Basement Remodeling: Pre-Finishing and Preparation steps.

Over the past few years I’ve seen more and more problems with wet basements and more and more of them are happening in fully finished basements. The homeowner in many cases stated “it was a dry basement, we’d never seen water until today” which is very true in most cases.

There are two facts about basements that we currently have to live with:

1.) All concrete will and can crack
2.) All basements will and eventually leak

These are two very hard things for most people to understand. We’re all in denial about bad choices that we’ve made in the past and not preparing your basement before you finish could be one that you could very well have to own in the near future.

The thing is that this lesson is totally preventable. Preparing your basement is much like prepping a patient for surgery. You can’t just throw them into the ER; you have to go through a series of steps before they’re ready.

With the basement, regardless of if you’ve ever seen water, water in its gas form (vapor) can travel through concrete quite easily. Airflow brings it into your home in your basement and then helps it to travel up into the home eventually. Increased amounts of humidity and an increase in a need to run you’re A/C are two signs that you might have a moisture control problem. There are other signs that you might come across as well such as condensation, puddle-ing, and damp walls.

Don’t think for a second because you’ve never had water on your floor that your basement won’t ever leak.

The first step in finishing your basement is to install a moisture control system that will reduce the amount of moisture vapor build up in the basement, protect from leaks and flooding and dehumidification to help circulate the air and filter it.

From here you’ll be working with a clean slate that’s protected and ready to be finished over.


People do flood in Rochester, New York


If you're in Buffalo, Rochester, or Syracuse, New York, get in touch with Crawford Basements . They'll be able to help you select and install a battery back up sump pump system in your basement or crawl space to help keep you from flooding.

Cracking down on Illegal Sump Pump Discharge Hook ups

It sounds like it should be something that's not a "big deal", right?

Well from the loads that many homes put on the city septic and sewer systems by adding discharge from their sump pumps some cities such as Saugus, MA have have enough and are cracking down on illegal sump pumps.

Similar laws are sprinkled thoughout New England because the majority of our septic and sewer systems are rather old and aren't able to function with the current and expanding population numbers.

If you have a sump pump connected to a septic line or a sewer line in your home I HIGHLY recommend you fix that. Cap off the existing connection and let it discharge outside. If you need help designing a discharge line, shoot me a line and I can do what I can.

When/if your septic/sewer line backs up you could received raw sewage in your basement. Please take this seriously and correct your connections

Storm Ready Basements: Generators vs. Battery Back up Sump pumps.

Pioneer Basement has always suggested battery back up sump pump units be installed when you have a waterproofing system installed. It’s good common sense. If your power goes out you have a window of safe operating time until you need your power turned back on or emergency service. Keeping your basement from getting wet is a top priority.

However, it is still highly recommended that you also have a generator for your home.

If I’m already protected with a battery back up sump pump, why should I get a generator?

A totally reasonable question. If your battery back up unit has 1 or more batteries that are chained together to provide you with power, simply weigh your options. What’s the back up time on that battery? 7, 8, 16 hours?

If a battery has a limited operating time to provide power a generator can add to that protection. Most battery back up sump pump units use AC power when the power is on in the home and automatically switches to Battery Power once the power is out. By having a generator you allow your battery back up to stay charged longer and continue to run off AC power.

A battery provides a finite amount of power for a finite amount of time. It’s always best to have another plan. Generators are good for the whole home, not just for the sump pump.

Why buy a battery back up then if I’m going to be protected with a Generator?

Another excellent question. Generators also have limits. Most have fuel that needs to be added and can only maintain a particular power level for so long. Once the fuel runs out, the power it can generate runs out. You still need a battery back up sump pump in this case to run off battery power rather then just fully rely on AC power to operate.

With these past storms Pioneer Basement had many customers call whom still required battery back up units. Some of whom called with water in their basements now realizing that it’s a smart choice to have a battery operated sump pump installed.

Now, granted, most places don’t lose power for over 8 hours, however there were places in New Hampshire, Vermont and Northern Massachusetts these past two weeks that did loose power for over that time. The combination of Generator and Battery Back ups can give you a better fighting chance than just relying on an AC power sump pump alone.

Safety Tips for Dealing with Generators:
*like any type of motor powered equipment that emits CO2, run it outside. By running a generator in the basement with the windows closed you’re introducing carbon monoxide into the air supply. Basically it’s the same with running your car in a closed garage.

*When running an electrical line make sure that it’s properly insulated and that there are no kinks in the line and that the entire cord is covered with the plastic. (i.e. make sure there aren’t any cuts or openings you could walk on or touch while your generator is running.)

*When refueling the generator make sure to wear eye-protection and gloves to protect your hands. Make sure to turn the unit off when refueling to protect you and your home from a fire hazard.


Foundation repair and Crack Repair: problems with thought

So the other day we had our crack repair specialists at Rescon Basement Solutions come out to give a short history and practice lesson on crack repair, do and don't, as well as styles and filling types. For those of you who are slightly obsessed with foundation repair I'm sure you would have enjoyed it. However, for homeowners it might have been quite boring lol.

Ether way it brought up, in conjunction with a few Pioneer Forum posts, the stigma that many homeowners have about basement wall crack repairs: "well if I fix the crack, I solve the water problem".

This is wrong. Dead wrong.

Crack repair is for repairing walls. If used in conjunction with piering or wall anchoring you have some rather robust foundation repair solutions. But by no means is filling a crack the "end all be all" solution for moisture control for a whole basement.

I write more about it on the forums and my blog at pioneer basement.


Basement Finishers in CT, MA, RI: All the same?

I think one of the more common questions as of late has been "can you compare your finishing system to the Owens Corning system?" Technically...when I'm at work...I can't.

However, this is MY blog, and I'll tell you what's up.

Here I talk a little about the Pioneer Home Basement Finishing "system" called BasementShield.

Here's a list of things that Make BasementShield better/different than The Owens Corning Finishing system:

1.) Water and moisture control is included. Owens Corning, as of this past year finally got a grip and started outsourcing to Basement Systems dealers basements with water problems. HOWEVER, because they outsource this will add an additional 6,000-$16,000 on top of the OC's $50,000 price tag.

2.) Because our walls are made with mold and mildew resistant material that's just as strong as Drywall, you get a finished feel that's similar to upstairs. The walls are designed with traditional studs that won't rot, insulation and are combined with the moisture control system installed to fully protect your basement.

3.) Ceiling and Flooring options are INCLUDED in the price you get! This is something that OC hasn't ever done.

4.) Our system is custom. Design what you want, paint it, wall paper it, custom trim, built in storage..you name it, it can be installed! OC worries about your 4 perimeter walls which come in 1 color and tell you "the color will change with the carpet you put down." *sigh*

5.) Recessed lighting, electrical can be customised for your needs and design ideas.

6.) All of the products are non-organic, which means that mold and mildew can't use them as a food source.

7.) Most designs can be constructed in the same amount of time as an OC system, for thousands of dollars less than Owens Corning.

The Pioneer Home Basement Finishing system is the best, most cost effective, efficient, customisable and protected system on the market today.


Twitter, Blogging, and Basement Info

So there are some new things that I'm doing to try to keep the new info coming to you, my readers, and to new and potential customers of Pioneer Basement.

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BasementGods
I'm attempting to keep up a "basement tip of the day" and give you insite as to how to look at your basement differently, work, live in, and protect that space and your home.

Pioneer Basement@wordpress.com has been moving and shaking recently. Just did a seemingly popular blog about Field Stone Foundations and how to keep them up, waterproof them and so on. Let me know what you think!

Today: I just placed another bit in the "tips and tricks" catagory in the Pioneer Basement Forums/Help Forums as well as wrote a little piece on finishing your basement for the expanding family (especially around the holidays) http://www.pioneerbasement.com/forum/blog.php?b=24

So I'm keeping busy. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! and keep safe and keep dry!


Basement Finishing and Remodeling Design Tip


I'm planning on adding many more tips and tricks for thinking differently in the basement.

It's important to realize that the moisture levels in the basement are higher and therefore you have to use different materials to build in a basement.

If you think different, build different, you change your basement and still have a healthy and successful area.


Glenn Fellman of the IAQA answers Air Quality Question about a Homeowners Basement Finishing Problem


<--Question is:
“I recently waterproofed and remodeled my basement due to water
seepage/damage. While the basement was gutted, there seemed to be no odor but
since the new carpet, drywall, etc. has been installed, there is now a stench
residing in my basement. Because I know that there is no water leakage, I
purchased a dehumidifier for the basement. Although the basement smells better,
the stench now fills my upper level. The weird thing about it is that my windows
are open, and of course, there is no heat/air running, so I am curious as to why
it is now smelling up the upper level. Any comments or suggestions would be
greatly appreciated."

