Combating Potential Seattle Home Hazards

Written by PermaDry on . Posted in Uncategorized

If you’ve lived in Seattle for any amount of time, you’re probably familiar with getting a little wet. Whether you’ve frequented the dripping streets or own a home on the waterfront, water is no stranger to you.

After all, Seattle receives an average annual precipitation of over 36 inches per year. This rainfall contributes to many important water sources. One of these includes ground water, the source of well water for many Seattle area residents.

Additionally, high ground water yields high water tables and a moist environment. Seattle’s proximity to the sea also allows for increased humidity levels.

What does all this mean for you? If you own home in the Seattle area, it may be vulnerable to water damage. As a result, you’ll need to take steps to protect your home from condensation, leaks, flooding, humidity, and mold.

Potential Home Hazards

Where there’s moisture, there’s usually mold and mildew. Mold and mildew can work their way into the cracks of your home and eat away at the wood and other materials. Mold and mildew result from a variety of conditions. Some of these include:

  • Flooding
  • Messy and unkempt crawl spaces
  • Poor air circulation and condensation
  • Unchecked leaks
  • Wet or humid indoor air

Additionally, your home’s exterior can affect how much moisture and mold build up in your home’s interior. Keep an eye out for the following issues:

  • Downhill or uneven home placement
  • Poor yard or gutter drainage
  • Rising sea levels for waterfront homes
  • Sump pump and other irrigation problems
  • Well deterioration or leakage

Sometimes multiple issues can arise at the same time, making it difficult to identify the true cause behind leaks, floods, and mold. So how can you combat such potential home hazards?

Use the following information to guide you, so you can seek professional help as needed.

Ways to Minimize and Prevent Water Damage

Mold and water damage are often difficult to spot at a glance. They like to live in the darker, damper corners of your home, where you’re not likely to look for them.

To prevent water damage, regularly inspect your home for leaks, humidity, and condensation. The most likely places for water buildup include the basement, exposed pipes, bathroom walls and floors, etc. But you’ll want to be thorough—leave no corner or cabinet unseen.

Be On the Lookout for These Telltale Signs

As you investigate various parts of your home, be on the lookout for telltale signs of water damage and moisture buildup:

  • Bubbling walls or flooring
  • Cracked walls
  • Discoloration
  • Loose pipe connections
  • Mildew
  • Rusted or corroded pipes
  • Slow or clogged drains

If you spot any of these signs in your home, it’s time to call in the professionals. Plumbers can repair leaking pipes, rusted plumbing, and many other issues in your home, so they’re often the first people you should call.

However, if your plumber continually fixes the same areas, you may need to dig a little deeper to find the reason for the water buildup. Your home’s crawl space is a good place to start.

Crawl Space Considerations

Crawl spaces are notorious contributors to and hosts of mold, pests, and condensation buildup. Any one of these problems create an unhealthy environment in your crawl space. And because crawl spaces are out of sight, their condition usually remains out of mind.

But you shouldn’t ever ignore the state of your home’s crawl space. Over 40% of your air supply comes from this area. This means that the mold or other contaminants hiding beneath your home can put your family at risk of allergies and other respiratory conditions.

The best way to minimize this risk is by preventing it in the first place. One way you can keep your crawl space free of moisture and rot is through a crawl space encapsulation, or sealed crawl space. This involves installing a concrete or plastic covering to seal any gaps.

Your crawl space coverings shouldn’t just be run-of-the-mill, though. It’s essential to obtain a reliable reinforced liner system to guarantee moisture prevention. While you’re at it, consider purchasing new or original vapor barriers to provide additional protection.

Also, have a professional waterproofing provider to check the state of your crawl space insulation. Ask him or her if your home has adequate drainage systems installed. This will help maintain the appropriate crawl space condition to keep your home and family safe and dry.

Safe Seattle Living

To optimize the protection of your home and family, stay informed on the latest water issues in your area. Read up on the recent precipitation averages, sea levels, and water table measurements.

Keeping track of all these factors will help protect and preserve the work you’ve put into waterproofing your home. And if you ever have a problem you don’t quite know how to diagnose or fix, contact your local waterproofing provider.

