Author Archive for Phil Russell

Sump Pumps and Wet Basement Repair

A sump pump is a pump that removes water that has accumulated in a water collecting sump which is usually in a basement. Water may enter via the perimeter drains of a basement waterproofing system, funneling into the pit as a result of rain or natural ground water, if the basement is below the water table level.

Sump pumps are used where basement flooding occurs regularly and to fix dampness where the foundation is below the water table. Sump pumps send water away from a house usually to a municipal storm drain or a dry well.

Essentially there are two types of sump pumps. There is the upright pedestal type and the submersible type.

The upright is the less expensive of the two. This unit is a vertical model where the motor is mounted on a pedestal and the base of the pedestal rests on the bottom of the sump pump. The motor at the top of the pedestal must never be under water.

The submersible ty0e of sump pump is usually more expensive but it cannot be damaged by flooding and requires little maintenance. This type can also run for a long period of time without damage to the motor.

It is possible that a sump pump will sit idle for months and then it may be needed. It is wise to check out the following every three months or so.

1. Make sure the pump inlet screen is clean.
2. Check the electric cord and make certain the pump is plugged in.
3. Turn the pump on to make sure it works.

On a yearly basis you should do the following:

1. Clean the Sump
2. Oil or grease the pump as specified in the manual
3. Take the pump out of the sump and clean it.
4. Adjust the float level if necessary.

If you have a wet basement and need a wet basement repair it is always prudent to call an expert. Phil Russell has been managing foundation water problems for many years. He is informative, easy to talk to and his work has full warranties. Call Phil today for a FREE quote on your water problem.

Phil services, the lower mainland, including Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Maple Ridge, Surrey, Langley and Chilliwack.

Phil Can be reached at 604-614-2615

Drain Tile Damage and Wet Basement Repair

If you’re looking for details on the main causes of a leaky basement, this article may help you with your approach, before you commit to any major costs on your wet basement repair.

Concrete Crack Repair

Through time and with general wear and tear concrete will depreciate and eventually hairline cracks will form due to the age and condition of the concrete and other related factors.

What are the main causes of concrete cracks?

There are a few main reasons why cracks appear in the concrete. The first one is the settling period and the amount of water used when the concrete is laid. Not all the concrete will settle at exactly the same time causing slight movement and pressure points which eventually leads to cracks. The quality and thickness of the concrete will determine the longevity of the product and if it’s not of a decent standard or width then, there will more than likely be problems and cracking further down the line. Furniture and equipment play a part in how well your concrete copes and if you have too much weight in one area of the basement then, this can lead to cracks. Weather can play a big part in the concrete, as in extreme wet conditions the soil beneath the concrete can cause the slabs to sink slightly leaving them vulnerable and also in cold weather when the soil below freezes and expands and then thaws and contracts it will certainly cause movement in the concrete and eventual cracks to appear.

Concrete Cracks can be repaired from both the inside and outside. New technology used by CrackMaster Concrete allows for crack repair on the inside without the additional cost and mess of repairing on the outside.

Drain Tile Flush

Every few years it is also recommended to power flush the perimeter drain around your house. Your house perimeter drain can collect dirt and debris and a power backwash or Hydro flushing will remove this. Tree roots can also be a problem if there is a doubt about the source of the problem the drain can be scoped with a camera to quickly identify the problem area before you start to dig up your yard. Listen to Phil as he talks on this issue.


How do you carry out a wet basement repair?

When you perform a wet basement repair it’s an essential requirement that, you can see the source of where the problem lies and not wait until the area is dry, as this not only gives you the extra insurance of what area needs your attention but gives the customer the piece of mind that the area that was letting water in has now been fixed.

In dealing with such tasks it’s important is to get involved with a company who not only is capable of carrying out wet basement repairs and other areas like swimming pools and ponds effectively but who offer strong warranties and preferably lifetime guarantees which can be transferred to new home ownership.

I hope you found our article useful. If you require any additional information regarding the causes of concrete cracking you can visit the website at or call Phil direct at 604-614-2615

Drain Cleaning

Interviewer:  So I’m on site here today with Phil Russell of CrackMaster Concrete and Phil is cleaning a drain today.  Phil can you explain the equipment to us as some of it is new to me and I’m sure it is to a lot of people.  Maybe you can explain what it is that you’re doing here and talk about the equipment that you’re using so people can understand how it works.