Dawn McAfee
Louisville, Tenn.

A: “If there had
been a leak, there may be mold in the basement that is causing the odor,” said
Glenn Fellman, executive director of the Indoor Air Quality Association, in Rockville, MD. “Mold colonizes behind walls, under flooring and in other hidden
areas, he said. Mold may have been disturbed during the renovation, allowing it
to become airborne and dispersed throughout the home,” he said.

"Another possible source of odor may be the new materials used for waterproofing and remodeling, he said. Epoxy, glue and water-proofing products may emit odor-producing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). There may also be VOC emissions from new carpet and other furnishings, he said. A dehumidifier will only remove moisture, not odors.”

"You might want to try using a room air cleaner that incorporates a
carbon pre-filter and primary HEPA filter to reduce the odors in the short-term.
Long-term, you need to identify and eliminate the source of the odor," Fellman

“Because I know that there is no water leakage, I purchased a dehumidifier for the basement.”
The problem with this statement is he has utter trust in the waterproofing product/company that served him. While trust is good, protection is better. Knowing you’ve had leaks warrants the installation of wall protection as well as a drain system. Many people finish off with no wall protection and their leak situation changes. So behind walls that they can’t see behind resides and unsolved basement wall leak that they thought, “Could never happen.”

“so I am curious as to why it is now smelling up the upper level?”
This is because of a change in pressure in the home referred to as “Stack Effect.” What happens is that air flows from the basement up to the 1st floor as it warms up. This air now creates a void in the basement, which pulls air through the foundation walls from the soil and the outside to fill it. The air from the first floor and 2nd floors eventually moves through the walls and windows to the outside which continues the cycle and pulls the air from the basement all over again. Any smell that’s occurring in your basement will eventually occur in your first floor. If you want to test this, spill a small amount of bleach at the bottom of the steps in your basement and wait. You’ll eventually smell the bleach on your first floor because of the air movement in the home. (You don’t need to use bleach, but something smelly like Lysol or Febreze might work just as well)

I can’t find one point to disagree with Glenn Fellman on, well done!

It does bring up the point of epoxies and glues used in waterproofing a basement. If a smell is persisting more then a day or so, there’s something wrong. Contact your waterproofing company to verify.

I personally don’t suggest the use of anything that gives off VOCs, especially any sealants. Some vapor barriers require a bit of epoxy just at the top to seal off the system and secure it to the foundation, but the odors from that are mild and shouldn’t persist past the first 24 hours.

If you’re concerned about VOCs there are plenty of low to non-VOC finishing options out there. But be prepared to pay a little more for them. They’re worth it if you’re worried about your air quality; at least that’s how I feel. No VOC paint has come down drastically in price over the past few months and the chemistry leaves a perfect painted finished coat on your walls.


Water coming through walls in the basement

Oddly enough this is a very common problem. Having water come through the foundation walls in your basement is something that can happen to anyone, even with someone with great landscaping outside of their homes and proper backfill around their home.

The main issue here is that concrete is a porous material. It has the ability to absorb water. So when water comes into contact with dry concrete it gets absorbed into it and eventually fills up the pores inside of the concrete. These tiny pores are left behind from the water evaporating out of the concrete during the curing or drying process. Affectionately called microcosms, they have very thin separations of concrete between them. As the water is absorbs, the water molecules build up and create pressure. This pressure helps to break through these pore separations.

Eventually all basements leak. Once the pressure builds up enough, or the water works its way through the series of pores, it can break through and enter your basement from your wall.

Another, more obvious and easy, way for water to enter your basement is through foundation issues such as cracks or separations.

These cracks and separations occur for a number of reasons, but the problem comes from the water on your floor.

Waterproofing and Foundation repair are two ways to remedy these two situations that can allow for water to start piling up in your basement.

If you’re looking for foundation repair or waterproofing in your area:
www.nawsrc.org (national association for waterproofing and structural repair contractors)
www.pioneerbasement.com (MA, CT, RI, waterproofing and structural repair)
www.basementdepot.com (diy waterproofing supplies and crack repair products)
www.GrateProducts.com (a national waterproofing product and supply company; highly recommended for contractors)


Basement Blogs: Why I write my blog, basements and all

I’m rather disappointed, personally, on the lack of answers that I find while surfing the web about basements. Everyone has an opinion about what company you should be going with or how to pick a contractor (which in the end always feels slanted towards the company that suggested the “check list”) but it doesn’t seem like many companies are making an effort to really talk about the problems, causes, and the solutions.

Over the past few months I’ve been making a direct effort to answer questions posed to me through email, through talks with homeowners and (the more tricky way) through the Google Search questions people have found my blog with.

People come to my blog for many reason: Finding DIY Tips about how to finish or waterproof a basement, ideas about finishing, design tips, waterproofing questions, price shopping, or just a place to come and read about someone who’s obviously obsessed with everyone else’s basements.

Along the way I’ve met some interesting people and hopefully some good friends.

I look forward to the next year in writing and communicating news and information about basements, foundations, waterproofing, and finishing in hopes that you can walk away confident that you know whom to call, what the answer to your personal question was, or possibly a suggestion for your own design project.

I’m not the DIY network or Bob Villa, so my expertise is pretty limited in that "home repair god" regards, but I’m confident that I can answer your questions about basements, foundations, waterproofing, crack repair, and basement finishing.

The basement isn’t the same as the 1st and 2nd floors and by now I hope you understand that. It needs special attention to handle the moisture and special attention to the products and techniques in installing a finished product.

If you have any questions you can leave them in a comment, email me directly, or link to me somewhere on the web. I also Moderate the Pioneer Basement Waterproofing Forums as well as the hang out around the NAWSRC.org and BasementDepot.com forums as well.

Follow me on Twitter: BasementGods
Follow me on Wordpress: PioneerBasement

Any question, any time, I have your back when it comes to your basement.


Fun Basement Idea Poll on Pioneer Basement Forums

So since it’s raining rather hard here today in Westport, I’ve decided to do some outreach and pose some questions to the customers of Pioneer Basement.

What is in your basement?

What do you WANT in your basement?

Two very simple, but fun questions. Most homeowners don’t like talking about what’s down in the basement now, laundry piles, an odd workbench, or even maybe nothing at all.

But when you pose the question of “what do you WANT?” then a whole other side of many homeowners comes out: The Creative/FUN side.

Pool tables, fancy storage, a real creative place to paint or make furniture, recording studios, movie rooms, bathrooms, game rooms, bed rooms, toy storage, gyms, Jacuzzis, computer rooms, home offices, hobby rooms, you name it people have thought it up.

And the great thing is: Any of it can happen with a little planning and some proper design.


Home Improvement in this current Economy

Continued Weaknesses in Housing and the Overall Economy Result in Two Years of Market Declines
The home improvement market hadn’t seen a decline since 1991. In the HIRI/Global Insight home improvement products market forecast update of August 2008, we now have revised estimated declines of both 0.7% in 2007 and 3.1% in 2008. The estimate for 2008 sales was lowered by $5.3 billion from the previous forecast (February 2008) to $296.8 billion. The updated 2007 forecast for the market came in at $306.2 billion, a downward revision of just $0.5 billion. The continued downturn in the housing market coupled with..
Full story: http://www.hiri.org/inside.asp?id=21

Deciding to Protect your Basement

Basement repairs of any kind can be some of the toughest choices to make as a homeowner. They aren’t something that is common knowledge, they aren’t something that’s discussed on many DIY television shows, and they are not normally “easy fixes”.

Things like re-pointing foundations, crack repair, waterproofing, foundation correction (ie: piering and wall anchoring) aren’t things that should ever be considered Do-it-yourself projects. They all have potentially hazardous implications if done improperly. It’s always better to let a company carry the liability of a poor job then that of your bank account.

Mold, Radon, Leaks, Cracks, leaking bulkheads, rotted window sills, humidity, moisture and water problems all fall under normal things that many people have to deal with in their basement on a daily basis.

The question is: are you ready to decide to protect your basement and therefore protect your home?


Basement Waterproofing is insurance for Basement Finishing

You might wonder, “What does waterproofing have to do with finishing your basement?” however, waterproofing your basement protects your remodeling investment.

Home improvements of all shapes and sizes cost money and the last thing you want to do is to jeopardize the longevity of that project. Not waterproofing your basement and installing moisture control can have serious long-term effects on your finished product.

