The Top 7 Causes of Foundation Settlement in Alabama

foundation settlement causes cracks

Foundation settlement is a fact of life for many Alabama homeowners. Although the loamy soil that covers a large part of our state is generally good for foundation support, no home is one hundred percent immune from foundation settlement. It’s a natural occurrence even for the best designed and built structures.

Here’s why. Loamy soil is usually a mix of clay, silt and sand in proportions that vary depending on where you live. The reason loam is better than average for foundation support is that it tolerates seasonal moisture changes without a lot of differential movement. Civil engineers describe this differential movement as ground action that causes soil to either drop away from your foundation or place added pressure on more sensitive parts of the structure.

7 common signs of foundation settlement

For a variety of reasons we’ll cover in just a bit, even the most stable and weather tolerant soil can gradually erode, recede, shift or sink. When this happens, parts of your foundation can be left unsupported, causing slabs, footings, basements or crawl spaces to sink, buckle or tilt. Foundation settlement can happen gradually or suddenly, depending on the severity of differential movement, but in either case, it presents similar telltale signs:

  1. Doors and windows that used to move freely start to stick.
  2. Mineral blooms or deposits begin to appear on basement or crawlspace surfaces.
  3. Floors that were once level start to sag or give you a “downhill” feeling.
  4. New cracks appear in ceilings or drywall, especially where surfaces meet.
  5. Exterior masonry begins to show stairstep or zigzag cracks that get bigger over time.
  6. Exterior slabs or walkways start to crack, sag or separate.
  7. Basement or crawlspace walls begin to buckle or appear out of plumb.

If you notice one or more of these 7 common signs of foundation settlement, don’t be in a rush to assume the worst, but don’t ignore them either. Some settlement is a normal occurrence in just about every residential property, and may only cause light cosmetic damage that’s inexpensive to repair. A reputable inspector will give you the straight story on what you can take care of yourself and what needs professional attention. What you want to watch out for and take quick action on are persistent foundation settlement issues.

7 contributing factors that can lead to foundation settlement problems

Left to themselves, even minor settlement problems are likely to get worse over time. If you’re handy and like home improvement projects, you can correct some issues as a DIY enthusiast.

Here are 7 foundation settlement causes to watch out for:

  1. Excess water pooling around the outside of your home.
  2. Moisture accumulation or musty, moldy odors in your basement or crawl space.
  3. Faulty gutters or downspouts that don’t drain water away from your foundation.
  4. Poor grading, especially due to incomplete or incorrect building practices.
  5. Flooding events that displace soil around your property.
  6. Higher than average rainfall that causes a sudden increase in groundwater.
  7. Extended droughts that cause a sudden decrease in groundwater.

If any of these conditions persist around your property, whether it’s residential or commercial, it’s a good idea to have a trained inspector check for foundation settlement. For single family homes, the inspection is usually free, and an established, trustworthy company will often give you DIY recommendations and a complete rundown of repair options that fit your budget.

Here are just a few of the things you can do on your own to protect your foundation:

  • Do a little fine grading with a few bags of extra top soil to ensure water drains away from your foundation.
  • Inspect and replace faulty sections of gutter and install downspout extensions to direct water away from your house.
  • Check your basement or crawl space for water leaks and apply caulking around all wall penetrations.
  • Do an annual plumbing check to make sure no water is leaking around your foundation.
  • Dig french drains (small gravel-filled trenches) around areas where standing water might accumulate on your property.

Things to know before you commit to foundation settlement repairs

You might be surprised to learn how affordable it can be to restore a settled or sagging foundation. In many cases, the issue can be corrected on a spot basis to stabilize your home and bring it back into alignment. Helical pier technology is cost effective, reliable and requires far less excavation than old-school driven piles or cast-in-place supports.

Helical piers (also known as “screw piles”) such as the ones installed by SouthernDry take up minimal space, are virtually indestructible, and retain their alignment and foundation supporting strength due to the circular bearing plates welded along their length. These bearing plates safely and securely distribute foundation loads evenly across stable soil. They’re fast and simple to install and cause minimal disruption to your property.

If you notice signs of foundation settlement around your property, consider contacting a reputable and knowledgeable foundation repair company like SouthernDry. We don’t do high pressure sales. We’ll help you identify the problem and educate you on the most cost effective solution to correct it. SouthernDry technicians treat you like they want to be treated. It’s common to get a few quotes from other contractors, but we urge you to have us out and talk to us before you make a final decision. We want to earn your business and provide you with a great experience.

We offer free inspections and estimates to homeowners and businesses in Birmingham, Hoover, Pell City, Bessemer, Anniston, Jacksonville, Cullman, Gadsden, Albertville, Jasper, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, Oxford, Montgomery, and the surrounding areas. Complete a contact request form or call us today!

