appropriately. This type of crack cannot be fixed by simply filling it, it will require professional attention to truly repair.

Horizontal crack in Toronto foundation home

  • Vertical Cracks – As concrete and the foundation of your home settle it can cause vertical cracks to occur throughout your foundation. These cracks are quite common and can be easily repaired by filling the crack with filler materials to prevent further spreading.

Toronto home with vertical crack in foundation

  • Diagonal Cracks – A diagonal crack is typically an indication of a fracture that has spread over time, so a simple filling might not fix it permanently. It is a good idea to get these types of cracks stabilized and reinforced by professionals so that further spreading does not occur.ConcreteDiag220DFs (1)

Depending on the types of cracks that you are noticing within your foundation, you can better determine the next step that you need to take to protect your investment.

Even Minor Cracks Need to Be Monitored

Even if you have a vertical crack, you want to be sure that you monitor all cracks regularly. Expansion, bowing of walls and leaks can only cause more damage to your home and cost you more money. A great way to monitor your cracks is to use a pencil to mark the ends of a crack with the date reviewed. A few months later you can return to the crack and see if it has changed or expanded. If you notice an expansion then perhaps it is a good idea to seek professional assistance to ensure that you home is not in danger.

When to Get a Professional Involved

If you notice that a crack in your foundation has seemed to worsen, or you have a horizontal or diagonal crack, then you are going to want to consider bringing in a  professional. A contracting company that specializes in foundation repairs can give you an assessment of whether it’s a minor problem or a more serious matter.  If it’s a very serious problem, a structural engineer will likely be recommended to assess the foundation.

Your home is your sanctuary and an investment that should be protected, don’t let a little foundation crack threaten your home and family.

 

Have questions about cracks in your foundation?  If you live in Toronto or the surrounding GTA, we Nusite Group offers a free in-home inspection and assessment of your foundation cracks.  You can contact us here for more information.

Is water seeping through your concrete foundation?  If left untreated, water can slowly erode your foundation and lead to costly foundation repairs.  Here in Toronto, we respond to several hundred basement waterproofing calls a year.  Some repairs are minor, while others are costly repairs.  Most of the costly foundation repairs we treat could have been prevented, or at least minimized, if proper measures had been taken earlier.

One of the foundation problems we frequently come across is a slowly eroding foundation due to a prolonged period of water penetration.

Nature often has its way with buildings, no matter the constructors’ intentions. Sometimes builders don’t try hard at all. Perhaps they are running short on time or materials. Possibly, they don’t understand the theory behind what they are doing. Property owners end up with the result, long after the construction team is gone.

In this article, we examine the phenomenon of wet concrete foundations. What causes them, why they happen in some places and not in others, what to do about the problem, and so on.

The Inherent Weakness of Concrete

Concrete consists of five essential ingredients:

  • The first is stone chip that adds bulk and strength.
  • The second is the steel bars that prevent the mix from cracking.
  • The others are cement mixed with sand to form a “glue” that holds the thing together when water’s added.

Concrete is porous when it’s dry. When there’s water in the area, it sucks it up like a giant wick.

Where Does the Water Comes From?

Dig a hole that’s deep enough, and it starts to fill with water like a drinking well. That’s because there’s always water somewhere beneath the ground. The only uncertainty is the depth. It could come from rainwater that’s filtered down, from an underground stream, from a leaking water pipe, or from a leach drain.

The same gravity that prevents us from flying off the earth presses down upon the ground, compressing it. This force pressurizes the moisture just like when a child squeezes the trigger on a toy water gun. Scientists call the energy that results hydrostatic pressure. This turns ground water into a mighty powerful thing that can find a way through most materials.

Concrete is a Natural Target

We mentioned earlier that dry concrete acts like a natural wick. As the water pooled on top evaporates, it siphons up more to replace it. This is why vacuuming it away seldom helps. Sometimes the concrete cracks due to poor construction methods, ground movement, or a weak mixture of the “glue”. When this happens, groundwater comes bubbling up through a fissure.

How to Prevent This From Happening

As we said earlier, nature will have its way. If you must build in damp earth, you can try to divert the water by installing French drains, and putting down a moisture barrier before you cast the slab. This is by no means as simple a matter as it may sound. Water is a dynamic thing and incredibly persistent.

What to Do if This Fails

Over time, the water permeating through your concrete floor is going to soften and dilute the glue, eventually causing it to begin to disintegrate. There are two strategies to counter this.

  • The preferred one is to install French drains that lead the groundwater elsewhere.
  • Second prize is to try to stop the siphon process by applying a waterproofing medium on top.

More often than not, you need a combination of the two to achieve success.

If you live in Toronto and the surrounding GTA, and would like a free on-site inspection and estimate, contact us here today.  If you are outside of the GTA, feel free to send in your questions, we are happy to help!

 

 

Sump Pums Toronto

If you have a basement that tends to be on the wet side chances are you have a sump pump to help keep the water out as well as mold and mildew from starting to grow. Your sump pump isn’t something that you think about on a daily basis; it’s something you know is there and you expect it to start working when it is needed to keep your basement dry and protected.

