Whether something’s gone wrong in your basement or not, there’s no harm in scheduling a basement inspection. These inspections are designed to help you keep your Virginia Beach, VA, home as safe and dry as possible. But what, exactly, are contractors looking for while they’re exploring the nooks and crannies of your basement
Joints and Cracks
Basement repair contractors will start inspecting your basement by looking for obvious damage near the joints of your foundation or cracks. The types of cracks a practiced contractor knows to look for include:
- Horizontal cracks: Horizontal cracks tend to form in your foundation or basement when your home’s been exposed to extensive hydrostatic pressure. This pressure builds up outside the home after it rains.
- Vertical cracks: Vertical cracks form in your foundation and basement when the contractor who built your home used inappropriate materials, like green wood, as supports.
- Diagonal cracks: Diagonal cracks form for the same reasons horizontal cracks do, but they tend to be wider on one side than the other. This is because a diagonal crack is a sign that one side of your house may be exposed to more hydrostatic pressure than the other.
- Stair-step cracks: If you have a brick-and-mortar foundation, hydrostatic pressure will force cracks to form along your mortar lines.
A crack in your basement is a sign of a foundational problem, but it doesn’t necessarily constitute a leak. However, a cracked basement is all the more likely to leak, as water can get into your home more easily.
During an inspection, basement repair contractors will be able to distinguish between a cracked basement and a leaking basement by looking for signs of water damage. Other symptoms of a leaking basement that both you and a contractor can keep a lookout for include:
- Dropping basement temperatures
- Fogged-up windows
- Sticking doors
- Warped or damaged belongings
- Unpleasant smells
Now, let’s look at what else basement repair specialists will check for in your home:
The State of Your Sump Pump
If you haven’t invested in waterproofing solutions in the past, then you may not have a sump pump to inspect. If you do have a sump pump on your property, however, a thorough basement repair contractor will want to take a look at it, regardless of whether or not your basement shows signs of a leak.
By inspecting your sump pump, a basement repair contractor will be able to determine how hard the pump has to work to keep water out of your home. If it’s done a fine job in the past but is suddenly acting up, your contractor may be able to identify any blockages or other developments that are keeping your pump from working appropriately.
Basement repair contractors aren’t plumbers, but that doesn’t mean they won’t take a look at your plumbing. Pipes that have burst or otherwise been damaged by long-term exposure to dampness, after all, can potentially make leaks in your basement worse.
The pipes in your basement can be damaged in one of two ways. They can either be leaking as a result of environmental disruption or they can be clogged. Your basement repair inspector will be able to find a leak without the help of any additional tools. However, if you’ve noticed your water pressure dropping off at odd moments, say something. A contractor will be able to test the water pressure throughout your home and let you know if something’s amiss.
Insulation does more than just keep your home warm in the wintertime. It serves as a physical barrier between your home and the world outside. Insulation can keep pests, and most importantly, water away from your belongings. As such, if it is possible, a basement inspector is going to take a look at your insulation.
There’s no need to bring any special tools to this part of the inspection. An experienced contractor will be able to tell you whether or not your insulation needs replacing based on a visual inspection alone. However, if you suspect that mold may have settled in your insulation, it’s best to let your inspector know. Under these unique circumstances, an inspector can bring additional tools to the job and recommend immediate removal, if necessary.
Structural or Foundation Problems
Basement repair contractors should also look closely at the footing and foundation of your home during an inspection, even if you’re just worried that you may have a leak in your basement. Sometimes, the leaks you think are only present at a surface level are much more severe than they appear. An inspector will let you know whether or not your home is structurally secure and will be able to advise you on next steps if things are more complicated than they appear.
Previous Waterproofing Work
If you’ve worked with a basement repair and waterproofing company before, it’s best to try and work with an inspector who’s affiliated with that company. That way, the inspector can take a look at your installed waterproofing solutions during a basement inspection.
Few of the waterproofing solutions you can use around your home are permanent. French drains will need parts repaired, temporary sealants need to be replaced every year or two, and even drainage tiles can suffer damage if they’ve been working overtime. When you bring someone who’s experienced with your home in to take a look at your basement, they’ll be able to let you know whether or not it’s time for a tune-up.
Don’t feel intimidated the next time you schedule a free basement inspection. A practiced inspector will be able to walk you through the process of keeping your home dry while also advising you on best practices – repairs or otherwise — for the future.