The top 6 causes of basement leaks and what to do about them

leaky basement walls

Water leaks in your basement can kick off a mix of troubles that put the durability of your home (and the health of the people who live there) at risk. Luckily there are affordable steps any homeowner can take to head off basement leaks at the source and ensure years of worry-free living.

These steps fall into three main categories:

  1. Learn what to look for — stay alert for the top causes of leaky basements
  2. Take early action — put the right leak prevention measures in place
  3. Know when to get help — bring in a trusted professional at the right time

The top 6 causes of leaky basements

Your first line of defense against basement leaks is to do regular inspections as part of your upkeep routine. In most cases, unwanted water around your property is coming from one or more of these six main sources.

  1. Eroded or improper grading. Proper grading includes a “crown” that gradually slopes away from your house. This standard (a six-inch fall every 10 feet) is meant to channel water away from the foundation and keep it from seeping into your basement. Some builders skip this step, or the crown can erode naturally over the years just from normal wear and tear.
  2. Defective or incorrectly installed gutters. Sometimes the downspouts from rain gutters channel water toward your foundation instead of away from it. In other cases, worn or broken gutters can allow water to leak and pool around the house before it gets to a properly installed downspout. In this scenario, even small amounts of water can seep into your basement and do incremental damage over time.
  3. Faulty window wells. In homes with window wells, it’s common for drains to become clogged, allowing even normal amounts of water to collect and threaten your basement. Improper installation of the wells can also cause water to accumulate and seep through small cracks or imperfections in concrete or masonry basement walls.
  4. Water pressure around your foundation. The natural moisture in the soil that surrounds your foundation and basement walls changes with the seasons and the weather. This normal variation, combined with the differing water tolerance of local soil, can put a surprising amount of force (called hydrostatic pressure) on basement walls and drive unwanted water inward.
  5. Construction quality issues. When builders pour concrete basement walls, they often hold the forms in place with temporary tie rods that go all the way through the wall and leave holes when the forms are stripped off. This can be a huge leak risk if they don’t patch and seal the holes correctly. Faults in materials and installation can lead to other cumulative leak risks.
  6. Seasonal flooding or weather damage. You don’t have to be a Weather Channel™  buff to know that severe storms and flooding are a real risk to homeowners all over Alabama and throughout the southeastern U.S. Any accumulated water from these events can break down your basement’s defenses, creating new leaks and making old ones worse. The majority of the leaky basement problems are found in Birmingham, Huntsville and Montgomery.

The 4 best preventive measures to fight basement leaks

Once you have a simple inspection routine in place (just like all the other lawn or exterior maintenance you’d normally do) you’ll have a good idea where put a few extra protections in place. Here are four that are simple and inexpensive.

  1. Restore the grading around your foundation. Build up eroded areas of soil close to the house to restore a proper drainage slope. Again, you want the earth to fall six inches over 10 feet so that water can’t collect next to your foundation and seep into the basement. Most home improvement stores sell water-resistant soil mixes that are affordable and easy to spread yourself.
  2. Clean and repair your rain gutters.It doesn’t take long for leaves and debris to build up to the point where water overflows and pools next to the house instead of running off through the downspouts. Remove clogs every year or install leaf guards. You can also buy inexpensive downspout extensions to channel water into your yard and away from the foundation.
  3. Plug all visible interior gaps. Inside your basement there are penetrations where vents or utility services come through from the exterior. Joints between floors, walls and windows can also leak. Check all of these locations on a regular basis for signs of basement leaks and make sure that you plug them fully with water-resistant caulking, joint or sealing materials.
  4. Clear and repair footing and window well drains. Not all houses have them, but some have footing drain pipes that were installed when the basement was built to draw water away and prevent accumulation. Make it a regular practice to open the cleanouts and remove any clogs. If you have window wells around your basement, it’s also important to frequently clear the drains of leaves and debris.

6 signs that it’s time to call a basement leak expert

With some basic vigilance and routine upkeep, basement leaks don’t have to be an expensive problem. Many issues can be prevented or corrected with affordable do-it-yourself solutions. Still, it’s important not to ignore the common signs of a leaky basement. If you see one or more of these problems showing up or getting worse, you should call a reputable basement repair expert for a no-obligation assessment.