Get Rid of Basement Mold Once and For All

Written by PermaDry on . Posted in Basement Mold

*Before you do anything please make sure that any leaking water that could be causing the mold is shut off.

Mold is a silent destroyer: it creeps in when you least expect it, slowly and surely breaking down dead materials and growing in fuzzy, colorful clusters.

Outdoors, mold plays a key role in decomposing organic matter. Indoors, mold can irritate eyes, trigger asthma attacks, and even lead to chronic illnesses.

When you see white, black, gray, or green mold in your basement, it can be tempting to panic and call in professionals with hazmat suits to remove it.

Don’t worry. Stay calm.

While mold can cause health problems in certain individuals, most mold is relatively harmless. Some estimate that we’re surrounded by tens of thousands of types of mold, and chances are likely that you’re breathing in mold spores right now.

Unfortunately, mold is unsightly, and it can cause additional damage to your home and basement if not dealt with properly. While you don’t need a hazmat team to remove your mold, it’s important to identify the cause of the mold and take steps to remove it yourself.

What Causes Basement Mold?

As mold grows, it releases microscopic spores that drift in the air. Because mold can be found almost everywhere, it’s likely that mold will find its way into your house no matter how often you clean it.

However, mold is attracted to moist, damp, and dark environments (such as your basement). Any of the following could encourage
mold growth:

  • Condensation – Basements are often known for their humidity and cold temperatures. Together these create condensation which can collect on cold metal pipes, floors, and walls.
  • Flooding – Basement flooding is one of the biggest causes of mold infestation. When a house floods, the water runs down to the basement, where it doesn’t dry as quickly as other rooms.
  • Leaks – Basement leaks are sometimes hard to spot, as the leak often starts in a nearby room and eventually works its way to the basement. Additionally, cracks in the walls and flooring can also allow ground water to come into your home.
  • Humidity – Even if water from a flood or leak has long since evaporated, the water in the air can create the perfect environment for mold.

You can minimize these growth factors by keeping your basement well lit, ventilated, and insulated.

How to Spot Basement Mold

The easiest way to tell if your basement has mold is the smell. Mold has a musty, earthy smell. In many cases, you can smell the mold long before you can spot it.

If your basement smells musty, it’s a good idea to check for mold because it grows just about anywhere. The most common places to check include the following:

  • Wall cavities
  • Wooden building frames
  • Insulation
  • Storage boxes
  • Furniture
  • Pipes
  • Ducts and vents

Additional indications of mold include floor warping and ceiling or wall discoloration.

Steps to Remove Basement Mold

If you’ve spotted mold in your basement, it’s best to take immediate steps to prevent additional damage to your home. Multiple DIY techniques are available to eliminate mold quickly and safely.

Fight Mold with Bleach

If your basement is flooded, it’s best to dry the room thoroughly and then sanitize with bleach. Bleach reduces mold count while neutralizing harmful bacteria at the same time.  Most experts recommend mixing about 1 cup of chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water. Scrub the affected area thoroughly. If your mixture becomes dirty, flush the remainder and create a new mix.

Remove Mold with Borax

Borax is a powerful cleaning agent that kills mold and inhibits mold growth. As it dries it leaves behind a powdery residue that repels mold.  Unlike bleach, it is chemical free and does not emit dangerous gases. You can use a borax-based cleaner or mix 1 cup borax with 1 gallon of hot water. Make sure the borax is fully dissolved, and apply the solution to the moldy area. Let it sit for a few minutes and then use a scrubbing brush or cloth to wipe the mold away.

Fall Back on Detergent and Water

If you don’t have bleach or borax available, good old-fashioned detergent and water may do the trick. It doesn’t kill the mold entirely, but it can help remove mold on non-porous surfaces.

Remember: Safety First

Keep in mind that as you use these techniques, you should also seal the area to prevent mold spores from traveling from room to room. The more you scrub, the more mold you disperse into the air. Be sure to wear safety goggles and cleaning gloves when removing mold.

Need Additional Help?