A typical basement finishing project can run anywhere from $25,000 to well over $100,000 depending on floor plan, details, amenities, and difficulty. There are many different “finishing systems” out there that claim to be “waterproof” or “removable in case of flooding” but what’s the point of spending money on walls in a basement if you have to remove them in order to keep them dry?

Lets say you choose do have wood studs and regular styled drywall in the basement. Both are organic materials that easily soak up moisture and water. Mold and rotting wood are the next logical steps if a flood happens or a small leak gets out of control. You spent $25,000 on that project and you’re going to have to spend at least 1/4th of it just to repair it. Bringing your total project cost to now $30,000.

You wouldn’t buy a car and not protect it, don’t finish your basement without defending against moisture and flooding.

What if you could spend $25,000 to not only have moisture control, dehumidification, air circulation, water and flooding protection, have it all warranted, and have your basement finished? Wouldn’t that be smarter? Having it all done with mold and moisture resistant materials with the look and feel of your first floor is easier than you think.

You would actually be buying a finishing system that has your basement’s health in mind. You would actually be truly finishing your basement. You’d be transforming your basement from a moisture zone to a controllable, healthy, comfortable environment.

With waterproofing your walls, your floor, your whole finished area would be protected. With the proper finishing materials and design your finished space will be exactly what you dreamed it could be, and it’ll all be well protected from flooding and moisture.

Call Pioneer Home Basement Finishing today: 1-800-439-0788
Or visit us online: www.homebasementfinishing.com


Wet Basements in New England, CT, MA, RI: How water gets into your basement

It’s rainy weather like today’s (cloudy and raining all over Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts, I’m sure that Connecticut saw it earlier) that will eventually remind many homeowners how important having a dry basement is. Having a wet basement can be aggravating. Many people get down on their hands and knees to sop up water with sponges, buckets and wet-vacs.

The fact of the mater is having a wet basement isn’t your fault. It’s a design flaw in how basements are built. The good news is you can have someone inspect your basement, and install something that addresses these flaws head on.

Water can find it’s way through the space between the footing and wall:
When a wall is made the footing is poured first and left to dry. They form it around 2x4 in order to achieve a “dove tale” so the wall poured on top of it dries with part of it’s support inside of the footing. The problem is that the concrete can’t connect. If one object is dry, a wet concrete object can’t merge with it and become one solid piece. There’s a natural space left between the two objects. This space is an easy route for water to press through and find itself ether on your floor, underneath your floor, or wicking up your walls.

Water can settle under your concrete Floor:
Wet basements can also happen with water seeping up from underneath the floor. When a foundation’s walls are finished the Contractor “back-fills” or fills in the open areas with dirt, stone or gravel. Your floor of your basement rests on back fill. Depending on what was used for back fill it can be easy or hard for water to sit, build pressure, and find holes and gaps to seep up from. Cracks in the floor or the gap between the floor and the wall are the two most common areas this water shows itself.

Water can come through cracks in your foundation walls:
Cracks happen to all concrete eventually. There are many factors that can cause cracks in concrete but the one thing that can exploit these small tares in your walls is water. When it rains outside the soil soaks up the amount of water it can handle, the rest is left to fend for itself and find places to fill up. When water finds a crack in your wall it can “sense” the pressure difference in the basement and seeks to occupy the open space. Depending on the amount of water and pressure build up outside, the water can dribble, seep, or pour through cracks.

Addressing all three possibilities is the key to success:
Now the major issue is finding something that tackles all three, looks good, doesn’t interfere with your use of the basement, and protects you for the life of the house. The GrateDrain system by Grate Products LLC is that system. The combination of Wall Protection, Crack Repair, a Duel Channel drain to address both directions of water flow, and a GrateSump to relieve pressure under the floor and remove the water in the drains are the way to go.

The GrateDrain is designed to remove water from under the floor and defend against that water building up over time. With a solid wall in the middle of the drain it can separately address the water coming from the wall behind the wall protection and the water coming between the footing and the wall. The GrateSump, where the sump pump is installed, will add extra support for water build up under the floor at a deeper level as well as provide the exit strategy for the water in the drain.

The GrateDrain is a flawless, seamless, closed system to protect your basement from ever being wet again. Basements in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have been receiving help from Pioneer Basement for over 25 years (a GrateDrain Installer!). If you have a wet basement and need help, if you have dreams of finishing but need to get water under control, then look no further; Pioneer Basement is here to help.

For basement waterproofing, or wet basement help in CT, MA, or RI, call:
1-800-649-6140 or visit Pioneer Basement online: www.pioneerbasement.com


DIY Basement Waterproofing.

It’s a wonderful day an age where most projects in the home are considered DIY (do-it-yourself). However, being that I’m personally familiar with the complexities of basement waterproofing, when people ask me “do you know of any DIY Basement Waterproofing kits?” I sadly can’t help but laugh.

Every project that I’ve seen done DIY to waterproof a basement has failed. Paints, Sealants, make-shift sump pump “cut outs” with wood hole covers, drilled holes in the concrete floor, the list just gets more horrific with every passing week it seems.

The reason I stress that Basement Waterproofing shouldn’t be a DIY project is because it’s dealing directly with the support network for your whole home: The Foundation.

Basement waterproofing, when done properly in the interior of the basement, requires that you remove part of the floor next to the wall. You do this to uncover the footing of the home. A drain is placed along the footing, pitched and eventually will connect to a sump basin that cannot be more than 19” deep. Any deeper and you can disrupt the soil underneath the footing and possibly undermining the foundation (causing it to callapse).

If you’re hell bent on doing the project yourself take into consideration the following ideas in planning your diy waterproofing project:

1.) Materials: there are only a few drains out there that redirect water from both the wall/footing direction and from underneath the slab. Most drains do one or the other, not both

2.) Standard sump basins are too deep. This can seriously cause foundation issues down the road.

3.) Sealents and Paints don’t work. Both are not true vapor barriers and both will not lead the water properly to a drain system. Consider the use of a full wall protection Vapor Barrier like HD TuffSheild.

4.) If any drain has holes smaller than 1.25” x .75” don’t use them. They’re apt to clogging and bacteria build up. Most of the black corrugated piping clogs easier and is much more uncontrollable once you put it in the floor. Punched drain holes are better than drilled drain holes for the same reasons.

5.) If you can’t find these parts on your own you can try a place like Basement Depot in order for find the proper materials.

Products I know to meet these above standards: GrateDrain, GrateSump, Various Vapor Barriers, and all of these can be found through Pioneer Basement or other Grate Products Installers / Dealers


America's Toughest Jobs: FINAL SHOW!: BEN COLEMAN!

I know it's only Thursday, but I'm excited.

Ben came in the office the other day and is also anxious to see this all come to an end. He's been so good at not telling us how the story ends, so I'm sure he's ready to let out and tell us everything.

Saturday on NBC 8pm is the final round. 4 contestants, 3 of the toughest jobs, and Ben Coleman, my friend and co-worker is one of the final 4.

It's hard to imagine him as anything but a hard worker. I've known him for quite some time, seeing him work for Pioneer Basement, work for other construction crews, and then come back to Pioneer Basement. He's an ethical, logical, and hard working man who cares about what he does, helping people and helping people save their homes.

Anyone who reads this, I urge you to route for Ben Coleman on this Final Show of America's Toughest Jobs, this Saturday at 8pm!! ON NBC!

If you are a customer of Pioneer's or want to send a comment directly, please post on our forums!:

Wicking, Seepage and Cracks: Basement Waterproofing

Wicking, seepage and cracks are the three major ways that water finds its way into your basement.

Wicking is the process of water absorbing its way up an object. You can see this by cutting a small strip of paper and dipping it in a glass of water. As you hold it the water travels up the paper, filling up the gaps and creating a chain against gravity. The good news is it can only get so far without needing extra pressure to push it higher.

Seepage is a term to describe water that drizzles in through separations in the floor, footing and walls of your basement. Seepage is normally a sign of pressure or extreme separations.

Cracks tend to be more obvious. They can happen in the floor, the wall or the footing. Cracks are caused by settling, soil expanding against the wall, heavy impact, roots, or as the case is with floors typically, hydrostatic pressure (which is the pressure an amount of water has on an object; more water, more pressure).

Wicking can only be stopped by two methods:
1.) The entire foundation, footing included is wrapped in a non-porous material, such as plastic.
2.) The footing and the walls are made out of a non-porous material.
Typically, wrapping and damp-proofing the foundation is done at construction. So if you have water coming in your basement currently and it’s 5 years old, or older, chances are your home isn’t damp-proofed.