  1. Areas with obvious flooding or standing water
  2. Stains on walls, ceilings or floors showing signs of past water damage
  3. Strange or musty odors
  4. Mold, mildew or white powdery residue
  5. Peeling paint or cracked, blistery concrete
  6. Persistently damp soil around foundation exterior

When you need professional basement leak repairs

A good basement repair expert will be transparent with you about pricing and help you choose the repair option that’s best for your situation and budget. They should also give you advice on things you can do to prevent more basement leak trouble in the future. Here are some of the most effective options when you need more extensive repairs:

  1. Basement vapor barriers – completely seals your basement areas with a watertight surround that’s engineered for a dry and healthy home.
  2. Wall and floor sealing – corrects minor cracks that are hard to locate and patch using standard consumer solutions.
  3. Sump pump installation – removes recurring water accumulation that can’t be prevented by other means and drains it away from the house.
  4. Interior basement waterproofing – an effective, affordable and minimally invasive product that safely prevents basement leaks.

Although basement leaks may not be an immediate cause for alarm, they can do a lot of costly damage to your home if you ignore the warning signs. The cumulative effect can not only cause lasting damage to the structure of your house, but also lead to lingering health problems for your family from hidden mold and mildew.

SouthernDry is a trusted basement and crawl space repair specialist located right here in Alabama. We can help you get rid of your basement leak worries with affordable and proven preventative measures like the Guardian® interior basement waterproofing system, wall linings, sump pumps, basement interior drainage options, and advanced sealing techniques that will improve the living experience for your whole family.

Sagging floors and what to do about them

Sagging floors are often a warning sign of hidden structural damage underneath homes in Alabama. If you notice that your floors are starting to slope, or feel soft or springy in spots where they used to feel solid, it’s a good idea to take a closer look and see what’s going on. Symptoms like this tend to get worse over time.

Depending on the age of the house, local soil and weather conditions, and the relative quality of construction methods and materials, floors above crawl spaces and basements tend to be more at risk for sagging. With the right professional help, you’ll be happy to know that there are affordable ways to repair sagging floors and restore “like new” stability to your home.

To help you find out if you have a problem, especially if you own an older home, we’ve put together a few basic facts about what causes floors to sag or bounce, what to look for, and the steps you should take if you suspect trouble.

Five common causes of sagging floors in Alabama homes:

  1. Have there been any alterations to your house, especially new routing cuts for wires, pipes or heating and cooling ductwork? If any construction best practices were skipped, the support members holding up your floors could be compromised. Notches shouldn’t be bigger than one quarter of the depth of a joist or beam, and you don’t want holes anywhere in the middle third of any load-bearing member.

  2. Is there unexpected moisture or humidity in your crawl space or basement? Over time, accumulated moisture can cause wood posts and beams to break down and lose their load-bearing capacity. Eventually, the house will start to sink and settle around these weak spots causing stress in other parts of the structure, possibly including interior finish materials.

  3. Are there unwanted visitors underneath your house? Where there’s moisture, there may also be pests. Destructive varieties like termites, carpenter ants and certain kinds of wood boring beetles are attracted to damp, protected spaces. Once they find a comfortable place in your crawl space or basement, they can multiply quickly and start doing serious damage to the wooden structures holding up your floors.

  4. Were the structures supporting your floors properly installed by the builder? Pier-and-post supports are a common way to support residential floors, especially in combination with a crawl space home. There’s a right way to build them, and unfortunately there are also shortcuts contractors use to save time and money. Poorly installed posts can rot and weaken before their time, leaving critical beams and joists unsupported.

  5. Was the soil beneath your house properly graded and compacted? The soil holding up your foundation and floor supports could sink, shift or settle because of erosion or hydrostatic pressure around your house, or because of poor construction methods. A related cause might be that masonry or concrete supports were spaced too far apart by the original builder, allowing the beams and joists above to fail.

Any one of these alone, or in combination with other contributing factors could be the root cause behind a sagging floor. A qualified Project Planner can quickly and efficiently help you find the source of the trouble and recommend remedies that best fit your situation and budget.

How to repair a sagging floor

There are several time-tested methods for restoring sagging floors to their original straight and level condition. While they all offer different advantages, some take more time and money than others. It’s also important to consider how much disruption each method might cause to your property and your lifestyle while repairs are underway.

  1. Jacking has been a go-to remedy for many years, but it’s a brute force approach. It also has to be done very slowly to avoid cracking surrounding materials in your house. The bigger the sag, or “deflection,” in your floor, the longer it will take to raise one or more carefully placed jacks intermittently until the floor is stable and level again.

  2. Another approach is to add metal or plywood reinforcements to the damaged area of the support member, after realigning it with jacks or temporary supports. These reinforcing materials have to be placed and installed very carefully, and according to strict engineering guidelines, in order to effect a lasting repair.

  3. Instead of spot repairs, some companies recommend bolting long sections of identical new material along the entire failed beam or joist to restore its original strength and alignment. Again, this can be a risky approach unless you can be sure you’re not replicating the original design fault that may have caused the failure in the first place.