If none of these techniques work to remove the mold, then it may be time to call in the professionals.

Some companies specialize in mold removal and remediation, so they have trained technicians to remove even the most stubborn mold infestations. Additionally, local repair companies may be able to fix cracks and leaks that lead to mold. You may even consider purchasing a dehumidifying system to combat mold, mildew, and airborne spores.

Don’t let mold become a permanent guest in your home. With just a few simple steps, you can get rid of basement mold once and for all!

Where Should You Place Your Home’s Insulation?

Written by PermaDry on . Posted in Crawl Space

You’ve been a homeowner for a few years now. The initial excitement you felt at having your own place has faded, and now you’ve settled in to the benefits and frustrations that come along with property ownership.

By now you’ve realized that you’re responsible for a whole lot more than you imagined. If a major appliance breaks, you have to decide whether to repair or replace it (no more calls to the landlord). You start paying attention to your energy bill more closely than before.

And you start to wonder if your home is adequately insulated.

But do you know where your insulation should go? That’s all hidden away in unfamiliar areas of the house, like the crawl space or attic.

Clearly, it’s time to educate yourself on effective home insulation. A good place to begin is at the foundation; then you can make your way up to the roof.

What Lies Beneath

Before you became a homeowner, you may not have spared a thought toward the foundational crawl space of a house. Although crawl spaces can be situated both at the bottom of the house and under the roof, it’s fairly common for a house to have a sub-floor crawl space.

This area occupies the space between the ground and the bottom of your home. Generally, if you have a sub-floor crawl space, you won’t have a basement. And-as the name implies-a crawl space isn’t tall enough for person to stand up inside it.

Some crawl spaces have floors made from concrete; others have dirt or gravel. You can access this space through your home, generally through a trap door. Some homes access the crawl space from outside.

One advantage of a crawl space is that it allows your house sit above damp areas. That’s helpful if you live in a humid climate. Additionally, crawl spaces are cheaper to build than basements. It’s likely that most of your air ducts and plumbing pipes are here as well, making them easy to access.

It’s also an important location for insulation. Here’s why:

  • Proper insulation keeps moisture at bay.
  • Insulation can also repel pests.
  • Insulation can also repel pests.
  • The right depth and placement keeps your home more energy efficient.

So just what is the right placement?

When waterproofing and insulation installers look around the crawlspace, they’ll take note of vents, pipes, and ducts. All these areas require insulation. Another obvious location is the floor above, just between floor joists. It’s a good idea to use both insulation and moisture barriers to protect your home from mold.

Some installers prefer to insulate the foundational walls instead of the subfloor. In this way, they also protect sensitive pipes without needing to install much further insulation around the pipes themselves. However, it’s important to take care against invading moisture or pests from the outside.

Ask your installer about insulation that allows an airtight fit. This is the best protection from outside forces.

Vertical Spaces

Next, it’s important to assess your walls. The best time to do this, of course, is if you’re doing some other kind of renovation project where one wall is open to the studs. If you suspect your wall insulation is inadequate but you don’t want to dig into them to find out, ask your installer about blow-in insulation.

Blow-in insulation packs in insulation without a lot of fuss or cutting into walls. It works by injecting foam insulation into smaller holes that can be plastered over later.

If you have a basement instead of a crawl space, keep those walls well insulated. Your installer can recommend the best method.

On the Level

Do you have an un-insulated garage with a room just above it? If so, that room probably has a cold floor in the winter and a hot floor each summer. Look into better insulation.

First, it’s important to seal around vents and other places where air might rise into the room. Not only does this protect those in the

room from exhaust smells and other solvents or garage supplies, it creates an impermeable barrier so the floor insulation works more efficiently.

Think about your ceilings too, particularly if your home has an elevated (cathedral) ceiling. By insulating these level surfaces, you regulate temperature near the ceiling so it’s not much different from the ambient room temperature.

Lofty Thoughts

Last of all, take a look at your attic. This area has a lot of potential for energy loss. It’s relatively simple and inexpensive to install loose-fill insulation, which covers all areas well.

