Perma-Seal News and Information

This is where we will post industry news as well as helpful hints for the home and business owner in Chicagoland.

5 Things to Do Before Finishing a Basement in Chicago

5 Things to Do Before Finishing a Basement in Chicago

Whether living in a bungalow in Lincoln Square or a split-level home in Des Plaines, many Chicago-area homeowners find that when the weather breaks, they begin to see past the dark, damp clutter of their unfinished basements to recognize the potential value of the extra space. They want to begin using that below-grade area confidently for storage, living and even entertainment purposes.
But they also know that finishing a basement is no small project.

The trick is to do a bit of prep work and avoid jumping right into the remodeling portion of the project. Here are five things you should consider doing before you finish your basement.

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Pain in the Drain: The Holidays Can Be Tough on Your Plumbing

Pain in the Drain: The Holidays Can Be Tough on Your Plumbing

By Roy Spencer, Perma-Seal The winter holidays are certainly a festive time for many homeowners, but they can also be a particularly tough time for your plumbing and sewer lines. The incorrect disposal of cooking grease, overuse of garbage disposals and improper or excessive disposal of paper waste can resulted in clogged drains and are frequent culprits of pipe-clogging sewer problems during this time of year. If you don’t catch a blockage in time, your household plumbing systems can become inoperable and, what’s worse, raw sewage can back up through toilets, tubs and sinks into your home. Here’s how to avoid trouble with your sewer lines this holiday season:

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How to Spot Foundation Damage Caused by Drought

How to Spot Foundation Damage Caused by Drought

You don’t have to be a weather geek to be well aware of the severe heat waves and drought that have affected much of the country in recent years. The impact on gardens, once-green lawns and other landscaping is unmistakable. But what you may not know is that this kind of heat and extended dryness can mean big problems for your home. It can cause the ground beneath your house to harden and crack, and even start moving and sinking. And of course, when the ground starts to shift it can cause damage to your home’s foundation. Luckily, if you know where to look, these kinds of issues can be spotted and repaired.

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Protect Your Family’s Health with a Properly Lined Crawl Space

Protect Your Family’s Health with a Properly Lined Crawl Space

You may not want to think about it, but the odors and gases (and all the critters) in your crawl space have a free pass into your home—particularly in the winter months when houses are sealed tight. During heating season, the natural airflow of a home draws crawl space air directly into your upstairs living space (what’s known as the “stack” effect). In fact, about 50 percent of the air you breathe in your home is said to originate from the basement or crawl space. A properly cared-for crawl space can help maintain your home's structure.

What lies beneath

So, what are the issues you need to ferret out? Moisture, for one. It’s a major contributor to mildew, fungi, and mold, which has been blamed for everything from rashes and runny noses to severe asthma and liver problems. Moisture is also a magnet for spiders, snakes, termites and other nasty pests. Radon is another problem that can originate in dirt or gravel crawl spaces. You can’t see or smell radon—it’s an odorless, colorless gas—but it has major health implications: it’s said to be the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to the EPA.

Simple solutions

Fortunately, there are relatively simple ways to identify and mitigate these serious health risks. Moisture and mold are commonly spotted with a quick visual inspection or through a “sniff” test: a damp, musty smell is a good sign that there’s excess moisture lurking about. And while radon itself is invisible, radon test kits can uncover the problem. They are widely available, and easy to use. Once you’ve pinpointed the problems, the best first step is to encapsulate your crawl space with a durable, puncture-resistant wall liner that will act as a barrier to insects, gases and odors. You can also help the problem by including a drainage system (a sump pump and a drain tile system) that will redirect any water or moisture that does make its way in. A good last step is spray foam, which minimizes moisture and acts as a nice energy-saver. These are projects an avid DIYer can take on. But, if the idea overwhelms you, there are many professional companiesthat can provide you with a permanent solution—particularly if your problem is radon ... that’s something best left to the experts.

What not to do

Regardless of who does the work, there are a couple of things you’ll want to make sure NOT to do. Pumping in concrete, for instance, is an all-around bad idea. That’s because the process introduces hundreds of gallons of water that will ultimately soak into your floor joists and add to the already high humidity levels in your crawl space. Also, pumped concrete floors are different than basement floors; they are chalky and dusty and can introduce more chemicals into the air. Another no-no: spraying closed-cell foam in the crawl space. Spray foam is commonly sprayed at the point where the foundation meets the floor joists. Sealing this joint with a closed-cell material will cause wood rot and severe damage to your home’s structure. Be sure that you use an “open-cell” or “open-weave” type of insulation. No one really wants to think about what lurks in the underworld of a house. But taking a few simple steps to identify and mitigate the problems can protect your family and transform your crawl space into a safe, dry and critter-free area of your home.
Content and images courtesy of guest blogger Perma-Seal.
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Even Dry Basements Require Inspection

Even Dry Basements Require Inspection

Hanging up a new, clean calendar is a ritual for many at the beginning of each year, and we quickly begin the process of filling in all of those important dates. Along with fun things like birthdays and anniversaries, we start making appointments to have our teeth cleaned, the furnace checked, the oil in our cars changed, or even a yearly checkup with our doctor. Thank goodness for those handy reminders we get in the mail to help us remember to schedule the all-important annual checkups!

While you’re making your list of important things to check on an annual basis, do not forget about scheduling a basement inspection. A dry basement is an invaluable asset to your home,  even more important when you have a finished basement. The small cost of maintaining your lower living space is minimal compared to the amount of trouble and heartache you would experience if you had several inches of water suddenly appear downstairs.

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How to Protect Your Basement From Sewer Backup

How to Protect Your Basement From Sewer Backup

Have you ever experienced a large amount of standing water in your basement after a heavy rainstorm?  Do you wonder where it comes from and how so much ends up in your home? If the water has come up through any plumbing fixtures or you have standing water over your floor drain, there’s a good chance that you are experiencing municipal sewer backup.

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