Grand Rapids Basement Waterproofing & Foundation Repair

Structural problems around the home are headache-inducing. Luckily, basement waterproofing and crawl space repair solutions are a lot simpler than one would think.

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Basement and Crawl Space Waterproofing

Like most of Michigan, you don’t have to drive too far from Grand Rapids to find a beautiful lake. However, this means the water table in the city is pretty high. When the zone of saturation is so incredibly close to the surface that the soil surrounding your basement or crawl space is almost always wet. Water vapor from the surrounding soil can very easily pass through the foundation walls and create humidity problems. If there are any significant cracks, water will have no problem passing through either.

Because of all of this, waterproofing your basement or crawl space is an absolute must. Luckily, sump pumps are made for situations like this, in which the soil surrounding a foundation is constantly wet. Sump pumps ensure that the water in your basement and surrounding soil are pumped out and discharged far from the foundation. Vapor barriers are a great way to make sure no water vapor gets through to raise the humidity levels. As for dehumidifiers, they are one of the most useful waterproofing solutions for a city with such a shallow zone of saturation.

FSM crew rolling vapor barrier

Foundation Repair

Are the doors and windows in your home constantly jammed? Have you noticed that the floor has begun to sag in some places? Have you noticed a lot of mold growing in your home? If the answer to any of these questions is a resounding yes, your foundation isn’t working like it should. Foundation damage is, unfortunately, a common problem for many homeowners, especially in northern states like Michigan with a humid continental climate and a lot of rain and snow to go around.

If you’ve noticed the problem signs, you’ll know that living in a house with foundation problems disturbs your day-to-day life. Luckily, we have reached a point in modern construction where even the worst foundation problems can be fixed with reliable, efficient tools in a short amount of time.

Foundation piers permanently stabilize and can potentially lift settling foundations to help bring the house back toward its original position. Helical piers specifically can be installed at an angle that can help straighten bowing walls. If the walls need extra support, wall braces or anchors can straighten foundation walls as well as strengthen them over time. As for the issue with sagging floors, crawl space supports are used to reinforce crawl space beams and make sure they hold up your flooring adequately.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

About Waterproofing, Crawl Spaces, and Foundation Repair in Grand Rapids

For many aspects of home repair, if something is broken, it needs to be thrown away and replaced. This is not the case for homes suffering from foundation problems, although it may be extremely tempting. Homeowners see the bowing foundation walls, the deep cracks, the tilting, and the leaking problems and believe that everything needs to be replaced for things to go back to normal. The truth is, replacing your foundation does not address the reason for the damage in the first place: the soil. By replacing the damaged parts without solving the actual problem, you are setting yourself up for future foundation damage issues.

Foundation replacement is a time-consuming, expensive, invasive procedure that involves jacking up your home so all the soil can be removed, and the walls replaced. A few years after foundation replacement, homeowners find that their foundation is damaged once more. This is because the walls may have been replaced, but the problematic soil remains. Unfortunately, the soil itself cannot be replaced, because despite all its issues, it’s the best foundation material a house can get. The most effective way of dealing with foundation problems would be to straighten out the walls and add a new support system that’s strong enough to stabilize the house without disturbing the soil.

Wall braces or anchors are the best way to do this because they provide permanent support regardless of the state of the soil. Additionally, pier systems rely on load-bearing soil that lies far below the frost line to support the house, so no matter how much the soil shrinks and expands, the piers will not be affected.

Have you ever wondered how air flows throughout your home? Airflow is something that controls what you breathe, how high your energy bills are, and your home’s temperature during extreme weather. Grand Rapids experiences heat waves during a typical summer, so understanding the stack effect is especially important if you want to keep yourself cool during the warmer months of the year. Homeowners with foundations that are not closed off or properly insulated are affected the most by the stack effect because the bottom portion of your home is where it all begins when it comes to airflow throughout your home.

Warm air is a lot lighter than cool air and humid air is a lot lighter than dry air. Because heat is always trying to transfer to where it’s cooler, hot air from the outside gets into your uncovered foundation. It then begins to rise through your living space, effectively warming your house. This is known as the stack effect, and it makes you leave your AC running longer than it needs to. The stack effect is the reason many homeowners have high energy bills without even realizing why.

Alternatively, the stack effect also affects you during the winter. The warm air looks to escape to colder parts, and if your foundation has an opening, all the warmth will leave through said opening. In trying to stay warm, you’ll run your HVAC for longer than you would need to. The only way to stop this problem is to insulate and encapsulate your crawl space to make sure the airflow is controlled and stable.

Unlike other parts of foundation repair, the kind of pier system you use for foundation repair might not be up to you. Regardless of how much you like one particular system, it may not be the most appropriate for your foundation problem. This is because there are multiple elements to a foundation repair job that needs to be considered before deciding which pier system should be used. There’s a lot of talk about helical piers when discussing foundation repair, and while they do have one of the best pier systems out there, they might not suit your home.