Unfortunately, like every other system in your home, your sump pump will need maintenance and eventually will need to be replaced. You will want to know the signs that your sump pump may be ready to fail so you aren’t caught off guard with a flooded basement.

Here in Toronto, between the weather and the fact that we site on a high water table, water entering the basement is a part of life for many of us.  And for many, the only thing keeping the basement from becoming a wet and moldy room is the sump pump.

We highly recommend having a backup sump pump system installed, just imagine being on vacation when your sump pump decides to quit on you, but you should also be aware of signs that your sump pump may be ready to fail on you.

Sump Pump Installation Drwaing of Toronto Home

 

Signs Your Sump Pump May Be Ready to Fail

Cycling on and off – When you hear your sump pump constantly kicking on and off, this is a good sign that your sump pump either needs maintenance or to be replaced. This can be an indicator that your sump pump basin is too small for the amount of water that it is holding. The faster the water fills up the more frequently your sump pump needs to run. If your pump is turning on and off constantly to try to keep up with the water depth you might experience the motor burning out prematurely, which results in your purchasing a new sump pump.

 

Long run time – When your sump pump kicks on and stays running for longer than normal it is an indicator of a few possibilities: your pump is having to work too hard based either on the amount of water or the distance that it is required to move the water. Either way, you are going to want to make some changes. A motor that is having to work too hard can result in a failed sump pump and possibly a flooded basement.

 Toronto Sump Pump Installation

Making a lot of noise – Your sump pump should make a low hum sound, anything more than this is a warning sign of a problem. If your sump pump is loud or making grinding or clanking noises, there is a problem that needs to be addressed. A noisy sump pump can mean a broken bearing or jammed impeller (that’s the fan that is used to suck the water up into the pump), both of these mean you are on your way to a new sump pump.

 

Not turning on when needed – This is one of the easier symptoms to diagnose. If your sump pump is not turning on when needed, you know you have a problem. However, don’t jump right to buying a new sump pump. Your first step if your sump pump isn’t turning on should be to check the float switch. Many times a stuck float switch is the cause of a malfunctioning sump pump. If you check and find this is not the cause of the problem, you need to quickly start considering a new sump pump.

 

Pedal-style pump – These pumps are typically made of plastic and while they were commonly used in the past, do not offer the same quality as newer pumps. Pedal-style pumps are louder and tend to be more unstable then current options. It is best to replace a pedal-style pump and upgrade to a submerged pump. While these were once the go-to pump, we have come a long way over the years and there are more efficient options for your home needs.

 

Damage from a Failed Sump Pump

A failed sump pump can lead to not only a flooded basement, but mold, mildew and damage to your property. The best way to avoid a potential problem is to make sure you are not neglecting your sump pump. Maintain it if needed and don’t brush off those noises and changes that you notice. The best time to replace your sump pump is before the old one quits working altogether, leaving you in a bind.

 

If you think that you might be in need of a new sump pump, or have questions about your existing pump, give Nusite Waterproofing a call or contact us here. As a Toronto-based, locally owned business with over 50 years of combined experience, Nusite Waterproofing can help you with all your weatherproofing needs.

Why Water Leaks In Toronto Basement

Moisture in the basement can be a real pain. At the very least, it can result in mold-related problems. At the worst, it can ruin the contents of your basement, including the carpets and any fabrics on your walls or ceiling and lead to long-term foundation damage.  In between these outcomes are issues like health considerations, and your basement becoming downright uninhabitable. Most homes in Toronto do not have basements meant for living space, though many people use them this way due to rising real estate prices and land scarcity.

The solution is knowing what to look for when it comes to water leaks, and what to do about it when you find it.

Plumbing Problems

Water heaters and washing machines bring water down into the basement. This is fine, until they – or the pipes themselves – spring leaks. This often happens when they start pumping after a dormant period during which something may have settled. Make a habit of checking the floor for water regularly, and, if you find it, to discover where it’s coming from.  If pipes are hidden behind drywall, look for signs of water damage and check the base of the wall to look for wet or crmbling drywall.

water leaking through basement walll

Water Leaking Through Basement Wall

Natural Water Intrusion

The rest of your basement water problems will likely come from intrusion of natural water from outside the basement space itself – unless it is dripping through the ceiling slab from the house above. Think logically about where it could be coming from.

  • Hairline Plaster Cracks may admit moisture that has penetrated through the bricks against the excavation, and generally show as a little water running down and marking the wall. This is usually the only source of natural water that you can stop effectively by scraping out the gaps, and backfilling with a proprietary waterproofing sealer.  If the leak is very small and not expanding, this method may work.  If it is a progressive water leak and causing ongoing foundation erosion, then the source of the water leak will need to be addressed or else you may face foundation issues later on the down the line along with a more expensive waterproofing solution.

 

  • The joint between the walls and floor is an obvious space to start looking, because builders construct them in two phases, and a tiny crack can develop between them as the building settles. The only workable solution is to chop up the edge of the floor, construct a french drain to lead the water to a sump pump, and cover neatly over again.  This type of interior waterproofing (actually water management) is called a weeping tile system.  Interior waterproofing solutions are good options when exterior waterproofing is not an option due to accessibility, foundation concerns and cost.

