The Right Foundation for a Sale

Spring is here in Wisconsin, and that means more rain and stress on the foundations of your clients’ homes. Nothing can kill a sale faster than to see water damage, especially in or around the foundation of a home. It can take on many forms, like rust or water crystals on walls, damp floors, cracks, or mold. Replacing the sump pump, installing a dehumidifier, and making sure all down spouts are clearing the water far enough away from the house are good starts. However, your client’s problem could be much deeper. That’s why a pre-sale home inspection is your best course.

A Pre-Sale Home Inspection will provide you and your client with the necessary items that must be fixed, in order to facilitate the sale of their home.

One of the key areas I look at is the foundation of a home. Over time, a home’s drain tiles can get clogged or poor landscaping can cause the basement walls to buckle. It is worth the time and investment for your client to know which source is the cause of their trouble and to fix it right away.

As a licensed home inspector, I recommend you seek out a independent foundation expert or qualified engineer (P.E.). They will use proper tools and techniques (i.e. laser alignment for the walls, and if necessary, drill and test for proper drainage) to determine the origin or cause of the problem. Often, it’s a simple fix and one that can save your seller thousands of dollars and prevent future claims

Stop Leaking Profits (part 1)

It’s spring and the rain is here! Don’t allow the final home inspection to turn up problems in the basement.  Be aware of tell tale signs of basement leaks and be able to offer the home owner a few quick, inexpensive fixes

Leaks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

  • Hidden leaks under the soil line can create the stains or wetness during heavy rain or thaw.
  • Cracks, these are often written off as “just the house settling”; but they be a serious leak issue.
  • Dampness, mildew throughout the home.  Moisture is coming in from somewhere.  If not the basement than possibly the roof (part 2)

Basement leakagePotential home owners worry at even the slightest sign of water damage.  If the problems wait until the last inspection repairs may be expensive and hurried. Don’t let leaks steal your profits. Instead offer the home owner a few simple fixes.

Gutters – the number one cause of basement leakage.  Overflow cascades water over the sides and down right near the foundation.

In the same way water streaming through the gutter must come out – just not near the house! Either of these issues can cause leakage.

The fix: Check that the gutters have at least one downspout for every 600 – 800 square feet of roof surface.  Keep gutters clean of leaves and other debris.  Every downspouts needs to extended least 4 – 6 feet out from the foundation.  (Add ons can extend the gutter as far as the home owner wishes.  Just don’t bury the plastic kind they will easily squash.) Also, make sure gutter cleaning is part of your regular home maintenance each season. If you have a single story house, you may choose to do it yourself. Or for a larger home you may consider a gutter cleaning Indianapolis company to assist.

Soil Grade – Especially older home have a lowered soil line by the foundation. This allows water to run down against the basement walls and eventually find its way through, either in seepage or by creating cracks.  Water drainage from walks, driveways and patios sloping to the foundation can also find it’s way in.

The fix: Soil should slope downward away from the foundation. Build it up at least 6 inches high. This should extend about 4 feet from the foundation wall. From here the homeowner can choose to slant the soil grade downward as desired.  Use Brown or Mixed Soil, consisting of 20-30%, non organic clay and top-soil, does not blow away, and has plastic qualities to deflect the surface water away from the foundation but allows any plants to grow.

Landscaping – Check any structure that is up against the house. Planters, small sheds or other structural additions might allow water to seep in between, then into the basement.  Also look for bushes and trees   may be allowing water to get near the foundation or be breaking through with roots.

The fix: cut down the old and replace with new growth or sod.

In older homes from 1920’s to mid-1950’s, If the Palmer Valve is not working then the drain tile has nowhere to drain, like a burned out sump-pump. The water sits in the drain tile and under the floor. Having water leaking in the basement is not the first sign of a drain tile issues, any more than when there is a roof leak, as it may have taken years of no maintenance to come to this condition. All the basement wants to do is fill with water, try not to assist this process is prudent.

For wet basements, consider a drain tile test following the WAFRP Standards of Practice with 3-4 test locations.Contractors will perform the test for between $250 to $1100.00,

There is Mr. Chuck Weber Basement Independent Consultant who performs the test in the middle of that fee range, Chuck Weber 414-536-1300. Also for independent basement evaluations try, Mike Shadid  414-379-1265 30 years in basements, does not test the drain tile, but can determine if  a test is warranted.

Any good appraiser will question a wet or stained basement, and may hold up the loan process. A good recommendation is to Never freshly paint the basement walls or floor, as it “Covers” a history of events the inspector is looking to glean information from.

Wet Basements

The Constant Problem of Wet Basements

Water can be sneaky, especially when it comes to basements. You walk down to your basement and see evidence of moisture: condensation on the walls, peeling paint, tiles lifting off the floor or a white hued deposit on the walls that’s called efflorescence.

Negative Grading of soil

All basements simply want to fill with water. Our common clay soil is like plastic and holds and expands when water is present. It can swell like a dry sponge and crack and crush walls with ease.

You cannot easily find the leak. So what are you supposed to do? The problem has to be dealt with before the leak goes from a nuisance to a major problem that requires expensive cleanup or repairs.

First, know that you are not alone. The Des Plaines, Illinois-based American Society of Home Inspectors estimates 60 percent of U.S. homes have wet basements, and 38 percent run the risk of basement mold. All basements want to fill with water because water always seeks the lowest point and often that’s the basement. Read more