Phil Russell:  Well, both of these machines here, one’s a “flusher” and one is a “snake” or an “eel” and they can be used in storm lines or sewer lines.  And with the flusher here, it’s got four heads going back and one going forward.  And the configuration can be changed too.

Interviewer:  So, that will do the backflush then?

Phil Russell: Yes

Interviewer:  It goes down the system and it flushes backwards.

Phil Russell:  It pulls everything back into a catch basin

Interviewer:  I understand.

Phil Russell:  And this is more for blockages of the iron — the red iron oxide that we have in the systems here in the Langley and Surrey area.  And then this is more for tree roots and stuff like that, major blockage.  This thing is pretty nasty.  It pulled back tree roots like you wouldn’t believe.  It’s (00:01:07).

Interviewer: Okay.  So, a recap here, if there is a blockage in the drainage system of some type, you’d probably send a camera down first, of course —

Phil Russell: Yes

Interviewer: To review where the problem is, determine what type of equipment you’re going to use.

Phil Russell: Yes

Interviewer: And then from that point, your decision to be made is which way to go and you solve the problem.

Phil Russell: Exactly, exactly.  Both machines do the job quite well but one is a little more for one area and one is for the other the major blockage is one, and the tree root is another.

Interviewer:  Okay.  I know that tree roots in Vancouver can be a real problem.  I guess the question I have for you, if a person is being prudent about the maintenance of their home, I guess one-year maintenance would be a good thing to do?

Phil Russell: It would be a great thing to do.  You know, one-year maintenance would probably make the difference between replacing your system ones every 20 years to you know once every 10 years kind of thing.

Interviewer: So it’s cost effective to do it.

Phil Russell: Yes and it’s preventable too, right?  You’re preventing your basement from flooding and the biggest thing for this, these “flushers” and “eel,” if your basement has that watermarks up the wall and then on the floors, that means it’s your weeping tile system.  That’s the telltale sign.  If that’s what’s showing around the perimeter of your property on the inside, then that’s weeping tile system.

Interviewer: Okay.  So if somebody were suspect of a problem in their house give you a call — you determine the nature of the problem and give a free quote?

Phil Russell: Yes, it’s a free quote, anywhere in the lower mainland, the greater Vancouver area kind of thing.

Interviewer: And when the work is done, your warranties are second to none?

Phil Russell: Second to none.  We have no problems in that area.  They can get a hold of us at 604-614-2615.

Interviewer: Excellent.  Thank you very much again Phil.

Phil Russell: Thank you.

Tree Roots – Could Cause Wet Basement Repair

Drain tiles are hidden from view and usually, the homeowner is not aware of a problem until it is too late and they are searching for some form of wet basement repair.

The good news is with today’s technology it is possible to find out what the problem is without excavating as they would have had to do a few years ago. In today’s world, a high tech TV video drain camera can be used to scope out the nature of the problem. This takes out the guesswork of wet basement repair and may very well lead to a less expensive solution.

In houses that are a little older, it is more than likely that clay tiles were used on your home’s perimeter to channel water away from the structure. In time ground shifts and clay tiles may also shift allowing access for tree roots.

It is very common to find that the water restriction problem is caused by tree roots that have penetrated the tiles. What many homeowners don’t realize is tree roots can be slowly but surely penetrating your drain tiles in search of moisture and nutrients. When this happens more damage is being done as roots are allowed to continue to grow.

Once a tree root is inside your tiles and it begins to grow there will be water restriction and damage to the tiles.

The most common way to remove tree roots from your drains is by using a drain snake, or an auger, to cut roots from the drains. It should be noted that roots grow each year so you may want to maintain your drain by scoping and possibly using an auger once a year.

In the right condition, it also makes sense to remove the roots by using a high-pressure water drain jetting system (this should be left for the experts). The jetting system is designed to blast water under high pressure backward out of your drains and consequently removing obstacles along the way.

The key thing is to identify to what degree the tree roots have affected your drains. Once you are armed with this knowledge than you can map out a solution and repair the problem with the least amount of cast and intrusion.