  4. Other repair contractors combine the new material in option three (above) within a sandwich of steel or plywood reinforcements called “flitch plates.” While this approach can often be successful, it may consume a lot of expensive material, take a considerable amount of time, and it leaves you with the same engineering risks as some of the less invasive measures.

The method we use at SouthernDry quickly and cost-effectively restores the strength and alignment of your floor. Our SoDry galvanized steel jacks are easily adjustable and can support a tremendous amount of weight. This approach gives you a more permanent solution for sagging floors, and ensures that your crawl space is structurally sound for many years to come. The SoDry system can also be paired with crawl space encapsulation for a cleaner, healthier crawl space environment.

Alabama homeowners choose SouthernDry over “big box” companies because we’re obsessed with customer satisfaction and quality. This is our family business, so our reputation is on the line with every repair. We give you personalized attention from the initial estimate to final clean-up at the end of the job. We’ll answer your questions and stick with you until the job is done to your satisfaction.

Call us today for a free professional consultation about your sagging floor or crawl space situation.

Not all foundation repair companies are alike – the top 5 questions to ask before you do business with a foundation repair contractor

southerndry project plannerYour home is one of your biggest and most important lifetime investments, so if you’re worried that foundation repair bills might be in your future, it’s important to arm yourself with the right information from a trusted source. Industry authorities estimate that a worst-case scenario foundation restoration for an average sized home needing hydraulic piers installed along the perimeter can cost as much as $35,000. On the other hand, repairs for small cracks or superficial settling may only run you a few hundred dollars.

According to a recent Home Advisor survey of 2,600 customers, the typical Alabama homeowner can expect to pay around $8,500 to get their foundation back in “like new” condition. The national average runs a little over $9,200 according to the same survey, but it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone pays this much. Your actual repair bill will vary depending on the age and location of your home, and your local soil and climate profile.

Regardless of the cost, what matters most is to feel confident that the estimate you get is honest, complete, a good value, and that it includes the materials and methods that make the most sense for the overall condition of your home. You want a repair solution that not only takes care of the immediate need, but also ensures that your house will stay structurally sound for years to come, no matter what happens with the weather or surrounding soil.

Correcting foundation problems

All homes and foundation types will settle over time. The amount of settling will vary, even among houses in the same neighborhood, depending on a few basic factors:

  • The soil types underneath the house, and how much they expand and contract
  • The amount of natural groundwater nearby and how it interacts with your foundation
  • Seasonal moisture changes like rain, runoff, drought, or flooding
  • How the ground was prepared and graded prior to construction
  • The materials and methods used to build the structure

Any of these things (or the wrong combination of them) can put too much strain on your foundation, or cause support to fall away from underneath it. Over time, the results show up as odd structural faults like tilted floors, sagging exterior concrete, irregular cracks, bowed basement walls, or doors and windows that gradually drift out of alignment and start to stick.

If you see any of these classic signs of foundation problems, there’s no need to panic, but it is important to get a professional evaluation sooner rather than later. Although many repairs can be done very inexpensively, things can get worse if left unaddressed for too long. Here are a few of the top corrective measures that experienced foundation specialists use:

  1. Basement repair – When most of the foundation is structurally sound, bowed basement walls can often be straightened independently with reinforcement technology. This not only corrects existing damage, but also helps to resist future shifting and buckling. Options include tiebacks, anchors, carbon fiber straps, epoxy crack injections and wall braces.
  2. Helical piers – For foundations problems that are larger, or more spread out across your property, helical piers are the best solution. They’re preferred by reputable foundation repair companies and recommended by several engineers for their versatility, durability, and cost benefit. Helical piles can be installed along the perimeter as well as interior of the home’s foundation.
  3. Crawl Space Repair – Sagging floors can be recovered by replacing damaged crawl space support stations with stronger, more durable steel posts that can be adjusted.

5 important questions to ask your foundation repair contractor before you sign

Before you sign any repair contract, be sure that the repair expert you’ve chosen can give you satisfactory answers to these important qualifying questions:

  1. How many jobs do you typically have going at one time? You want your contractor to be big enough to demonstrate the experience and skill to do a great job, but not so big that you get lost in the shuffle. Many companies push volume over customer service.
  2. What happens if I have a question or a problem while repair is underway? Companies that are family or employee-owned have a personal stake in your satisfaction. You want a repair specialist who responds quickly to issues and relies on customer reviews to build their reputation.
  3. What repair methods can you offer and which ones do you recommend? Your foundation repair expert should put your budget and long term needs above their sales goals. Make sure they can back up their recommendations with actual field observations.
  4. Do you offer warranty protection? The best foundation repair companies will give you a transferable warranty that will stay with your home if you sell it. This can be a big differentiator in the real estate market, besides the immediate peace of mind you get.
  5. Does your company offer payment plans? Your home is one of the most precious lifetime investments you’ll ever make, and maintaining it should be affordable. Reputable foundation repair companies that are confident that their work will last will have no reservation helping you set up a payment plan for bigger jobs.