Seepage can be addressed by giving the water a place to go, rather than coming up on your floor. Typically this is where drains come in. It allows the water an easy route of passage and “tricks” it to following the drain into a sump where it’s removed by a pump. Easy, right? Large amounts of water can build up in these small separations between the floor and the footing and the wall, this can cause back ups and water can still jump up to your floor, even with just a drain.

Cracks, being caused by water under the floor, or pressure outside the walls can be repaired. The caused of the cracks can also be further addressed. Vapor barriers for the walls and a split channel design drain can handle both. It’ll remove water from under the slab and relieve pressure. The Vapor Barrier can stop the jumps of water in the seepage scenario and correctly direct it to the drain.

All three problems can be solved by one proper basement waterproofing system solution.

For more information on how to get GrateDrain in Massachusetts, Connecticut or Rhode Island, Contact Pioneer Basement @ 1-800-649-6140 or on-line http://www.pioneerbasement.com/

For all other states in the United States, Canada and the UK please direct your questions to GrateProducts LLC @ http://www.grateproducts.com/


Ben Coleman, Tonight on NBC's America's Toughest Jobs!

Not many people actually know that I've Known Ben Coleman for years. We met while I was in college and now we both work for Pioneer Basement Waterproofing in Westport, MA. Like his profile on ATJ's says, he was my go to guy. We enjoy the same music, we're both very political and articulate, and I can't say how excited I am for him in this Nation Wide Opertunity.

A few months ago he was cast to appear on a show called America's Toughest Jobs which is on NBC tonight at 8pm.

From what I understand tonight is either the last show or the next to last. Either way I wanted people to know that you can catch up on past episodes online, view his profile and if you're really into it, give him a shout tell him that you're a reader of mine who is routing for him.

So on behalf of everyone at Pioneer Basement, myself, my house-hold and my close group of friends: GOOD LUCK BEN!!!!!! WE HAVE FAITH!!!

Ben on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/benisaruckus
Ben's "meet me" page on America's Toughest Jobs: http://www.nbc.com/Americas_Toughest_Jobs/contestants/ben.shtml


Are Tenants Responsible for Mold Damage in Rhode Island Rentals?

This is another post dedicated to questions that have lead people to my blog and not finding anything that connected to their exact question about their home, construction, or basement project. In hopes that this information can be helpful to a person in Rhode Island dealing with a mold issue in their basement, I've posted this blog.

According to a renter’s hand book distributed by the University of Rhode Island:

Page 11:
“A tenant must comply with required State and local health and safety code standards. The rental unit and shared interior/exterior areas must be kept clean and safe from hazards. The garbage, rubbish, and other wastes must removed from the unit (as necessary) and disposed of in a proper manner. The plumbing fixtures and facilities must be kept in a clean and satisfactory condition. All electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, and other facilities and appliances on the premises must be used in a reasonable manner. There must be no deliberate or negligent destruction, defacing, impairment or removal of anything that is attached to or otherwise part of the premises. Also, the tenant is responsible for the conduct of family members and visitors in regard to the afore- mentioned situations.

The tenant should: avoid causing noisy or unruly disturbances which may bother other people; bring regular maintenance and major repair situations to the landlord's attention on a "as needed" basis; and notify the landlord promptly of any conditions that may cause deterioration of the premises.”

This can be translated as: If the tenant caused the mold growth via a spill or neglect to bring it to the attention of the landlord, then they can be held accountable.

If it is something that is caused by the neglect of the landlord then it is the landlord’s responsibility.

“Landlords must comply with state building code (RIGL 23-27.3) requirements concerning all new construction, additions, or repairs that are done or are needed. It is also extremely important that rental units be kept in a continually fit and habitable condition. When a unit is initially rented and during any period of occupancy, state law requires that a unit meet the housing standards of the Rhode Island Housing Maintenance and Occupancy Code (RIGL 45-24.3) (or http://www.library.state.ri.us/publications/hrc/2007Revision%20of%20L_T_Handbook2.pdf ), as well as local related ordinances. If a unit is sub-standard and repairs are not made in a prompt and satisfactory manner, there are certain options available to the tenant under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act as well as under the aforementioned housing code laws…

Generally, minor repairs of a structural nature are the responsibility of the landlord (if needed as a result of normal wear and tear) as well as all major repairs. As will be mentioned elsewhere, certain minor repairs, as well as cleanliness, and repairs needed as a result of the tenant's (or guest's) negligence or purposeful destruction are usually the tenant's responsibility. There can be a written agreement made between a landlord and a tenant, which allows the tenant to do specified repairs, maintenance, alterations, and remodeling. But such an agreement must be made in good faith, in writing, signed by both parties, and supported by adequate compensation. The agreement cannot be made so the landlord can avoid his or her responsibility under applicable building and housing codes, nor does it in any way diminish or affect the landlord's obligation to other tenants on the premises.”

Not having a law background I can’t weigh in on a “verdict” for whose responsibility it is. However, the one thing that should be weighed in on is a landlord not acting. If there is a foundation issue, a moldy basement, or a basement leak that isn’t fixed or addressed then yes, I agree that the landlord should be held responsible.

So it’s in your best interest as a tenant to educate yourself on the types of mold that are found in basements, effects, causes and if you suspect you have a moisture problem, then to contact a professional basement waterproofing company to help you iron out suggestions for proper mitigation with your landlord.

Further reading:

Indoor Mold Legislation Proceeds Cautiously at the State, Federal Level – Latham & Watkins, LLP



(this is a particularly partial listing and explanation of mold types and other resources)

Basement Waterproofing, Moisture Control, Dehumidifers and Basement Finishing


Where should a Sump Pump fall on my list of Priorities?

Where should a Sump Pump fall on my list of Priorities?

It’s a very common question, especially if you’ve already talked yourself out of believing you have a water problem in your basement.

If you have flooded, seen water, or experienced water of any kind in your basement, EVEN once a year (or once in a blue moon as you might put it), then a sump pump is a good starting point to help protect you from future flooding.

Sump pumps matched into the GrateSump are designed to help control the overall level of water, moisture and water vapor under your basement slab. Staying at 19” deep, the GrateSump is designed to house the pump, protect it and also discourage the moisture under the basement floor to coax any soil out from underneath the foundation footing which supports the house (in professional terms: Foundation Undermining).

Sump pumps that run less require less service, which in turn means that the pump will be more ready for your “once in a while” water that finds its way into your basement.

Once a sump pump is installed we can determine how often it runs, if there are any other problem areas in the basement that occur or reoccur and address those accordingly. Pioneer Basement’s uses the GrateSump because of its ease of extension. We can add onto the system whenever extra protection is needed in the future. More drain? Extra Pump? Wall Protection? Any one of these can be added to the existing sump, which would in turn become the heart of the water removal process.

A sump pump matched with the GrateSump is a great first step home improvement choice for those who want to address their basement and foundations properly.


NJ.com Article : Correct Basement Answer, not found.

Another article with slightly poor advice.

Q. I have a basement with standard masonry walls. There's a little "bump out" workshop that was put in sometime after the original house was completed. The owner cut through the original foundation to create a door and built an underground workshop there. An enclosed sun porch rests atop the workshop. The workshop is the dampest part of the basement. We keep finding puddles in one corner, sometimes up to a half-inch deep. This happens every few weeks, regardless of the weather. We have to take out the shop vac and vacuum it up.

That dries things out for a little while, but, inevitably, the water returns, and a portable dehumidifier doesn't seem to help. There are no visible cracks or condensation on the walls, and the water appears to either be bubbling up through the floor or through microscopic cracks at the base of the wall. (The floor is covered in 50-year-old asphalt tile and mastic, so we can't see whether there are any obvious cracks on the slab below.)

The rest of the basement is bone dry, including the other side of the workshop. We spoke with a few different basement waterproofing companies, all of whom told us that the only solution was to put in a sump pump. But that seems like overkill if the problem is only in one corner of this little part of the basement. What would you recommend? Short of digging out the foundation and resealing it from the outside, or repouring the floor, we're flummoxed!

-- Union

A. If the puddles appear during any season and you don't see any wetness on the walls indicating condensation, it is likely that the water is coming through the walls. If it were coming through cracks in the floor, you would likely see white efflorescence in the joints between the old asphalt tiles. Check the grade around the entire foundation, as water can travel considerable distances before it finds a weak point. Make sure that the grade flows away from the foundation and correct any low or flat areas.

