Fixing Your House While Preserving The Artifacts

5 Challenges To Waterproofing Basements And Foundations Built With Concrete Blocks

Pre-cast concrete blocks are strong and versatile, allowing construction crews to quickly build foundations and full basements with less work than is involved with pouring a cast-in-place structure. However, the convenience of these blocks is balanced out by their tendency to develop leaks and let moisture enter the foundation or basement. Discover five complications that interfere with waterproofing concrete blocks to have the best chance at getting a watertight seal after your first attempt.

Cracking Joints

The mortared joints between individual blocks cause the majority of leaks and moisture problems in concrete block structures. While mortar is a durable material, it eventually cracks and crumbles away to create a pathway for water to flow through into the basement or foundation. It’s not all that easy to repair cracks and gaps in these mortar layers because the opening is often hidden deep inside the block rather than on the surface where you can reach it with caulk or mortar. Repairing badly damaged mortar can cost thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars.

Bowing Due to Pressure

Concrete block walls are often just as strong as those poured in place, but all concrete is susceptible to lateral pressure. Concrete may be a very strong material against pressure pushing straight down on it, such as your home’s walls and roof, but it is relatively weak against pressure coming from the side, such as wet soil pushing against foundation walls. Concrete blocks are more likely than poured slabs to bend and bow inward. Bowed walls crack and lose their mortar in the joints, resulting in lots of entry points for water. A bowed wall also loses its strength and can eventually collapse and leave your home sinking into the ground.

Hollow Cores

Almost all of the masonry blocks designed for basement and foundation use are designed with two to three hollow openings in the center of each block. This reduces overall weight without sacrificing much strength, but it can create serious leakage problems at the same. When the top run of hollow blocks is left open by accident or on purpose, vertical channels are created that run to the bottom of the wall. Moist air and even water itself can enter the basement or foundation walls and fill up the space, resulting in slow leaks that don’t appear to correspond to specific rain storms. A leak anywhere further down the wall also allows moisture to build up inside these hollow cores, making it hard to pinpoint exactly where a leak begins.

Absorbent Blocks

Some types of concrete blocks chosen for their aesthetic value are more prone to absorbing water like a sponge and transferring it to the interior of your basement or foundation. Split-faced blocks feature a rough and uneven exterior that mimics natural stone. These blocks are strong enough to use for foundation building with only a single layer, creating a direct path between the extra porous exterior and the interior of your basement. Water travels through the pores quickly to leave your walls wet on a regularly basis without a single crack or damaged joint in sight. These split-faced blocks must be sealed with extra care if they’re to be used safely for foundations and basements.

Window Wells

Finally, the window openings built into concrete block walls often leak more readily than those designed into poured walls. Since the construction crew must work around the sizes of the blocks rather than creating a completely custom opening, it’s harder to flash and seal around the window opening. The drain tiles set into the tops and bottoms of window wells are also particularly prone to blocking up and directing water into the basement or crawlspace instead.

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Mold Removal Tips – How To Make Sure Mold Does Not Spread Throughout Your Home

If you have experienced a flood and were unable to remove the water from your home within a timely manner, then you may notice mold forming inside your home. This mold should be tested by a professional or with a home kit to make sure it is not black mold. You can purchase a test kit at your local home store. Make sure to buy an immediate or five-minute kit so you can see the results right away. If the kit says that your home does not contain a harmful type of mold, then you can remove it on your own. However, you will need to keep mold from spreading throughout your home. Keep reading to learn about a few tips that can help you contain mold during the cleaning process.

Set Up A Barrier

Mold spores are extremely small and range in size from about 10 to 30 microns. For comparison, a grain of sand is between 100 and 2000 microns. This means that the smallest mold spores are about one-tenth of the size of a sand grain. Mold colonies will produce these spores and release them into the air in large amounts. Even an area that has a low concentration of mold spores will contain 6,500 spores per cubic meter. In a home where mold is growing, this number may be as high or higher than 50,000 spores per cubic meter

If there is already a great deal of mold in your home, then you can release thousands of additional spores by trying to clean up the mold. If the spores travel to another damp area of your home, new colonies will form. The best way to reduce this problem is to set up a barrier in your work area that will prevent spores from traveling through your house.

Purchase a large roll of plastic film or barrier material at your local home store. You will want a film that blocks as many spores as possible, and high density polyethylene material is a good choice. Thick sheeting will work well, so look for a product that is at least several mils thick. You will want to secure the film around the entire work area, so measure long lengths of the material and attach it to the walls and ceiling with duct tape. Use the tape to seal the seams as well. To create a door, overlap two plastic sheets. Use a small piece of tape to keep the opening closed and release the tape when you need to enter and exit the space.

Secure A Fan And Create Negative Pressure

You will stir up mold spores as you work, and many of these spores will float through the air before they land on a surface. While your plastic sheeting will collect many of these spores, you will want the mold to leave your home instead of collecting inside of it. A good way to move the mold spores outside is to create a negative pressure atmosphere in your work area by placing an exhaust fan in an open window. You can place a regular window fan in the space or you can purchase a portable exhaust fan. 

If your space is an interior area that does not have a window, then you can still use an exhaust fan. However, you will need to purchase a fan with an extension arm or a long duct. Run the arm or duct through the doorway of the room and out through the closest window. To make sure the fan works properly, use duct tape to attach your plastic sheeting around the exterior of the fan where the fan meets your barrier. 

If you have too much mold to deal with on your own, contact a company like Servpro Of Bear New Castle.

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