Alabama homeowners choose SouthernDry over “big box” companies because we’re obsessed with quality and customer satisfaction. We give you one-on-one attention from the initial estimate to final clean-up at the end of the job. This is our family business, so our reputation is on the line with every repair. We’ll answer your questions and stick with you until the job is done to your satisfaction.

Call us today for a free professional consultation about your individual foundation situation.

 

What’s the bad smell in my crawlspace smell and what can I do to eliminate it?

If you’re like most homeowners, you probably only visit your crawl space when you absolutely have to. People usually go down there only to check heating or cooling equipment, change a filter, or turn an obscure plumbing valve – and normally only when they can’t pay somebody else to do it.

Before we get into solutions, let’s explore the most common causes of crawl space odors.

Common causes of crawl space odors in Alabama homes

bad smell in crawl space

Many Alabama homeowners don’t realize that even when a house is still and quiet, the air inside is always moving. As warm air leaves the attic or vents through windows, cooler air from underneath rushes upward to replace it. This process happens naturally in just about every house, and it’s known as the “stack effect” or “chimney effect.”

Alternating periods of hot and cold weather create seasonal changes in moisture and condensation underneath your house. If your crawl space has never been properly sealed, these conditions can soon lead to mold, mildew, and rot. Pests like insects and rodents can also get in through gaps and vents. The stack effect we described can pull the resulting smells straight up into your living areas and allow them to permeate just about everything you own.

Does “bad” crawl space air raise any health concerns?

Strange smells are one thing, but the picture gets even worse when you consider the potential health risks to you and your family.

In addition to bad smells, as crawl space air moves upward, it can also carry mold spores or toxins that off-gas from building materials or contaminated soil according to the EPA. These can attack your respiratory system or cause other health problems. More than a few mystery ailments have been cured when folks discovered they were being slowly poisoned by their own homes.

Here’s how you can eliminate bad smells from the crawl space

encapsulation helps get rid of bad smells coming from the crawl spaceSo what can you do if your crawl space smells bad, or worse, when crawl space odors are coming up into the living areas of your home?

Crawl space encapsulation technology has come a long way in the last few decades, and the good news is that there are a number of highly effective and affordable corrective measures to choose from. Here are a few that are recommended by the most reputable service providers:

  1. Crawl space encapsulation: Using special purpose lining materials that won’t deteriorate or give off odors of their own, encapsulation surrounds your crawl space with complete protection against unwanted moisture. This can easily be coordinated with other corrective measures like drainage improvements and dehumidification.
  2. Drainage: The right professional or do-it-yourselfer can make sure that excess water is properly drained away from your crawl space with a tailored mix of aggregate, perforated piping, or landscape grading. Also consider sealing cracks and vents to keep water from getting in. And don’t forget to ensure your gutters are clean, free of debris, and include downspout extensions that keep water away from underneath the home.
  3. Dehumidification: For chronically damp conditions, there are dehumidifier units that are specially designed to keep crawl spaces clean, dry, and healthy for your family. These work especially well when combined with crawl space encapsulation.
  4. Sump pumps: Crawl space sump pumps take water management to the next level by forcibly removing any excess water. At SouthernDry, we offer a wide variety of sump pumps, including battery backup systems and WiFi enabled models

When it comes to smelly crawl spaces, your number one enemy is unwanted moisture.

Once dampness begins to accumulate under your house, the stage is set for invasion by mold and mildew, which can cause your building materials to rot and deteriorate. These all come with their own odors, but remember that the same conditions may also attract insects and rodents that create even more offensive smells. It’s important to get a trustworthy professional assessment on all these conditions so you can choose the repair options that are best for your situation.

SouthernDry has been a trusted crawl space and basement repair partner for years in Alabama. We can help you protect your family with affordable and proven preventive measures like crawl space encapsulation, dehumidification, and a complete array of reliable foundation repair services that will improve the living experience for your whole family.

My basement walls are bowing inward. What should I do?

Bowed basement walls can be a sign of serious structural trouble under your home. If one or more of your basement walls is starting to bow inward, it’s important to act quickly before the damage spreads. Here are the most important things you should know right now.

When it comes to basement wall damage, here is what you should look out for

The most common cause of bowed basement walls is excess moisture around your home.

Even natural groundwater can put a surprising amount of strain on your foundation. Added factors like excess storm runoff or improper drainage can greatly increase the amount of moisture in the soil. Structural engineers call this force “hydrostatic pressure” and it’s powerful enough to stress vulnerable parts of your foundation with the weight of an average family car.