It is also possible that, when the "bump out" was built, a dirt ball fell on the footings before the walls were erected and, over time, water pooling at the base of the foundation has found its way inside at that point; I have seen this before, where the top of the footing was not thoroughly cleaned before the wall forms were set up or the concrete blocks were laid. If the walls are made of poured concrete, you may want to try to waterproof them with one of the coatings available in hardware and building supply stores. However, if the walls are concrete or cinder blocks, do not waterproof them from inside, as their cores may fill with water and cause worse problems. If the condition is so small, as you say, you may just have to live with it.

I'll say this again in responce to this statement:
"If the walls are made of poured concrete, you may want to try to waterproof them with one of the coatings available in hardware and building supply stores"

Coatings don't work for long periods of time. They should only be used as a temperary solution if used at all.

The man, Henri de Marne is a little rough with the person asking for help. No one has to "live with" a wet basement. In fact no one SHOULD live with it because over long term not only is it damaging to your house but damaging to your health.

This is clearly a problem that's caused by both the land grade and something that's wrong with the footing/wall cold joint. I'm guessing there's not exterior drain system to speak of and it sounds like the area actually needs a bit of work.

Dinggy looking wood furtinure can be fixed with coatings and paints, not foundation walls.


Basement Waterproofing News

post on foundation repair and basement waterproofing in boston, why it's important and what you can do after your prepare your basement the right way.

The Perfect Basement Finishing System.

There are so many systems out there that transform your basement into livable space. The sad thing is that not many actually protect the space too.

Pioneer Home Basement Finishing’s BasementShield system is the combination of both the waterproofing industry and the basement finishing industry. With both focused on protecting the investment and the family, the products and style of construction are more in tune with the cry for healthier construction practices in your homes.

The perfect combination of materials for finishing a basement weren’t hard to put together. It was the drive, the need and the desire of our customers that helped us to find the right path. The key to a successful finishing project with long-term protection is to first waterproof the space properly, provide air circulation and to build the finishing elements, walls, floor, and ceiling, with non-organic and mold resistant materials.

By installing solid fixtures, insulated walls, anti-sag ceilings, recessed lighting, and other amenities, you have a durable, decorate-able, paint ready area in which to enjoy. These non-organic materials help to resist mold, mildew, and are designed with the waterproofing system in mind. As it works to protect your space against the moisture and water of the outside, the dehumidifier is circulating and filtering the air on the inside. Protecting the walls from moisture damage drastically minimizes the possibility of mold and mildew while providing an amazing finished surface to hang shelves and paintings.

Your whole basement will be treated, not just covered over. The idea is to keep the walls up, allow the system to work for you to protect your space, so you don’t have too. At Pioneer Home Basement Finishing we want to provide you with your dream space while protecting and promoting a healthy basement environment.

Call us today to set up an appointment with one of our Project Managers who can walk you through the design phase. : 1-800-439-0788

If you’d like to see more options of what our BasementShield system can become, please visit our web site and browse the gallery of images of some of the completed projects.


Another: Do-it-yourself Q&A


Q. Water was seeping into our basement through the concrete floor, and in an attempt to stop it we applied a waterproofing paint to the floor. Since then, although we have solved the water problem with an expensive drainage project outside the house, we have had a lot of problems with the floor. The paint bubbled up in some areas and we scraped it off. Parts of the floor are now white and crumbling. How can I get my smooth floor back? -N. Hermann

A. As you discovered, putting waterproofing paint on the floor was a mistake. These paints are designed to stop seepage through walls, and they often do a very good job of that, but they should not be used on floors.

You should have the floor examined by an experienced concrete contractor. It is possible the slab can be cleaned up and given an overlay of fresh concrete, but only a personal examination by an expert can determine that. You can also get a smooth, good-looking floor by covering the existing floor with interlocking tiles. The tiles are not fastened to the floor, and can be removed at any time, but they give a smooth, attractive, skid-resistant surface. For more information, visit www.XXXXXX.com and type Garage Floor Tiles in the search space.

Sadly, yet again, I have to make a correction on this:
These paints are designed to stop seepage through walls, and they often do a very good job of that, but they should not be used on floors.

Paints don't work for long-term solutions. If it covers, paints or seals, it can bubble, crack and peal. By "sealing up" the pores in concrete you're only doing this on the inside of the basement. For a sealing to truly work you must apply it on the exterior of the foundation in the first place. HOWEVER, even doing that, it's only a temporary stop measure.

Getting back to the inside: by sealing up the pores you're creating more pressure against the wall. If you poke a hole in a bottle, the water dribbles out, you put a stopper in that and what happens, the stopper eventually gets forced out because the build up of pressure behind it, due to the fact that the hole is the path of least resistance for the water to flow.

So what you're really doing is creating more pressure beyond the wall to force against this "paint". Because hydrostatic pressure build up is more common below floors more moisture comes in direct contact with your basement floor. So by putting a paint on the floor, the moisture seeps and travels through the concrete of the floor, and just like paint upstairs, will cause it to peal, crack and come right off the floor.

The paint bubbled up in some areas and we scraped it off. Parts of the floor are now white and crumbling

If you're experiencing "white" parts on your foundation, that's a sign of water contact with that surface. It's the left over mineral deposits from water after it evaporates.

Plenty of businesses sell attractive solutions for your basement flooring needs: www.homebasementfinishing.com and www.basementdepot.com are just two I know from my own network of friends.


Water Coming in through the Foundation of the House.

This is the typical issue that people with wet basements have. Moisture/Water is coming directly through the foundation via a crack or puncture.

Punctures can happen from direct impact on the foundation wall, or through a very long process of micro-pores finally being connected via the concrete separations giving way.

Cracks are a common thing in many homes, especially older homes. Settlement, soil expansion and contraction, hydrostatic pressure, rapid cooling and drying of new concrete, or in the case of concrete block and brick, the mortar breaking up and dissipating.

The first step in correcting any foundation leaks that lead to a flooded basement is to formally address the foundation issues. Re-point the blocks or bricks, correct mortar issues, fill cracks, add FiberLock or Wall Anchoring systems (if one is needed) and then move onto the next step.

After the foundation is secure it’s time to waterproof the basement . Many people think that hydro-sealing the cracks is good enough to repair the crack and waterproof the basement. Sadly, after years of watching such repairs fail, it’s not. It’s a good temporary solution to get you safely to a permanent solution.

Installing an interior drain system in your basement is the only proven, permanent method to keep your basement dry. This will cover the addressed foundation, trap and redirect water to be properly drained and removed from the basement.

All foundations require an amount of water, especially in places like Texas, to stay stable, upright and without major incident. Concrete being naturally porous and absorbent, water will naturally find its way into concrete to fill the holes left behind by the drying process during the curing of the concrete walls.

Questions about your basement or foundation? Contact me on the Pioneer Basement Help Forums and Ask away. Don't forget to leave your comment here or to quote it in your forum posting.

Related Reading and Links

Read about the Top 6 Basement Mistakes that contractors and homeowners make.

Ask Pioneer Basement a question Directly on Pioneer Basement's Help Forums!


What does Iron Bacteria look like?

iron bacteria in sump basin

Iron Bacteria isn’t something that we see on an every day basis. Many people who have read this blog and others like it are curious to see what Iron Bacteria looks like. So I went on a hunt, even borrowing pictures from blog friends of mine such as Steve Andras and from sites like http://www.homebasementfinishing.com/ to try to bring you a realistic collection of images of Iron Bacteria.

I don’t want to paint too much of a biased picture of Iron Bacteria. It can be some rather nasty stuff dependant on the soil content and the moisture content where you are
iron bacteria in a drain trenchiron bacteria population in stream
As I've said countless times, Iron Bacteria isn't harmful to humans. It might smell slightly odd, clog pipes and indicate a high level of minerals in the area that could be harmful... but the bacteria itself isn't harmful.

Related Reading and Links

Read about the Top 6 Basement Mistakes that contractors and homeowners make.

Ask Pioneer Basement a question Directly on Pioneer Basement's Help Forums!


Do you need to get your basement storm ready?

If you have a waterproofing system, thinking about getting one or just need something to give you a little bit of an edge in the next big storm, consider investing in a Battery Back-Up Sump Pump.

Battery Back-Up Sump Pumps are not just batteries that can be connected to an existing pump. They are typically whole separate units that require separate discharge lines as well. The higher quality units will also give you an alternator box to help recharge these batteries using AC power.