 

  • Water swelling through the floor slab manifests itself in the form of damp spots or worse puddles. Again, the only solution is to lay a line to lead it to a pump (weeping tile system). Usually for type of water leak, general waterproofing procedures won’t work, you’ll have to channel that water away from your basement. Water welling upwards under pressure will eventually find a way through anything, and you will be right back to square one again.  A good water management strategy is essential if you hope to use your basement for living space or at the very least, avoid mold issues.

 

  • Outside doors and ground-level hatches present a raft of different problems, all of which are curable if you do it properly. The only effective way is to raise the door lintel above the ground, or to set the hatchway on a masonry box high enough to keep the water out. Anything else, again, is bound to fail eventually as it will always be fighting water trying to find its way in, better to just get the entry points out of the way of the water.

 

  • Windows set in outside basement walls should be as waterproofed as those in the house itself – and provide equally trouble-free service. Window wells are actually one fo the most common sources of water leaks in a basement, usually due to age and lack of maintenance. If they are leaking, the correct solution is to rip them out and replace them with an energy efficient alternative. Mucking around with silicone seal is usually a waste of time if the window needs repair along with the drainage system built around it.
water leaking through basement floor

Water Leaking Through Basement Floor

Staying Out of Trouble

If we did no maintenance on our houses, then the roofs and walls would eventually start admitting water.  Foundations age, settle and start to compromise over time, and if you have water trying to get in, becomes a problem for the homeowner.  That they do not, is proof that prevention’s better than cure. Do not neglect your basement as half of homeowners do, and put up with potentially harmful water intrusion and health concerns.  Inspect it regularly.

Nusite Waterproofing has been serving Toronto and the surrounding GTA for over 30 years.  We are experts in basement waterproofing and foundation repairs.  We offer a free in-home inspection and written estimate and can help you find all of the water entry points in your home.  Contact us today to schedule your free inspection.

Toronto Homes With Clogged Gutters

If you’re like most homeowners, you may be concerned about a leaking basement once the winter sets in and the snow begins to melt next spring.  According to the Toronto Star, Toronto is expected to have a milder winter, which means frequent cycles of freezing and thawing, which usually means basement leaks.

There are several proactive steps you can take during the fall which will help to keep your basement dry and leak-free during the oncoming months. Below are several easy-to-follow tips which could help to keep your basement as dry as possible during the winter and spring.

1- Clean out troughs
It’s important to make sure your eavestroughs (gutters) have been cleaned out before the winter months arrive. If they’re full of leaves and other debris they can easily become clogged. Once this happens, water can leak from them to the ground close to the home’s foundation. Having clean troughs will enable the water to drain properly during rainfalls and thaws.

2- Check basement windows and window wells
Since your basement windows are typically below ground surface it’s a good idea to make sure they’re in fine shape heading into the winter. Take the time to inspect the windows and window wells for broken, cracked or rotting frames as well as cracked caulking and clogged window well drains. Be sure to clear all of the debris out of the window wells so they can drain properly. If there are any faults in the windows and window wells it’s possible that water could leak through them.

3- Check perimeter grading of home
If the area around your home isn’t graded away from the building it could lead to water damage. If the grading slopes towards the home water can easily pool in areas close to the foundation. If you’re grading does slope this way, you may want to do a little landscaping work to make sure the grading slopes away from the structure. In addition, try to keep all sewer grates free from debris and leaves.

4-Ensure sump pumps and basement drains work
A sump pump is made to keep your basement dry in case water leaks into it. However, if it’s not working then there’s not really much point in having one. Check your sump pump to make sure it’s in working order and also have some type of backup power plan in place in case the electricity goes out during a storm. There are several types of sump pumps available which can operate on their own independent power supplies. In addition, make sure all of the drainage systems are unobstructed and working properly.

6- Check basement for moisture
You should always have a good look at your basement to see if there are any signs of moisture or water in it. You can inspect it for damp spots as well as a white, powdery crystalline substance on the wall, which is known as efflorescence and is a sign of a moisture problem. If you find any evidence of a leaking basement, it’s better to be safe than sorry and to contact a professional waterproofing company and schedule a free inspection. You can also install  water monitors which will alert you of a leak and will shut the main water supply off if there’s moisture detected in the basement. These are ideal in case of burst water pipes during the winter.

7-Redirect downspouts
The downspouts of your home should direct the water at  least six feet away from the foundation of your home. If they currently drain into the sewer system, disconnect them and aim them away from the house. Try to keep a distance of at least eight inches between the bottom of a downspout and the finished ground level or consider putting in window wells. Be sure to check for leaks in the downspouts and repair them when needed.

The above fall maintenance tips should help to stop or at least lessen the amount of water getting into your basement.  It is important to be proactive with basement leaks as consistent water in your basement can lead to other issues such as crumbling foundation and even mold.

Nusite Waterproofing has been in business for over 30 years and has an A+ rating with the BBB.  We offer free in-home inspections and estimates throughout the GTA.  Contact us today to learn more.