This constant (or at least seasonal) pressure can build up against your basement walls over time and cause them to crack, bow and buckle inward. In turn, this can weaken their load-bearing capacity and eventually threaten the structural integrity of your whole house. The damage can range from a few superficial cracks to severe visible inward bowing and separation.

Options to repair a bowed basement wall

The good news is that affordable repair methods are available to get your basement walls back in top load-bearing shape. Several proven technologies exist that can not only restore structural integrity, but also make cosmetic improvements and help prevent future deterioration.

The most important next step is to find a trustworthy technician who can evaluate your basement and give you reliable advice on the repair options that are best for your home and budget. Here are a few of the best approaches they might recommend:

  1. Carbon fiber straps: This is a highly reliable and relatively inexpensive interior repair option that reinforces the wall and helps to evenly resist and redistribute any outside pressure. Once installed, they can be painted to match the wall and are nearly invisible.
  2. Wall braces: Similar in concept to carbon fiber straps, this is an engineered steel option that can be anchored in place and then gradually adjusted to pull the wall back into alignment again. While engineered brace installation is mostly an interior job, it might be supported with some light outside excavation.
  3. Wall anchors and tie-backs: These devices usually come in multi-part kits. An interior wall plate connects to a threaded locking rod, which is in turn attached to an exterior ground plate embedded in the nearest stable soil. The number and spacing of the kits is determined by the severity of bowing. From there, they work mechanically similar to braces.
  4. Epoxy injections: To prevent moisture coming through minor cracks, epoxy injections offer both low cost and high structural integrity. Repair material can be applied from inside with no exterior excavation and little to no interior grinding or surface preparation.

The Force spring-loaded bowing basement wall repair system

In most cases, any of these basement wall repair options can work well with both block construction and poured concrete.

Hyrdrostatic pressure is working against your basement and must be addressed

Hydrostatic pressure is the most common reason why your basement walls might be starting to bow or bulge inward and must be alleviated through exterior grading, gravel backfill and drainage. Other causes, which may or may not contribute to the primary hydrostatic pressure issue could include:

  • Poor construction practices or inadequate grading on your home, or on neighboring sites.
  • Excessive amounts of rain or unusual flood events.
  • Tree roots that are spreading into parts of your foundation.
  • Heavy driveway or patio paving elements that add pressure to basement walls.
  • Hidden plumbing leaks due to poor installation or unexpected damage.

We an experienced basement wall repair company serving most of Alabama

If you see bowed walls in your basement, or if you suspect that any of these other warning signs might be present, you should have a trained technician help you assess the situation. SouthernDry has qualified and experienced technicians who will take a look for free and give you a no-pressure evaluation of the state of your foundation and present you with the best repair options.

SouthernDry has been a trusted basement and crawl space repair partner for years in Alabama. We can help you seal and straighten your basement walls with affordable and proven preventative measures like basement wall braces, basement wall anchors, epoxy injections, wall linings, sump pumps, basement interior drainage options, and advanced sealing techniques that will improve the living experience for your whole family.

Dealing with pests and insects in your crawl space or basement?

Home is a place where everyone in your family should feel safe and comfortable. For our own families at SouthernDry, we want our homes to be a refuge from the pressures of daily life, and that includes freedom from the health and property risks that can happen when you have pests living in your basement or crawl space.

In Alabama, especially around the Birmingham area, the most common pests that can invade your house through the crawl space and basement areas may include silverfish, roaches, spiders, termites, rodents, and ants. Spiders can be a tough call, because a few of them are natural predators that help keep the populations of other pests under control, but that doesn’t neccisarily mean you want to share your home with them.

How do pests get into crawl spaces and basements?

Depending on the seasonal conditions around your home, most of them show up in search of food, water, warmth, or a combination of the three. Many have adapted in amazing ways to get through tiny — sometimes nearly invisible — separations in your foundation or ground floor building materials where you’d never imagine they could fit.

Once inside, crawl space pests can quickly establish nests and reproduce at alarming rates. Many are only active at night, so they can get a head start before you even know they’re there. Pests like silverfish, termites, and carpenter ants can cause serious property damage, but even the ones that don’t physically destroy your house can pose health risks for your family.

What attracts basement and crawl space pests?

silverfish in crawl spaceFirst, know that many of these creatures have been around for thousands if not millions of years and they’re part of the world’s natural order. You can have a perfectly maintained and ordered home and yard, and some of them are going to show up no matter what — that’s what they do. That said, there are some conditions you can watch out for to help minimize your exposure.