The nice thing is that these pumps don’t just come in handy during a power outage. They can be tailored to help out in any situation, using AC power or battery power. By simply placing the switch at a level that allows for the Battery Back up to kick in at a particular water level under your basement floor, you’ll set yourself up to add in pump redundancy. If the normal pump can’t handle the flow, the battery back up will turn on and jump in to “lend a hand.” BBU Sump pumps are essentially adding another two pumps to your line of defense against basement flooding. 1 pump that works when the power is on and another pump that works when the power is off.

With the massive storms blowing through over the next few weeks because of Hurricane season don’t forget to have a solid waterproofing company in your phone book in case you need an emergency pump out.

One such company is Pioneer Basement. Serving as far west in Massachusetts as Berkshire county, as far west in Connecticut as Hartford, all the way to the shore lines of southern Rhode Island, and well back up into Boston.

If you need an emergency pump out, if you want to stop the water from ever coming in again after this big storm, or you just want to get pumps to keep you well defended, get in touch with Pioneer Basement: the Basement Experts.


How safe are Battery Back ups for Sump Pumps?

The right word is Extremely.

Battery back ups are low maintenance, encased in waterproof covers, usually accompanied with user control panels to monitor battery power levels and functionality.

Not all sump pumps can be powered by battery. Many companies supply sump pumps that are already designed to be powered by battery power. These would be the first option to a battery-back up sump pump system. Some are strong enough even to take over for the primary A/C power pump you have installed.

There are quite a few battery-back up sump pumps on the market. However, there are only some that are as versatile, strong, and rugged as the PHC-2400 Pro-Series Battery Back-Up pumps from Glentronics. Pioneer Basement has often supported the need for a battery back up. In New England Nor’easter storms, hurricanes, and heavy rain in spring and fall can, and often do, cause power outages.

By having 2 incased batteries supplying your sump pump with power; you give yourself an extra 18 hours of fighting chance to keep your basement dry under the worst of conditions.

There has been no record, that I have access to, of any major injuries with any battery back up system.

As with anything, there is some simple safety tips to familiarize yourself with if you choose to have a battery-back up sump pump system installed:

* Know when it needs to be maintained.
* If it’s refilled, what does it need, how do you do it, and what safety protection do you need.

As with any battery, use common sense. Don’t handle the battery out of the case with bare hands. Don’t open the battery to do any refueling unless you have gloves and eye goggles on. Don’t slam the battery down on the floor because that could render it useless by shaking the plates inside the battery.

If you have any questions about having a battery-back up sump pump system installed, contact your local GrateProducts Contractor in your area to ask how you can have a Basement Inspection at your home and find out which style battery back up sump pump is right for you and your basement’s protection needs.


How Does Iron Bacteria Work

Iron Bacteria is a living organism that feeds off of iron and manganese in water. It requires all three of these food sources to function.

Currently there is little being studied about how Iron Bacteria exist. They typically propagate in iron rich areas with high moisture. As a bacterium they are harmless to humans however people have recently began becoming frustrated with Iron Bacteria as it clogs pipes and basement drainage systems.

Very few companies are doing anything about Iron Bacteria. However, GrateProducts in Westport MA has officially put anti-microbial in all of its drainage system. What the anti-microbial do is to help the limit the “stickiness” of the bacteria to the surface of the drains, ports, sump pump basins and the like.

By maintaining yearly maintenance of your basement waterproofing system you can hold off infestations of Iron Bacteria, keep your drains clear, and allow a naturally occurring organism to live with out interfering with your daily life.

Canada, Quebec in particular, are having similar problems with the way that Iron Bacteria/ Iron Ochre reproduces and populates in an area. They're proposed very radical solutions.
Full ACAIQ article and Pioneer Basement's Responce to Iron Bacteria.


Where I get my Drive.

Often people ask me why I'm so obsessed with basements and home improvement. I do work for Pioneer Basement (if you haven't already guessed from my endless ranting about how amazing we are:-) )

Steve Andres
recently wrote a piece stating in the hopes of getting accross how important actually addressing the basement is.

He's the inspiration for the majority of my writing and research. In time I also hope to be an internet version of him, spreading the word and pressing the basement waterproofing industry to change, the technology to grow and change, for the minds of millions of people to finally see that by changing the environment in their basement they can drastically affect the living standard that they want to improve.

My other blogs on various networks are listed, as well as Steve's small collection. Out hope is really to educate you to understanding how important your basement is to the total health of your home. Education is the first step towards changing your reality.

Backup sump pumps that do not waste drinking water

The best way to protect a basement from flooding during an emergency is to install a battery backup sump pump. These systems can provide days of pumping when the power is out or the primary sump pump fails. Battery backup sump pumps include a separate pump and a powerful battery that is connected together with a monitoring controller.

Plumbing contractors offer the industrial grade version of these sump pumps under the PHCC Pro Series Brand. Product information and a listing of factory authorized installing contractors is available at www.stopflooding.com

For the Do It Yourself homeowner there is the Basement Watchdog brand of energy saving sump pump. Details on this brand and a list of stocking retailers is available at www.basementwatchdog.com

There are also backup sump pumps that actually use the power of your fresh running water from a faucet. The fresh water sucks up soiled sump water and dumps it outside of the building. Unfortunately this wastes huge amounts of valuable fresh drinking water that is needed to sustain us. As we have all witnessed in the summer months, we are restricted or prohibited from watering our gardens and lawns because there is a shortage of fresh water. Some areas have had to ration water just to provide basic service. This is the same fresh water that we are allowing to be used in backup sump pumps when the proven technology of battery backup sump pumps is available. A back-flow valve is required on water powered pumps to prevent the sump water from flowing back into the fresh water supply. If a valve is not installed properly the polluted sump water can contaminate your drinking water as well as the rest of your neighborhood. For this reason a licensed plumber is required to install these pumps properly.
above contributed by Glentronics.

It for these reasons, and many others, why Pioneer Basement and the Pioneer Home Basement Finishing Network don’t install drinking water use sump pumps. Our Waterproofing Experts only use the PHCC Pro Series Brand, which doesn’t use drinking water. We do this because we’re concerned about the health and safety of our nation’s people.

Additional Reading:
Sump Pumps: Going Green is the Standard; DIYGUYCT.blogspot.com
Why you need a battery backup sump pump: Glentronics.com


Standing water in Basements: What should I do?

Standing water is a common term for any body of water that is at rest on any surface. Commonly seen on the floor of basements (since that’s the lowest point in many homes), this is a clear indicator of flooding, leaks, or pipe damage.

If the level of water is unsafe and possibly coming into contact with electrical outlets DO NOT attempt to come in contact with this water. At this point it would be to your benefit to call your local Emergency Clean up professionals and ask them about the course of action that you should take.

If met with a small puddle or a small leak, this is something that many people can handle. Blotting (with sponge and bucket) can help you to get up the majority, if not all, of the water. Make sure to move any of the objects that were affected by this puddle away to a safe, dry place to evenly dry out. Do not place objects with die such as books, magazines, oriental rugs, or clothing on wall-to-wall carpeting to dry as this will typically end in staining. If the damage feels like it’s more than you can handle call your area Emergency Clean up Professionals.

As I mentioned before, standing water is normally a result of some sort of flooding, leak or pipe burst. Have an inspection done by a basement specialist to determine the entry point of the water. From here you can properly fix and clean your situation.

Updating copper piping for plumbing fixtures to PAX, patching or hydro-sealing cracks in the foundation, and waterproofing the basement can help to protect your space in the future. Water coming from the outside through your sill plate and over your foundation walls is typically caused by major disasters and or improper land gradation near your foundation. All soil around your house should be no higher than 6”-12” from the top of your foundation.

When major disasters occur such as flash flooding, hurricanes, typhoons or other acts of nature much of the flooding get in touch with your town or state to see what the plan is for emergency action in your area. Always make sure to follow the instructions provided to you and always keep your safety in mind


Do you need to get your Basement storm ready?

If you have a waterproofing system, thinking about getting one or just need something to give you a little bit of an edge in the next big storm, consider investing in a Battery Back-Up Sump Pump.

Battery Back-Up Sump Pumps are not just batteries that can be connected to an existing pump. They are typically whole separate units that require separate discharge lines as well. The higher quality units will also give you an alternator box to help recharge these batteries using AC power.

The nice thing is that these pumps don’t just come in handy during a power outage. They can be tailored to help out in any situation, using AC power or battery power. By simply placing the switch at a level that allows for the Battery Back up to kick in at a particular water level under your basement floor, you’ll set yourself up to add in pump redundancy. If the normal pump can’t handle the flow, the battery back up will turn on and jump in to “lend a hand.” BBU Sump pumps are essentially adding another two pumps to your line of defense against basement flooding. 1 pump that works when the power is on and another pump that works when the power is off.