Before you order more, though, be certain the roof vents and fans operate properly. Create an airtight seal around them; then your insulation will work better.

Now that you know your home from bottom to top, you’ll be better prepared before your waterproofing and insulation specialist visits. Get ready to enjoy your newly insulated home, and stay comfortable in any condition!

Prepare Your Basement for Winter

Written by PermaDry on . Posted in Waterproofing your basement

The last thing you want to deal with during the busy winter season is your basement flooding. The increase of ice and cold can create leaks or cracks allowing moisture into your basement. If water enters your basement, you could face mold, mildew, or damage to stored items.

To avoid this, it’s important to prepare beforehand. Follow these small tips now so you can enjoy the holidays and keep your family safe. Here is how to prepare your basement for winter:

Look for Water around Basement Windows

Windows are a source for moisture to enter your home. After it rains, take a walk around the house to look for water near basement windows. Look for low spots in your lawn or pools of water around your basement window wells. Additionally, look for water running from the window. Any pools of water may cause problems if you have cracks in your foundation.

To avoid problems, look into replacing window wells. For an affordable, temporary fix you can purchase bubble window treatments.

Double-check Your Sump Pump    

Take a moment to look for pooling water around your sump pump hose. This might include dips in your basement floor that could cause water to collect. During the coldest part of the winter months, any sitting water can freeze and cause your sump pump to stop working. As a matter of fact, your discharge pump lines should be safe from any freezing water to safely pump water away from your foundation. In severe cases, frozen water may cause permanent damage to your sump pump.

Water should flow away from the pump without any complications. If you do encounter pooling water, call professionals to come repair the area.

Seal Cracks

Cracks on the exterior of your basement may allow water into your basement. This means during large storms of rain or snow, water may seep into cracks. During cold months, freezing water expands, causing the water in cracks to widen and/or allow moisture into your basement. This could cause mold, which contaminates your basement’s ventilation and air quality.

To protect your basement, look for cracks in your foundation before the winter months. If you have experience filling cracks, you can use silicone or hydraulic cement to fill cracks smaller than two millimeters. If you haven’t filled foundation cracks before, please call a professional. Further damage can come from inexperienced people trying a do-it-yourself job.

Shovel Snow away from Your Home

After a snowfall or freezing rain storm, clear snow and ice as soon as possible. This will help you avoid ice accumulating near your foundation. You do not want water to freeze and melt near your foundation. Water that leaks into your basement foundation cracks may widen the cracks and cause further damage.

Additionally, as you shovel snow or chisel ice, push the it away from your home. You want to avoid piling snow or ice against your foundation. Doing so will help keep moisture away from your basement.

Remove Debris from Gutters

Before winter weather comes, clear gutters and roof drains of leaves or other debris. Any object that blocks water in these areas may cause water to overflow into the soil surrounding your home. The water in your soil may leak into your basement foundation.

Look for fall leaves left in your rain gutters or roof drains that may create barriers for running water. Additionally, trees on your property may cause fall leaves to accumulate in drains and gutters. Likewise, if you have evergreen trees, they may leave pine needles around your area that also clog these areas.

As a rule of thumb, water should drain at least five feet from your home’s foundation.

Prepare Pipes for Winter Freeze

Frozen water expands and puts pressure on pipes. This means if water freezes in your pipes, the water expands and may cause or widen cracks. Even minor cracks can create major flooding problems. For example, a small crack in a household pipe can leak 250 gallons of water a day. That much water can cause a major flood.

To protect your pipes from freezing you need to keep cold air from accessing them. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Wrap pipes with heat tape or cables.
  • Insulate your basement.
  • Drip warm water from the faucet overnight.
  • In bathrooms, leave cabinet doors open to allow heat near pipes.

Check Your Humidity Levels

If you find your basement has poor drainage or high humidity levels, you may want to look into waterproofing your basement. This will prevent water damage that may occur during the winter season.

You can check humidity levels with a humidistat. Make sure levels are lower than 50 percent, otherwise your basement is prone to mold growth or structural damage. If you have high humidity, you can waterproof your basement, or for a quick fix, use a dehumidifier.

