August 2011

Welcome!  John

It looks as though summer has finally arrived in the Inland Northwest!  While we are enjoying the sun and warm temperatures, now is a great time to start our preparations for the upcoming seasonal changes.  Specifically related to the basements in our homes and business structures.  While things are dry and warm its a great opportunity to inspect these area’s in the hopes of containing or eliminating any future problems.

ServiceMaster Emergency Services by Covington
(509) 922-2500  (208) 667-7670

How  Even  Slight  Basement  Water  Damage  Can  Affect  a  Whole Structure

The slightest of water damage, if it seeps through the microscopic framework of the supporting structure of any home or building, can render it structurally weak and unsafe to live in.

The gravity of water damage is such that it needs to be addressed head on.  Most people will agree that the last thing they have in mind is to live or work in a structure that is unsound and weak.

The Anatomy of Basement Systems

Basement systems are built in such a way that they provide a sturdy and reliable foundation upon which the whole building or house rests upon.  Typically basement systems are composed of many layers of reinforced concrete and other durable construction materials that lend it its strength. Furthermore, steel bars of varying sizes provide the additional framework upon which the cement aggregates adhere to.

For the most part, the foundation of a structure is made up of steel reinforced concrete. Since cement is mostly made up of calcium, sodium, and potassium hydroxides, constant and prolonged exposure to water and moisture will weaken the chemical bonds among these molecules. Unless the cement has been pre-treated with additives that lend it structurally sound, cement systems may eventually crumble under extreme pressures.

Some basements are made up of wood beams and other foundations. The foundation of such structures are relatively weaker compared to those made of reinforced concrete. As such, the damage brought about by water and moisture may be readily evident in these homes.

The Water in the Basement Phenomenon

The structural foundations of a home or building should be based on the principle that the structure is able to provide an effective and sturdy barrier between its surfaces and contents and that of the outside environment. When this principle fails, flooding in the basement will occur.
The basement is commonly affected by flood because of its inherent design. Basements are places that are located below ground level and are closer to underground water sources. This characteristic makes basements very vulnerable to flooding. Flooding in the basement therefore is brought about by the seepage of groundwater through the basement floor surfaces. This almost always occurs when the underground water pressure rises to a level which is greater than the air pressure found in the basement.
The pressure difference between the two opposing sides of the basement floor and walls favor the movement of water from the outside of the structure and into the basement. Of course, basement flooding does not always occur this way. Other causes of unwanted water in the basement include sump pump failure, leaking water and sewage pipes, and or simply massive flash floods.
Ensuring the structural soundness of your home or building always starts with an appreciation of the role of the basement.  By understanding how water and water damage can weaken this foundation, we can look for ways to ensure its structural integrity.

Ensuring Structural Soundness

A few tips to make sure that your basement is strong and solid:
Remove all standing water and moisture from the basement. Identify signs which can indicate water problems such as water stains, mold and mildew growth, and that distinct earthy smell.
Make sure that the sump pump installed in the basement is working efficiently. Look at the manufacturer’s manual for frequency of servicing. If you have the chance, call  authorized representatives of the sump pump so they will perform the maintenance themselves.
If you do not have a sump pump installed, installing one now is not only a sound idea but a practical one at that. Having a sump pump significantly lowers your worries about having water accumulate in your basement.
Perform periodic and frequent inspection of your basement especially in those areas where water pipes run. Also look under the tiles, in corners, and in places where the floor meets the walls for signs of water seepage or stains.
Use electric fans and other ventilators to improve the circulation of air in the basement. If you can afford one, installing a dehumidifier can help hasten the drying of water and water vapor or moisture. If the basement has an access to a small window, open this as well.
Inspect the walls for cracks and signs of water seepage. Mark these spots where potential water problems may arise. Patch them up with appropriate water-proofing materials even before they start to worsen.
Ask for professional help in making a structural inspection and analysis of the basement. Professional services can include thermal imaging and other state-of-the-art diagnostic processes to evaluate the structure of any kind of building. These may come at a cost but, in the long run, you will ultimately enjoy savings by preventing disasters which can result from a weakened structure.

In the event of a water loss or damage here at ServiceMaster Emergency Services by Covington we have the resources, knowledge and expertise to assist.  Please don’t hesitate to call
(509) 922-2500 or (208) 667-7670