With the massive storms blowing through over the next few weeks because of Hurricane season don’t forget to have a solid waterproofing company in your phone book in case you need an emergency pump out.

One such company is Pioneer Basement. Serving as far west in Massachusetts as Berkshire county, as far west in Connecticut as Hartford, all the way to the shore lines of southern Rhode Island, and well back up into Boston.

If you need an emergency pump out, if you want to stop the water from ever coming in again after this big storm, or you just want to get pumps to keep you well defended, get in touch with Pioneer Basement: the Basement Experts.



The Dry Harp Spokeswomen; Thankful Letter to Pioneer Basement

June 6th, 2008

Dear Steve,

I would've emailed you, but I don't have your personal email address.

Anyway, I'm getting lots of amusing calls. Apparently "our" commercial is on again. One of my adult beginning harp students said, "I heard your voice on the radio, and I fully expected you to say, 'Keep your thumbs up,' but instead you were selling basements!"

A former friend from over 25 years ago heard the ad and through the grapevine got my phone number; so we've reconnected.

One of my orchestra managers called to let me know I could leave my harp at the concert hall overnight. He asked, "And is this the harp that never gets wet?"

I've enjoyed all the funny reactions. I hope you got some business out of it. I keep singing your praises to everyone.

So Again, I would be happy to do another ad with you. I would even bring my harp to the WBZ studio and play a few bars of "Singin' in the Rain” (your theme song when we call you and are put on-hold). Then I could say, "This is the famous harp that never got wet!" and/or whatever else you'd like me to say.

I still am thrilled about my dry basement. You did the work more than 2 years ago, and I haven't had a single drop of water down there - ever - during heavy rain downpours or snowstorms with the snow melting. I used to be afraid to go down there because I didn't know what I would see - puddles, a flood, all my books ruined, whatever - but now I skip down the cellar stairs with confidence, knowing my basement will be dry as a bone.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Best Wishes,
Judy R.

Mold and Mildew in Basements

What is mold?
Mold, or mildew, is a type of fungus that can cause a stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing or skin irritation in those sensitive to them. These annoying growths affect people with asthma, allergies and other breathing challenges. It’s easy to detect both mold and mildew. The decomposition of organic material caused by the growth of mold creates a ‘musty’ smell. The only effective way to control mold is to control moisture. A dry basement is free of mold and mildew.

Effects of Mold

Excessive exposure to some types of mold can cause, or worsen, conditions such as asthma, hay fever, and or other allergies. Depending on the amount of exposure, more serious health effects such as fevers and breathing problems can occur.

Prevent Mold Growth
The only effective way to control mold is to control moisture. Mold resistant material is effective only when use in conjunction with proper moisture control.
What you can’t see….

Basements with any degree (typically 50% Realitive Humidity or higher) of humidity or water are responsible for an unpleasant odor that sometimes proves to be a health hazard for anyone with allergies or a sensitive respiratory system. Undetected moisture and water, perhaps behind a basement finished wall, can create an environment for mold and mildew to grow.

You don’t need a flood to have major problems in your basement.
Undetected leaks can create an environment for mold to grow. Moisture and water, perhaps behind a basement finished wall, can create an environment for mold and mildew to grow. The best and most cost effective strategy to managing the growth of mold and mildew is to prevent the intrusion of water.

Whatever the amount of use your basement gets, it should not be a place that makes you sick. Air quality problems exist in homes of any age and can be caused by flooding or a simple excess of moisture or water entering through the foundation.

Basement finishing is a fun idea that many of us today wish that we could do. Don't neglect your basement preparation step before you finish. Take care of your moisture, mold and air quality before you finish. Otherwise you'll be sitting in your mistake. The last thing that I'd ever want to see would be someone who was in love with their space having to watch it come down due to "jumping the gun" early on in the project.

www.homebasementfinishing.com for more information on preparation, finishing and other healthy pre-finishing ideas for your basement space.


Iron Bacteria: Exploring food source.


I posted on Pioneer Basement's Forums in my work blog about Iron Bacteria as a Health Risk.

As far as the research says (currently) Iron Bacteria isn't a health risk. Having Iron Bacteria can only clog well pumps, basement waterproofing systems, or exterior drain systems that have direct access to water where the Iron Bacteria is present.

To the Basement Waterproofing Industry Iron Bacteria is more of a "pain in the rump" than anything dreadfully serious.

However, because it exists, clogs basement waterproofing systems, and helps to disrupt the dry basement that you love, I feel compelled to write about it.

This blog post on the Pioneer Basement Forums that I posted deals with Iron Bacteria's food source: Iron and Manganese.

For more formal research and understanding:
Wilkes University Center for Environmental Quality Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences: Iron and Manganese in Drinking Water

Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion Testing
By Jeffrey R. Kearns, Brenda J. Little (p.266)


Info on FHA 203K for Home Improvement needs

Everyone I've met in the past few months have asked about financing, do I do it, can I do it, who do I use and etc. That's all well and good but even financing can't cover everything.

I give all the resources that I can and now I've been looking into government backings.

This lady Jane Anne (I admit I just started reading) posted throughly about the FHA203K home improvement Loans.

It's very informative, non-biased look at this loan is a very important additive to your Arsenal. It covers basement waterproofing and other home improvement needs.

here's a sample of what it could help you cover!:
1. New freestanding appliances
2. Bathroom remodels
3. Master bedroom remodel
4. Upgrading HVAC
5. Adding energy efficient improvements
6. Wells and septic repair and upgrades
7. New siding
8. Interior painting
9. Exterior painting
10. Attic build-outs
11. Waterproofing the basement
12. Creating a media room
13. Adding a 2nd floor

Some of these improvements can of course be built into the basement, after the basement was waterproofed. So theoretically you can use this loan to totally finish your basement off. Hope!

Give it a read, take it into consideration.


Organic Vs. Non-Organic Construction in Basements Remodeling

Recycling, green building and renewable forms of energy are all amazing steps in America today. It has been a long time coming. There is a new appreciation for Organic farming and produce, helping people to eat better, eat locally, and support their farms and farmers. But there seems to be confusion when discussing construction material for home improvements. People are so use to seeing “organic” and associating it with “good”. When building below grade in a basement different construction practices need to start happening rather than “traditional” space construction. In this case Non-Organic can be associated with Good, and help to protect and support the green building on top of it.

Non-Organic construction simply means that the things that are used in the construction are man-made and can’t be broken down by natural bacteria or fungi, such as mold. Typically, they are items that can’t be food sources for mold such as wood or standard Dry Wall. These products can however be made from recycled items, such as car tires, plastics and other materials. They are all designed specifically for applications in the basement so as not to contribute to the existence of molds or mildews in your basement space.

If you plan to use a renewable resource such as Bamboo for a flooring option, good for you! You’re helping the environment by buying into a resource that doesn’t strip away eco-systems. However, to be on the safe side, because it’s an Organic product, simply putting a FloorSheild™ can help to separate that brand new bamboo flooring from coming into contact with moisture on your basement floor. Typical vapor diffusers work, for the most part, but they aren’t designed to allow for air flow below the floor needed by the dehumidifiers to do their jobs properly.

I whole heartedly support Organic and renewable resources. When designing in the basement, always be aware of matching Non-Organic with Organic to create a protective layer that can defend the interior space from moisture damage.

More Links

Find out more about the need to Prepare Properly in your Basement

More Options for Non-Organic Flooring

Prevent Damage to your Organic Materials in your Basement

I'm continuing the discussion both:
DIYNetwork Message Boards
and on Pioneer Basement's Help Forums


Mold forces family out of Bradley Beach home

By Bill Bowman • COASTAL MONMOUTH BUREAU • August 10, 2008

John McBride's life these days is centered on help: giving it and getting it.

McBride, 45, said he, his wife, Cynthia, and their three children — Samantha, 12, Jessica, 10, and John, 16 — were forced out of their rented home in Bradley Beach earlier this year because of a massive mold problem.

After months of asking for help from local and state officials, the family was moved into an Eatontown motel. Now, in between looking for a new home, caring for himself and his family and hoping to return to work, McBride said, he's turning to state legislators to make sure what happened to him doesn't happen to others.

McBride wants a state law to compel property owners to fix mold problems in their buildings as soon as they are discovered.

State Sen. Sean Kean, R-Monmouth, said he plans to sign on as a primary co-sponsor to legislation introduced by Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, which, Kean said, would address problems such as those McBride said he encountered.

