Properly waterproofing your basement is a great way to protect the biggest investment of your life from water damage and flooding. Depending upon what area of the country you live in, making sure your home’s foundation is protected against water intrusion could be vital for staving off an inevitable emergency. In areas that have a higher than average yearly precipitation, saturated soil can cause significant hydrostatic pressure on your basement’s walls that will eventually cause cracks, leakages or even severe flooding. The process of basement waterproofing uses systems like drains to collect water before it comes in contact with your foundation and move it away from your home.
Footer drains work on a very simple premise, and while the technology used to manufacture them has advanced in recent decades, they have been in use for much of the last century. Footer drains are long pipes installed around the foundation of your home with holes or other ways to allow water to enter them. When the water enters the footer drains, it is lead away from your basement foundation to either a sump pump crock, the main city sewer, or another location best pedestal sumps. Keep in mind, however, that many cities have now made it illegal to have drains dump into their sewer systems, since they have to pay money to chemically treat all water that is processed through their waste water treatment plants.
If your home’s drains are working properly, then rainwater should be piped away from your home before it has a chance to exert hydrostatic pressure on your basement walls. While this should solve many of your basement leaking and flooding problems, there are of course extreme situations in which your footer drains could be overwhelmed with water. In this case, it might be a good idea to have a battery powered sump pump which will turn on and remove excess water during uncommonly rainy periods. Even modern plastic PVC footer drains with high capacity for water removal may not be able to redirect huge amounts of water in a very short period of time.
The concept familiar to builders for much of the last century, although they had less effective materials available to them that were more prone to clogs and breakages. Clay tile was often the material of choice for footer drains in the earlier part of last century, and homes that are still relying on these types of footer drains may find that they are beginning to age to a point that they are now ineffective. Breaks and clogs in antiquated clay tile footer drains often require that the foundation of a home be completely excavated in order to install more modern materials.
If your drains aren’t redirecting enough water away from your home’s foundation, however, it might not necessarily mean that you need to have a complete basement waterproofing job performed. In many cases, your footer drains may still be serviceable, but have become clogged or blocked by dirt, roots or other obstructions over the years. In these cases, simply using a high pressure water jetting system to clear blockages may solve your problems. If you refer to a basement waterproofing company for consultation of how to repair your footer drains, always have them check to see if jetting your existing drains is the most inexpensive option.
Did you know that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer? Following closely behind cigarette smoking, radon is responsible for about 21,000 deaths per year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, it could be lurking, undetectable, in your home right now. The EPA estimates that 1 in every 15 homes has elevated levels of radon. It is found in every area of every state and can even reside in your house but not the house next door.
Radon is a naturally occurring gas caused by the decay of uranium and radium, radioactive earth metals often found in rock and soil, and sometimes in well water. The dangers of radon were discovered in the 1950s in uranium mines, which hold high concentrations of radon, but it wasn’t until the 1980s when an employee at a nuclear power plant set off the radiation contamination alarms on his way into work that it became apparent that it might be a household threat.
Radon is not visible, has no odor, and by the time the effects manifest themselves in a person it is likely that significant lung damage has already occurred. Radon permeates into buildings from the ground. As warm air rises, it creates a vacuum causing continuous intake of the gases it contains. It wafts in through the tiniest of spaces and could seep through small cracks in the foundation, around pipes, sump pumps and drains, and even through walls and floorboards. Radon is a faceless enemy that subtly penetrates and slowly kills.
Detecting radon contamination is easy and could save your family’s lives. Though only some areas require mandatory radon testing when selling a house, it is a good idea to test your home regardless of whether you have just moved in, are planning to sell, or have been living there for years. In addition, it is recommended that a test be done before purchasing a home, and it is becoming common practice to do so.
There are several ways to test for elevated levels of radon in your home. There are two kinds of tests, passive and active, and both are easy enough to do yourself. The first, and quickest, is with a passive test. These are generally short-term and most commonly consist of placing canisters filled with charcoal in the location you’d like to test and leaving them for a period of time (usually from 3-7 days). If radon exists it will cause chemical changes in the item in the canister that, when sent to the laboratory in the pre-paid mailer included with the product, can then be analyzed. However, because radon levels can change from day to day or season to season, the EPA recommends doing two back-to-back short-term tests to maximize your chances of more accurately assessing your situation.