Moisture accumulation is a big draw for unwanted crawly visitors. This can show up as condensation around basement or crawl space appliances, leaky plumbing, or improper drainage of exterior water that finds its way through gaps in your foundation or seeps through basement walls. Food sources like exposed wood, spilled garbage, or even things like a forgotten bag of wild bird seed that’s been stored and left to decay can be a pest magnet.

Tips to maintain your basement or crawl space to help prevent pests from making it their permanent home

At least once a year, maybe during your usual spring cleaning or winterizing cycle, it’s a good idea to do a whole-house inspection. Make a quick visual check of all the places you can reach that could hold food or moisture that might attract basement or crawl space pests. Clear out what you can and make a note of any new or unusual signs of water accumulation. These might include building material stains, mineral bloom on block work, or musty odors.

What to do if you think you have a rodent or insect problem in your basement or crawl space

If you think you might have a pest infestation, there are two things you should do right away. First, consult a pest removal professional to make sure that you get rid of not only the visible pests, but also their eggs or nesting areas so that you eliminate their reproduction cycle. Once you know you’ve cleared the immediate problem, it’s time to think about prevention.

The best bug and insect solution? Sealing your crawl space or basement and improving air quality

Crawl Space | SouthernDry WaterproofingOne of the most effective ways to eliminate unwanted moisture is a process known as crawl space encapsulation. It’s a general term for an engineered assortment of vapor and moisture barriers that keep your crawl space clean and dry. Depending on how moisture prone your property is, it’s possible to add dehumidification to help control airborne moisture. In tougher cases with heavier drainage issues, there are sump pumps designed for these kinds of spaces that can remove larger volumes of water that attack your home from outside.

Our team isn’t scared of bugs, rodents or even snakes! We can get the job done right

SouthernDry has been a trusted basement and crawl space repair expert for years in the Birmingham area, and we proudly serve most of Alabama. We can help you “shut the door” on common pests with affordable and proven preventive measures like vapor barriers, wall linings, floor linings, drainage options, sump pumps, dehumidifiers, insulation and advanced sealing techniques that will improve the living experience for your whole family.

Helical piers: what are they and what do they do?

Industry experts say that helical piers are the best solution for most home and business foundation repairs, but not everyone knows what they are, what they do, or why they work better than older foundation repair methods.

Here’s a quick rundown to help you decide if they’ll work for you.

helical pier vertical imageThe word “helix” has different meanings depending on whether you’re talking about science or construction. For our purposes, it’s just a fancy name for a spiral shape that’s formed around a central core. Helical piers are earth anchoring devices made for deep foundation support. To qualify as a true helical pier, it’s got to have three defining parts:

  1. a termination point at the top that connects to the structure you want to support
  2. a central shaft that distributes load to the bearing plates
  3. at least one helical bearing plate (usually several) to distribute load to the soil

This simplicity is one key trait that makes helical piers work so well. They’re backed with 100 years of engineering experience to give you the best load-bearing advantages, with the least disruption to your property. The ones we use, manufactured in the United States by A.B. Chance, are certified to meet ISO 9000 international quality standards, and they comply with all national building codes. This means you can install them with complete peace of mind.

So why are helical piers a better choice than old-school foundation repair methods like driven piles, cast-in-place concrete piers? For one thing, because they’re precision-designed steel, you can load them immediately without having to wait for concrete to cure. The helical shape of the bearing plates make installation fast and easy, and they don’t require the costly and extreme excavation needed to drill and place concrete piles under your structure.

Choose helical piers when:

  • You want durable, efficient foundation repair at a lower total cost
  • You’re concerned about the environmental impact of the materials you use
  • You want to avoid unnecessary excavation on your property
  • You have access restrictions that make heavy equipment impractical
  • You have a high water table or weak surface soils like the variable types in Alabama
  • You need assurance that your repair will be able to resist wind or seismic forces

Advantages of Helical Piers for homes & businesses

One of the biggest advantages of helical piers, especially for Birmingham area property owners, is that they create almost no visible soil disturbance. When you use the kind of industrial auger you need to install a concrete pier, the auger blades mix and loosen the surrounding soil, creating more instability around your foundation. In contrast, the helical bearing plates are designed to glide into place and transfer structural loads to deeper, more stable soil layers.

Another good reason to choose helical piers is flexibility. When you work with the right installer, they’ll be able to advise you on the right configuration to deal with variations in Alabama soil. The load-bearing considerations might change depending on whether your property sits on clay, loam, or a mix of the state’s 21 other soil types. Helical piers can be easily field modified and grouped for light, medium, or heavy loads, depending on the extent of the repairs you need.

Finally, because helical piers are environmentally friendly, they’ve become a preferred solution for sensitive areas like protected wetlands and forests. In Alabama, you’ll often find them underneath the boardwalks and walkways that allow people to access our natural wonders without disturbing habitats for plant and animal life.