Helical piers should be used when the soil surrounding the house is too soft. Other kinds of pier systems are either too big and experience skin fiction in soft soils or they rely on a titanic amount of pressure to even hold the foundation up. Helical piers are also good if your foundation is lighter since this is possible with only helical piers, which can be installed at different angles besides vertically. Overall, helical piers work great for the average-sized home that’s surrounded by soft soil. Because most homes fit that description, there’s a high probability that it’s the pier system you’ll use.

Meanwhile, you might want to consider using other kinds of pier systems if you have an extremely large home. Bigger houses are obviously heavier and need more pressure in order to be supported. The only pier system strong enough to support bigger structures would be push piers. If your property is also covered in sedimentary rock, push piers are preferred. Push piers still function properly and have no problem being installed even when the soil is tough and dense.

Insulation is an extremely important part of temperature control for your home. Insulation is what prevents all the hot air in your crawl space or basement from escaping. It’s important that you keep the air around your foundation warm so that it protects the surrounding soil from the freeze-thaw effect during the winter. There are two types of insulation materials you can choose from: absorbent insulation and reflective insulation. Reflective insulation tends to be a bit pricier than absorbent insulation, but if you read the following, you’ll understand why.

Absorbent insulation, particularly fiberglass, is the most used insulation material in the industry. However, just because it is widely used doesn’t mean that it is the best around. Absorbent insulation is great at absorbing heat, but it is also great at absorbing moisture. It can host mold and fungi just as easily as the concrete and wood in your crawl space or basement, so try to keep that in mind when choosing an insulation type. Unless you want to replace your insulation every few years, you need to choose something a little more durable.

Reflective insulation types are the best for crawl spaces. While fiberglass insulation can be used for the upper portion of the house, basements and crawl spaces are much too humid for this material. Reflective insulation controls airflow and retains heat in a space by reflecting it. Reflective insulation panels not only make sure your foundation is warm, but it also does so without contributing to mold growth and lasts for years to come. Yes, you might be spending a bit more with this type of insulation material, but the investment is worth it, especially during the winter.

Any homeowner that suffers headaches due to flooding basements needs to have a sump pump. They pump out any water that enters the basement and drains it out and away from your home’s foundation. After understanding how important these machines are, you might want one for your own home. However, deciding that you want a sump pump is only the first step. You must next choose if you want an indoor or outdoor sump pump.

For the homeowners in Grand Rapids, an indoor sump pump is the better option. Indoor sump pumps are made to run more often for short amounts of time. This is because they only pump out water when the foundation gets flooded, which isn’t often if you have a properly functioning drainage system. Because Grand Rapids has such a high water table (which justifies a sump pump that needs to run more often), having a drain that controls the amount of water in a foundation is recommended. Indoor sump pumps also require less maintenance and have an overall longer lifespan.

Outdoor sump pumps don’t run very often, but when they do, they do so for very long. This is because outdoor sump pumps focus on collecting and draining rainwater. However, because they are exposed to the elements, outdoor sump pumps have an easier time getting clogged and get damaged more frequently. If you need to find a way to drain the rainwater from your yard, you’re better off regrading your yard than having an outdoor sump pump.

If you have a basement or crawl space with high levels of humidity, there’s a good chance mold will grow on the wood. Even if you don’t see it, it’s possible it’s growing and developing in such a way that, by the time you notice it’s there, the wood will have to be completely replaced. Wood can sometimes be salvaged despite the fungal growth, but this depends on how fast you’re able to kill the fungus. Learning how to identify when your wood is rotting is the best way to save it. There are two things you need to look out for when trying to identify wood rot: direct signs and indirect signs.

Direct signs of wood rot would be those that you can observe when directly examining the wood or the space it inhabits. Even if there are spores or fungal growth anywhere in the crawl space or basement, even when they aren’t directly on the wood itself, you need to do something since mold spreads so easily between different materials. Wood rot can also be very sneaky in the sense that it can grow on the wood without any discoloration. The best way to test the wood for rot would be to use a screwdriver or a pencil. If the wood shows any signs of softness at all, it is rotting.

Indirect signs would be those that you can detect away from the rotting wood, usually in your household. The biggest indicator would be a strange smell wafting from the crawl space or basement. Due to the stack effect, the air in your foundation rises toward your home, meaning that the spores and smell of mold will be noticeable throughout the house. Another good way to test for wood rot would be to simply check the humidity levels in your home. Crawl spaces and basements tend to be a lot more humid than the rest of the house, so if the humidity levels in your home are extreme, it goes double for the humidity in your basement.

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Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Local Office

Foundation Systems of Michigan

5985 Clay Ave SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49548
Phone: (616) 681-5716

Hours of Operation

Monday – Thursday: 7 am – 9 pm
Friday: 7 am – 7 pm
Saturday: 8 am – 2pm