Block Basements: Part Four

backhoe digging up leaking basement foundation.

This week we look at what should happen when it comes time to dig up a basement and correct the problem. Actually, we are going to look at how a reputable contractor should begin. Over the years I have had numerous conversations with responsible foundation contractors and every conversation contains the comment

Block Basements: Part Three

Waterproofing a block basement

This is the third in my series on block foundations and we now look at the numerous kinds of materials, coatings and membranes on the market that are used to rectifying a wet block basement. One thing to get clear from the start, the terms damp proofing and waterproofing that are often used by some unscrupulous contractors as the same thing

Block Basements: Part Two

The number one issue with a block basement is moisture; blocks are not waterproof…period. Water will penetrate any mortar crack, open seam or just about any opening for that matter and we all know that the blocks themselves are porous. I have seen cases where a contractor drilled a hole in the second course of blocks and the water actually flowed out.

Block Basements: Part One

Block basement under construction.

With well over 40 plus years of building, renovation and building assessment experience block basements are continuing reminder that they need special care and understanding. Part one in this 6-part series begins with some background.

Disaster Preparedness List

Disaster plan on cell phone screen with coffee cup and keyboard.

It seems that natural disasters and extremes in our climate are becoming more predominant every year. I get the question more often during a home inspection “What do we do if the power goes off?” for example. 

Building Dates in History: 

History spelled out with books.

Just a few interesting dates and facts about the history of building including plumbing, electrical and wooden structures . . .

Humidity and Humidifiers

Whole home humidifier attached to furnace.

A musty smelling basement is often a sign of excess humidity in your home. The first thing a homeowner should do is establish the level of humidity in the home.

Building Energy Savings 101:

Energy savings options graphic

Operational savings are but one part of understanding the dynamics of looking at your home as a “whole house” system, as opposed to individual aspects that, without considering the home, can and do cause other issues. In the fall of the year, I often get e-mails that ask: “My new windows are covered in condensation.”

 Energy Saving Myths & Realities

Energy efficient windows and doors on a blue sky with white clouds background.

Window manufacturers advertised energy savings often make me chuckle. I have seen manufacturer’s claims of up to 50% savings in energy. In fact the average savings are less than 10% for the best windows and an average retrofit window is closer to 5% savings. If you calculate the cost of the windows vs the energy savings it could take many years, make that close to 100 in some cases.

Programmable Thermostats and Heat Pumps

Man's hand holding cell phone with programmable thermostat in the background.

Unless you own or have access to a wood lot and are prepared to cut, split and maintain a wood stove and deal with the issues around home insurance, there really is no cheap system for heating.