Get a Free Helical Pier quote

We’d be happy to talk with you about helical piers and whether they might be the right choice for your property. If you think you might be dealing with foundation problems, give us a call and we’ll arrange for a trained technician to give you a free assessment – no pressure and no obligation. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn how affordable foundation repair can be.

Cook Springs, AL | Small House with sunlight image| Air Quality

Ways in Which Poor Indoor Air Quality is Affecting Your Health

Is the air your breathing causing you harm? Many Americans are in danger of suffering lasting health effects because of the air in their homes. This is because the indoor air quality of their homes is actually quite poor. Considering that most people spend 90 percent of their time inside buildings, the state of the indoor air quality of these buildings is important.

There are various toxins in air including airborne particles, ozone, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde as well as odors and various gases. These pollutants come from cleaning products, paint and solvent fumes, building materials, furnishings and other household items.

Health effects of poor indoor air quality

Air pollutants can have lasting effects on our health. Poor air quality can cause:

1. Weight gain

Are you eating healthy and still packing on pounds? Is calorie counting not working for you? Your fluctuations in weight could be the result of indoor air pollution. When our bodies’ natural pathways are overloaded with toxins, our bodies react by gaining weight.

Cook Springs, AL | Indoor Air Quality Image

2. Asthma

According to the World Health Organization, up to 30 percent of respiratory diseases are caused by exposure to poor indoor air. This is understandable, because we are exposed to these toxic agents every day just by inhaling the air where it exists in many areas of our homes, from the kitchen to the basement. You can protect your household by ensuring that the air in your home is free of pollutants and disease causing agents by investing in a quality indoor air purifier.

3. Depression

While depression is often associated with genetics or events in a person’s life, it can also be the result of toxins in the air. Studies have shown a correlation between long term exposure to toxins in the air and depression. You can reduce the severity of your depression by getting rid of the pollutants in the air.

4. Allergies

More people in America suffer from allergies today than in the past. One of the main reasons for this is the higher levels of toxins in indoor air. These pollutants trigger allergic reactions such as sneezing, headaches, skin rashes, swelling, fatigue and a runny nose.

Getting rid of these allergens will help to protect your household from developing allergies.

Ensuring clean indoor air

While you may rely on your HVAC to filter out particulates in the air, it is not adequate for getting rid of gases as well as microscopic agents. It is best to invest in a system that will help to cycle air in your home to ensure fresh air in the house.

CONTACT SOUTHERNDRY TODAY TO SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION! 205-719-2544

Crawl Space | SouthernDry Waterproofing

Crawl Space Waterproofing – 4 Reasons Why You Should Have Your Crawl Space Inspected

Are you in need of crawl space waterproofing services? Many owners of homes with crawlspaces are not aware that they need these services until the damage to their homes is extensive. Identifying moisture issues in your crawl space is a great way to ensure that you can catch moisture problems early. Regular crawl space inspections will help you identify these issues.

The following are some ways that crawl space inspections can help.

  1. It will ensure that your crawl space remains clean and dry

The crawl space is not a space that is frequently explored by the residents of any home. Moisture problems in these spaces are therefore likely to go without notice. They are often noticed when the problem is in advanced stages.

Regular inspections can help to identify moisture problems in the early stages of development. A professional can identify the subtle and less obvious signs of a moisture problem and help you seek solutions. This ensures that the crawl space remains clean and dry.

  1. It will help you find out the true reason behind the tilting floor

There are many reasons why homes develop tilting floors. Sagging floors can be hazardous. They can cause people to trip and fall. Severely weakened floors can even result in people or furniture tumbling right through them.

Reinforcer | SouthernDry Waterproofing

 

One of the most common causes of tilting floors in homes with crawl spaces is moisture problems in the crawl space. An inspection of the space can help you determine whether this is the case in your home. This ensures that you can apply an efficient solution.

  1. It will help you determine the cause of the cracking dry wall or plaster

Are you struggling with repeatedly repairing cracking of plaster or dry wall in your home? The solution to your problem may be in your crawl pace. An inspection of your crawl space may reveal problems such as the shifting of the soil beneath the home. This may be causing your walls to shift and the dry wall or plaster to crack.

  1. It will help to reveal termite infestations

A termite problem can result in damage to the structure of your home. These insects have a preference for damp and rotting timber. It therefore won’t help to perform a termite treatment if you have an underlying water problem. An inspection will not only reveal the infestation but also the water problem. This will ensure you invest in crawl space waterproofing to help prevent a repeat infestation.

CONTACT SOUTHERNDRY TODAY TO SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION! 205-719-2544