McBride's also turned to two lawyers, Jack Polloway and Patricia Bennett, both of Red Bank, to get some justice for himself.

The mold has affected the health of everyone in his family and, McBride said, led to the death of the family cat, Cuddles.

"My family is very sick," McBride said. "I don't know what is going to happen with all of this. "This is a disaster."

The McBride family's problems began sometime after they moved into the home on Fourth Avenue in Bradley Beach home five years ago, McBride said.

McBride had gone on disability from the credit control manager's job he held in New York City shortly before moving into the home, he said. Recovery from knee surgery took longer than expected, forcing him to take time off, he said. Within months of moving in, he said, he noticed that his knee was not healing, and that it was becoming harder for him to walk, among other things.

Among his other ailments: chest pains, body tremors, headaches and blurred vision, he said.

"I had blood tests going back to 2004 and 2005, showing my white blood count high. Nobody knew why," he said.

"I couldn't walk, talk or anything starting last October, right after the heat went on," he said. "Then we bring up the Christmas tree from the basement, and it smelled terrible."

One daughter, Jessica, began to get fevers, he said.

"Every month, for a week or two," McBride said.

After many tests could not pinpoint the problem, McBride said, his primary doctor, Dr. Harold M. Cotter of Wall, suggested that he might have a mold problem in his home.

The family's pediatrician, Dr. Kristen Atienza of Neptune, said that mold was probably at the root of their childrens' problems.

A note Cotter wrote to McBride recommends that the family find new housing "'due to mold toxicity."

McBride said his family's health problems intensified during the winter months, when the heat was on.

Once the suggestion was made that mold could be the problem, McBride jumped into action. He had two contractors give estimates to fix the problem, one coming in at $24,000.

He wrote several letters to his landlord, Mary Nitti, asking her to fix the situation, and he also called county and state health officials, all to no avail, he said.

Nitti did not return calls for comment.

McBride later scratched together the money necessary to have a team come down from Rutgers University to test the house.

May 7 results from the tests, conducted by the Rutgers Plant Diagnostics Laboratory in Milltown — part of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station — showed the presence of stachybotrys, according to a memo sent by the station.

Stachybotrys, McBride said, is "said to be rare, but one of the most toxic molds there is."

The Centers for Disease Control's Web site notes that if stachybotrys "or other molds are found in a building, prudent practice recommends that they be removed."

It got to the point, McBride said, where he and his family had to sleep while wearing face masks.

On May 23, Bradley Beach's construction official, Don Clare, issued a notice of unsafe structure to the owner. The notice required the building to be demolished by June 21 or to be repaired by June 27.

Clare declined to comment for this report, but construction work is being performed on the house.

Among the building's violations Clare noted in the order were fire damage in the floor joists and that the brick foundation appeared "'distressed."

"Tenant is complaining of severe mold condition in the basement and in the living space," Clare noted in the report. "Tenant has obtained estimates from a mold remediation company, a waterproofing company and a doctor, all of which state a mold issue exists" in the home, he wrote in the report.

Clare required that a "mold clearance report by an engineer or accredited agency be obtained" before anyone could resume occupancy in the house.

The family was out of the house for about a week by that time, McBride said. An Asbury Park-based social service agency, Check-Mate Inc., paid for the McBrides to stay at an Eatontown motel for 29 days, said Ernie Rivera, Check-Mate's community development manager.

That aid has expired, McBride said, and he is now paying for the room himself.

The family lost most of its belongings because they were infested with mold spores and were making the family sick, even in the motel, McBride said.

"Everything we had is lost," he said.

McBride in July filed suit against Nitti, through Polloway. Polloway said the case is still in its infancy.

He said Nitti has filed a counterclaim, alleging that any mold, if it is there, was caused by the McBrides.

McBride said he's feeling better and hopes he can soon return to work, although not at the job he held when he moved into the Fourth Avenue house.

He also said he has been talking with staff from the office of Kean about the proposed bill. The legislation he would like to see enacted, he said, would require property owners to test suspected mold immediately after it is found and to remediate any problems.

McBride said anyone who wants to join in his fight can e-mail him at moldleg333@live.com


Iron Bacteria

What is Iron Bacteria?
Iron bacteria are a natural part of the environment. These microorganisms combine dissolved iron or manganese with oxygen and use it to form rust-colored deposits. In the process, the bacteria produce a brown slime that builds up on drains, pipes, and plumbing fixtures.

Effects of Iron Bacteria

Iron Bacteria in wells does not cause health problems, but they can have the following unpleasant and possibly expensive effects: Cause odors, corrode plumbing equipment, clog pipes, clog drainage systems, and increase chances of sulfur bacteria infestations.

Prevent Iron Bacteria
Prevention is the best safeguard against accompanying problems. Iron bacteria are nourished by carbon and other organics, and it is essential that these are not introduced into any part of the drainage system. Because it is difficult to get rid of iron bacteria once they exist, it is best to isolate it and try to control it rather than trying to completely “cure” the problem.

Clogging Drainage Pipes
Iron bacteria can cause damage to pipes due to deposition of iron compounds, resulting in clogging tuberculation of pipes and red water.

Controlling Iron Bacteria

The iron bacteria does not use oxygen but rather it needs the carbon dioxide which it gets from the oxygen. For this reason it is not recommended to install a sub floor drainage system that has an open wall channel. The open wall channel will allow air to be introduced and help the iron bacteria to thrive.

When the contractor installs a sub-floor drainage system, he/she should install some type of wall protection at the same time. With an iron bacteria problem evident, GrateProducts LLC believe that a closed system is the best defense for minimizing and controlling iron bacteria.


SeattlePI.com : Dangers of Basement Living Overlooked

Dangers of basement living often overlooked
Don't ignore safety when converting space, experts say


When a massive storm hit Seattle last month, a sudden flood trapped Kate Fleming in the basement of her 1907 Madison Valley home and, unable to escape, she drowned in the fast-rising water.

Her death was a shocking eye-opener for basement-happy Seattleites who fill the lowest level of their houses with entertainment centers, recording studios, home businesses and family rooms.....

for full article: click here


GrateDrain – Next Phase in Basement Waterproofing Technologies pt.1

Drain Tiles, French Drain, Pipe and Stone, and now the GrateDrain™. The advancement process in the water control and basement waterproofing industry has been slow and fraught with trial and error. But now, the GrateDrain™ bends the rules and introduces new technology to old ideas.

What is the GrateDrain™?

The GrateDrain™ is a product introduced by Grate Products LLC in Westport, MA a little over 3 years ago. Its design is simple: A duel channel drain made out of extruded polyvinyl chloride (PVC), its wide holes on both sides are punched, and the walls of the drain are .08in thick. It’s a robust, smooth, drain with antimicrobials built into the plastic to defend against iron bacteria infiltration.

GrateDrain™ is unique in that it contains a solid center support wall that not only serves a structural function but succeeds in helping to discourage cross contamination of water penetration from wall/footing joint to under your concrete floor. This also helps to isolate iron bacteria issues if they are present. Large punched holes allow for higher volume of water to enter the drain to be then directed to the sump pump area.

Punching the holes, rather than drilling them, leads to less snags not only while you’re installing the GrateDrain™, but allows for less to hold onto when we’re talking about clogs. If the pipe openings are smooth, the less debris and other objects tend to get caught. Stuck dirt only allows for more things to attach themselves to it, leading to build ups and eventual failure of the pipe.

The entire drain is customizable to the size required for the job. No longer would you have to deal in 7 foot lengths of prefabricated piping. If you need a 14’-5” piece, you build it, right then and there, leading to very little waste and a more manageable pitch to the drain. The drain connects to itself via access ports that are located along long stretches of drain and at the corners. These access ports allow the installer to maintain the drain over long periods of time and allow for better flow around corners through the continuous GrateDrain™.

For more information about GrateDrain™ Contractors in your area visit: http://www.grateproducts.com/

For Local Installers:
VT: Vermont Basement
MA/CT/RI: Pioneer Basement
NH: Rescon Solutions
NY: Kinetic Basement
PA (east): Tri-State Services Inc.
PA (west): Matthews Wall Anchor
MO: Missouri Basement: St.Louis Metro
NY: Crawford Basements (Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse)
Iowa: Basement Solutions of Iowa
VA: Virginia Basement Waterproofing
NJ: Select Basement Waterproofing, NJ
MD: Floodbusters Basement Waterproofing - Baltimore

Part 2 Continued @ http://http//www.pioneerbasement.com/forum/blog.php?b=14