Archive for Posted Articles

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.

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.

What is Concrete?..and Why Does it Crack?

What is Concrete?

Foundatin Crack

Foundation Crack

Quite often the terms cement and concrete are used interchangeably, but cement is actually an ingredient of concrete. Cement is made up of limestone, calcium, silicon iron, and aluminum. This mixture is heated to about 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit or 1, 482 degrees Celsius to form a substance called clinkers (looks like marbles). Clinkers are ground to make a powder and then gypsum is added. As a result of this, a powder is formed and this powder is referred to as cement.

Concrete is a mixture of cement, water, sand, gravel or crushed stone.
When you add water to cement and rock mixture a reaction called hydration makes the cement and water harden and it binds the aggregates into a rocklike mass. This hardening process forms concrete and this hardening process continues for years. As a result of this concrete gets stronger as it gets older.

If the Concrete Mixture is so Strong Why Does it Crack?

The main reasons are:

The most frequent cause of cracks in concrete is shrinkage that occurs as the concrete dries. When concrete cures, the water that has been mixed with the cement begins to evaporate and this causes the concrete to shrink a little.

Support Problems
Some of the most severe cracks in concrete are caused by inadequate structural support. This lack of structural support may occur as the soil beneath concrete slab shifts or is eroded by natural elements such as wind and rain. It could also be caused by poor installation such as improper use of rebar or insufficient formwork.

Changes in Temperature
The temperature change can be a major cause of cracks in large concrete applications. This is because of the temperature variations between concrete that are poured first and subsequent layers of concrete. Temperature variations can cause some portions of the slab to expand while others are shrinking and this will lead to cracking.

The Spalling Effect
Spalling is a term given to concrete when it has a rough, flaky surface. Spalling is the result of hundreds of tiny cracks, which usually appear only on the surface of the concrete. Spalling typically occurs when too much water is added to the concrete mixture, or when the surface layer dries faster than interior layers.

If additional strength is required concrete may contain metal reinforcement, this will help increase the strength of concrete.  These reinforcement techniques may include wire mesh, rebar or steel beams. Should these materials begin to rust, the rust will cause an expansion in the concrete. This expansion may cause hairline cracks and small surface cracks. It is also possible that water could infiltrate these cracks and cause even more rust.

Of course, every case is different and if you have cracked concrete that you think is becoming a foundation problem or if you simply have a leaky basement or cracks in basement foundations you should have it reviewed by an expert.

Cracked Foundation Repair

Quite often repairs or solutions are not as expensive as you might think and the repair will be worth the peace of mind. In the following video, the house that is being repaired was getting ready to be sold and the owner wanted the foundation crack repaired properly. It is interesting to note that the foundation wall crack repair warranty is transferrable to the new owner. It doesn’t get much better than that.

If you have a foundation problem and would like to have it reviewed by an expert, call Phil Russell of CrackMaster Concrete 604-614-2615. There is no cost or obligation for this service.

What Is a French Drain?

French Drain

Example of one type of French Drain

A French drain is highly effective and you will find it in a variety of uses. Generally speaking it is a drain, normally along a footing, constructed of tile laid in a bed of gravel and designed to collect water and carry it away from a footing or unwanted location. Consequently the term French drain is often synoptic with the terms drain tile or perimeter drain.

In Vancouver you may find your neighbor’s land is at a higher elevation than yours and you may have problems with excessive moisture on your property. Water from your neighbor’s property may be running down the slope on to your property. One remedy here is to install a French drain.

Historically the French drain was as simple ditch with a pitch that was ample enough to run water away from the protected area. Today French drains are made with perforated pipe known as weeping tile. French Drains are commonly dug down 36-48 inches. Then 1 1/4” rock is placed at the bottom of the trench and a corrugated pipe is placed over this rock. Once in place, the trench is filled with more rock to approximately 4-6” below grade. The last 4-6” are then topped with soil and/or sod.

Landscaping textiles are used to prevent migration of the drainage material and to prevent dirt and roots from entering into and clogging the drainage pipes. The primary reason for the perforation in the pipe is to allow the water to drain along the full length of the pipe and to discharge any surplus water at the pipes end .
If land is flat a catch basin and discharge pump (sump pump) may be necessary to contain water

Listen to Phil Russells Video Interview