Don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber or waterproofer for help. He or she can help if you experience any leaks or flooding in your basement. You may also want to ask expert advice to avoid flooding before the cold winter months. The more you do now to dehumidify your home the more you can enjoy the holidays.

Now that you know how to get your basement ready for the winter months, check out our other blogs for more basement tips and tricks.

How to Protect Your Seattle Home from Water Damage

Written by PermaDry on . Posted in Sump Pumps

In Seattle, we’re not afraid of a little rain. But rain can bring an unwanted risk with it: water damage in your basement or crawl space. A particularly heavy rain can flood your basement, but even light water buildup can cause water damage.

People worry about flooding and water damage in many places, but since Seattle gets a lot of rain, we worry about it a little more here. Fortify your home against the rain by waterproofing your basement and crawl space-if you do, you’ll avoid a disaster like a wet or damaged basement.

Here’s what you should do.

Install a Basement Drainage System

Hopefully you already have some kind of basement drainage system in place. This might include a

Keep It Clean: 5 Things Every Homeowner Should Do To Keep Crawl Spaces Under Control

Written by PermaDry on . Posted in Crawl Space

Leaks, dirt, dust, and mold all plague the infamous crawl space stereotype. In fact, the half basement terror even inspired a horror movie, but don’t let your crawl space turn into a place you avoid at all costs. A crawl space gives you a convenient place for storage. But if you want to use this area for storage, you won’t have much luck using a messy crawl space. Which means you first have to clean it up.

Take these essential steps to get a cleaner, functional crawl space:

1. Get Your Crawl Space Checked By A Professional.

Before you try and take a sledge hammer to your basement floor, consider calling a professional. Their experience and expertise can go a long way when it comes to

Remodeling Your Basement: Questions for your Contractor

Written by PermaDry on . Posted in Waterproofing your basement

So you’re going to do it, make that cold dark unfinished basement a living and usable part of your home. This is a great idea and one of the best improvements you could make in your home. Every 1,000 square feet added living space to a home boosts the sale price by more than 30 percent, according to the 2005 study for the National Association of Realtors. But a basement remodel is more than a little framing, paint and carpet. What keeps basement remodels on track and valuable is to have a plan and ensure you check out some of the more important aspects of what could go wrong.

Who is the contractor?

Are you doing the work, acting as the general, or are you hiring a general contractor to act on your behalf? A contractor sets the schedule, gets the right people in at the right time and

The Problem with Pests: Why You Should Do Something About It

Written by PermaDry on . Posted in Pests and Rodents

With the exception of the cute, tamed rats you can find in any pet store, the common rat is not a welcome guest in your home.

These pesky pests burrow, gnaw, and squeeze into your home through the tiniest cracks, and then they wreak havoc on your home’s insulation, electrical systems, and foundation. Some species breed year-round, and if the conditions are right, a pair of rats could potentially produce a colony of 2,000 rats in a year.

If you suspect your home has rats or mice, it’s important to deal with the problem quickly before they cause some serious damage.

What Harm Do They Cause?

Rats might not be big in size (on average), but together, a colony of rats can put your health and

10 Home Repairs You Should Never Put Off

Written by PermaDry on . Posted in Foundation Cracks, Waterproofing your basement

A home is one of the largest investment people make in their lives. You should invest time and money into your home to prevent costly repairs down the line. Here are 10 home repairs that you really can’t afford to ignore.

1. Protect Your Foundation

A crack in the foundation can threaten your home’s structure and value. If your doors aren’t shutting like they used to, that’s a good sign your foundation may have moved. Inspect the foundation along the

Inspections: A Boon to Your Basement

Written by PermaDry on . Posted in Waterproofing your basement

A basement remodel is a fantastic idea. If you are reading this blog you are probably considering finishing or remodeling your basement— and we think you should go for it! After all, a basement remodel has a wealth of benefits, including:

  • Greater home value
  • More useable space
  • Higher home resell value
  • Improved home energy efficiency
  • Better home functionality

Your home will become better and more valuable once you have completed a basement remodel. But before you strap on your tool belt and get to work, slow down and consider having a

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