We are experts in keeping your basement dry. We provide video Drain Inspections, Water-Jet Drain Flushing and other solutions and services to concrete foundations including crack repair. Call Phil today for a FREE quote 604-614-2615

Cleaning Concrete Driveways

When we are called to do wet basement repairs we are often asked about stains on concrete driveways.

Spreading kitty litter on an oil stain is a commonly used method to remove grease and oil stains from concrete driveways. Kitty litter will draw out oil and grease, and will be the most effective if the stain is recent. If you use cat litter let it sit for about 2 days, and then sweep it up. This may remove all surface oils but deeper oil stains in the concrete may need something else. Try sprinkling a layer of dry concrete powder over the stain and let it sit for a day or two. Here is a tip, don’t do it in the rain or if you are expecting rain.

Older stains may require the help of a commercial cleaner. One degreaser is named Gunk another one is called Swab. Castro also makes a product called Super Clean. After a stain is removed, make sure you take out the hose and wash away any residue.

More aggressive cleaning chooses could involve the use of abrasive acids, but exhaust you’re cleaning opportunities first. Before using more aggressive techniques consider having your concrete looked at by a professional as some of the more aggressive techniques require precautionary measures. If you tackle this approach on your own make sure you follow all manufacturer guidelines.

What Can I do About Sinking Concrete?

If your concrete surface is sinking into the ground, more than likely your sub grade was prepared improperly. It is possible that loose dirt was used used and this will settle as a result of  water erosion. It is also possible that the  concrete may have been subjected to heavy weight, which caused the sinkage. 
Slabjacking is an alternative method of to replacing the sunken floor. This sunken concrete repair  could save you a lot of money. Slab jacking where a concrete repair professional drills small holes in the concrete surface, and pumps a mixture of sand, ash, and other materials into the soil below the surface. This process “floats” the floor back up to its proper level. The entire process may take a few hours and will probably be a lot less expensive than the cost of a full replacement.

Wet Basement Repair Vancouver – Waterproofing VS Damp-Proofing!

When you are looking for wet basement repair or wanting to prevent a leaky basement or future wet basement repair it becomes important to understand the difference between waterproofing and damp-proofing. The average consumer does not understand the difference between waterproofing and damp-proofing and they certainly should because they are not the same.

Damp-proofing uses a mixture that is mostly tar based. It covers the foundation and protects it from moisture. Waterproofing uses a material that contains rubber and is capable of stretching to cover cracks as your house settles.

Damp-proofing only slows the penetration of soil moisture through the concrete and it has no resistance against water under hydrostatic pressure. Damp-proofing products can become brittle when dry and can be easily broken down by groundwater. In addition to this damp-proofing does not have the ability to span cracks, this means when the concrete cracks, so do the damp proofing, consequently, it will not provide protection against water intrusion.

On the other hand waterproofing, your foundation is done by spraying an elastomeric membrane onto the exterior of the foundation. This membrane stops water from penetrating the concrete, even under hydrostatic pressure. The elastomeric membrane stop water because it will span foundation shrinkage cracks, ensuring your basement is completely protected.

When the average consumer truly understands the best fix for their wet basement repair waterproofing becomes the first choice.

Listen to Phil Rusell of CrackMaster Concrete talk about this in his Question and answer series.

What are some common causes of clogged drains?

• Drains may block because they are in poor physical condition and normal contents are not being cleared.
• They may be in satisfactory condition but have been abused by flushing away disposable nappies or other items such as plastic bags that should never be placed into the sewerage system. Quite often a build up of hair, food, sediment and grime may also be the problem
• Excessive disposal of cooking fats and oils, along with other domestic products, can cause blockage .
• Tree roots entering a broken drain can also be a problem

Your First Approach to the problem might be:

Remove the drain stopper or strain entirely to access and clean away any build-up. If this is not done fairly regularly, a drain stopper can accumulate enough debris such as hair to completely clog it. The drain stopper in your bathroom tub is quite frequently a problem with this issue.

Try a cleaning solution of vinegar, baking soda, and boiling water. If your drain draining slowly, pour 1 cup of baking soda followed by water and 1 cup of vinegar, down the drain to dissolve at the clogging substance.

Use a plunger. Try stopping other drains to the same pipe, and apply petroleum jelly to the rim of the plunger, you can apply suctional force to loosen whatever substance is clogging your pipes. You can follow up with hot water, or the solution of vinegar, baking soda and boiling water.

Try a drain snake. Remove the drain stopper or strain and use the snake to find the clog, now you can loosen, and break up the clog.

If you are not successful with the above and you feel the need to call an experienced company to scope the problem call Phil at 604-614-2615

What are The Common Causes of a Wet Basement?

When buying a house with a basement be sure to check for signs of dampness in the basement. You are better off understanding any possible water problems before you buy the house than after you buy. At the very least understanding, the water problem will help you decide on the type of wet basement repair that will best fix the problem.

If you are thinking about square footage of your new home keep in mind the basement can be used for additional space in your home if it is dry. A leaky basement is wet and damp and it will become wasted, possibly unhealthy space.

Some common causes of a Wet Basement:
1.Groundwater penetrating through foundation cracks or window wells
2.Plugged gutter system
3.Failed Tile system
4.Not enough gutters
5.Poor grading of land near the house. Water should flow away from the  house and not toward it.
6.Condensation from pipes. In areas of high humidity pipes can form condensation and drip. This is not uncommon from air conditioner units without release valves.

When you are reviewing the property pay attention to tell tale signs of possible water dampness

Signs of Dampness might be:
1.A musty or damp smell
2. Efflorescence it is a condition that produces a white or sometimes grayish ash on the walls. It is caused by salt deposits left behind by evaporating water.
3.Water stains along the walls or floors.
4. Spalling is when water gets inside the surface of concrete, brick or stone, salt deposits from the water cause the surface to flake away, peel or pop off.

Some common causes of a Wet Basement:
1.Groundwater penetrating through foundation cracks or window wells
2.Plugged gutter system
3.Failed Tile system
4.Not enough gutters
5.Poor grading of land near the house. Water should flow away from the house and not toward it.
6.Condensation from pipes. In areas of high humidity, pipes can form condensation and drip. This is not uncommon from air conditioner units without release valves.

Some Solutions:
1. Make sure all of your downspouts are connected and directed properly.
2.Attach extensions to downspouts if needed to channel water away from the house
3.Clean out gutters
4. Regrade the landscaping is necessary to slope away from the house
5.Install a dehumidifier
6.Install drain tile
7.Install a Sump Pump
8.Install a French drain
9.Install a floor drain

Basements are built into the ground and it is reasonable to assume that they could become susceptible to water penetration over time. Water in the ground or soil can put constant pressure on the basement walls and water will follow the path of least resistance and could result in a leaky basement.

If you are experiencing water problems and you are looking for a wet basement repair call an expert for advice. In most cases, the cost of wet basement repair is less than you expected and a dry basement is healthier, less worrisome and you may recapture unused space that can be refinished for your family enjoyment.

There is a white stain on my concrete.. What is it?

The Meaning of efflorescence on your concrete wall

Stains are evidence of dampness in that area of the wall the acidic residue that you see is also called efflorescence. You will recognize efflorescence as it will be white and may even be fuzzy in appearance or to the touch.

Efflorescence forms when water infiltrates a concrete wall and dissolves minerals. As the water evaporates from the surface of the wall the mineral deposits are left behind. Usually, efflorescence is a visual problem, sometimes the efflorescence crystals grow inside the surface of the wall, and it causes spalling. Spalling is when the surface peels, or flakes off. The salt is pushing from the inside out and may be the cause of crumbling and deterioration.

In this video, you will see a lot of examples of efflorescence appearing. The setting is an underground parkade of a fairly new apartment. The situation is a commercial application but the principle is the same for residential and commercial. You may find in a residential house setting the process could be a little different depending on access and the types of foundation crack repair needed to do the repair.

If you see efflorescence you could have a moisture problem and if gone untreated it can cause deterioration.

If the efflorescence is removed, and then returns, it is a sign that water is entering the wall and forcing the salts out. If the efflorescence does not return, then it was probably caused by initial moisture and salts from when the concrete was placed.

If you are concerned about efflorescence on your concrete walls or if you are experiencing a leaky basement and are in need of wet basement repair of some time call an expert.

Phil Russell of CrackMaster Concrete is easy to talk to and is a Master in dry basements.

Call Phil 604 -614-2615 for all of your concrete foundation needs.