Serving Northern Virginia & Southern Maryland
Common Problems

Seven Fabulous Uses for a Finished Basement

finished basement, basement family room, remodeling basementMany homeowners in Northern Virginia & Southern Maryland use their finished basement as a place for doing laundry storing seasonal or unused items. Have you ever considered lowering the floor in your basement to you can put in a finished basement and increase the amount of living area in your home? Following are some ideas for you and your family to make use of that extra space.

Add an Extra Bedroom and Bath

Whether your family has outgrown the number of bedrooms or you have frequent house guests, adding an extra bedroom and bath is a wonderful addition to your home. Teenagers would have their own bedroom to have a quiet place to study, watch TV, or play their own music. You and your house guests would appreciate the additional privacy and less congestion in the bathrooms. Try to place the bathroom adjacent to the bedroom with an entrance from the inside and away from traffic. Keep in mind that if you have a bedroom in your finished basement, you must have an egress window no more than 44 inches off the ground. You can create a step up or enlarge the window if necessary to meet code.

Add a Media Room

Most homeowners would prefer to create a large multipurpose media room rather than divide the basement into separate rooms.  A finished basement offers plenty of space to set up a media bookcase, a large screen TV, and an assortment of media devices. You could set up modular furniture to arrange the viewing based upon the size of your group. If you are serious about viewing, you could set up platform seating with the second row higher for better viewing. It wouldn’t hurt to consult an audio/video retailer with expertise in proper placement of screens and speakers for optimal viewing. Of course you’ll want to insulate the walls and ceiling to dampen the sound.

Add a Personal Gym

Having that extra height in the ceiling is critical for adding a personal gym for working out. Pull-up machines and treadmills require maximum height because you need to allow room for your own height. Besides height, you also want to make sure you can get the equipment down into the basement through a stairway or egress window. Make certain that the equipment is bolted together, not welded, so you can disassemble it in order to get it around a 90-degree turn.

Add a Home Office

Ideally this should be the same size as a bedroom. Bear in mind that if you add a closet for storage, it is technically considered a bedroom, and you will be expected to add an egress window. As long as you are building a finished basement, adding an egress window for a fire or medical emergency is a good idea regardless. Unlike a bedroom, a home office doesn’t require privacy, so you might consider adding a double set of French doors to maximize light and a feeling of openness.

Add a Teen Room

media room, basement apartment, family roomTeens love their privacy and having a place to go to play music, watch videos and games, do homework and projects, and simply hang out with their friends. You’ll also appreciate having less noise and more privacy yourself. What’s more important, you’ll know that they and their friends are having a good time in a safe place where you have a chance to meet their friends and be more aware of their activities. You may want to have a refrigerator downstairs for beverages, but you won’t need to loan out your car as often.

Add a Bar and Wine Cellar

For additional entertaining options, many homeowners enjoy adding a bar and wine cellar in addition to a media room. Keep in mind that a bar is almost as much expense as a full kitchen. If you don’t need a full bar, a less expensive option is putting in a horizontal bank of cabinets from a modular furniture retailer that you can use as a buffet and add a fridge. Also, you’ll want to allow enough area for tables and chairs and setting up multiple tables for large parties. Some families even set up a game table with a top that doubles as a dining table.

Add a Basement Apartment

Looking for an additional source of income or living space for a family member? Adding an apartment is no different than finishing out any other type of basement space. You’ll need to install an egress window and check to see if you neighborhood is zoned for multifamily residences. In some cases, only family members are permitted to occupy a finished basement apartment. It’s also a good idea to have their utilities, including cable, separate so they can be responsible for paying their own.

Things to Consider before Adding a Finished Basement

For any basement project, it’s not a bad idea to hire a general basement contractor to make certain everything meets code and all permits are obtained. Before you begin to build, you’ll also want to hire a basement foundation and waterproofing professional, such as Basement Masters Waterproofing, to make sure everything is ready for your new basement, including the following:

Basement Underpinning/Lowering Floors – This will ensure your ceiling is high enough for your family activities.

Basement Waterproofing – Installing drainage tiles, sump pump, and humidifier will keep the basement safe and dry.

Egress Windows/Window Wells – These are required if you have a bedroom or sleeping area in the basement.

Insulation – You’ll definitely want to add insulation to maintain an even temperature and for sound-proofing.

Contact Basement Masters Waterproofing to Prepare Your Finished Basement

If you decide to build your dream basement, contact Basement Masters Waterproofing to get it ready for you. We have experience using underpinning to lower basement floors so you have an adequate ceiling heights. Also, we can work with your builder to coordinate placement of the egress windows, drainage system, and sump pump. We have won Angie’s List Super Service Award six years straight!  Contact us today!

Lowering a Basement Floor

Lowering Floors in Northern Virginia

basement underpinning, lowering floor, lowering a basement floorHave you ever thought about lowering a basement floor in your home in order to have additional living space? Perhaps you hesitated because the ceiling was too low. Believe it or not, many Virginia and Maryland homeowners have had the floors lowered the floors in their basements in order to create  an entertainment room, bedroom, or work area or add an apartment.

Basement Masters Waterproofing has lowered the floors of many homes in the Northern Virginia area. The most common method to lower a basement floor is doing basement underpinning. This requires digging beneath the footings of the home (the concrete that distributes the foundation load) and building additional concrete beneath the current foundation. Once the deeper foundation is built, the old basement floor is removed and replaced with a newer, deeper one.

Steps in Underpinning a Foundation and Lowering a Basement Floor

There are a series of steps involved in underpinning the foundation and building a lower basement floor.

  • Several 4-feet wide holes are built beneath the footings of the current foundation. These are separated by 8-feet wide areas of untouched soil.
  • The newly-dug holes are filled with concrete, allowing approximately 2″ at the top for non-shrink grout in order to avoid pockets between the top of the underpinning and bottom of the footing.
  • Next, the adjacent 4-feet wide segments are excavated and filled with concrete. Essentially the entire footing of the home is extended lower into the ground.
  • Once excavated, steel push piers are installed beneath the foundation. The push piers  are anchored deep into the soil and the weight of the foundation is distributed across the piers. At that point the foundation is lifted into its proper position.
  • The current basement floor is then removed and additional soil is removed from the basement.
  • Once the basement is at the proper depth, a new concrete floor is poured without disturbing the foundation walls of the structure.
  • After the excavation is complete, any soil removed from the outside of the home is replaced so that the house looks the same as it did before.

Things to Consider When Lowering the Basement Floor

Besides thinking about the depth of the new basement floor, there are several things you need to consider before starting this project.

  • Check that the sewer connection is not above the floor level. Otherwise you may need to install a sanitary ejection pump to remove water and sewage.
  • Check that the underpinning doesn’t interfere with the stable soil next door. In some cases, your neighbor’s home may require underpinning also.
  • Check to be sure that the water table is at least 24″ below the level of the new basement floor. Otherwise you’ll have problems with water seepage in your basement.
  • If you plan to have a sleeping area in the new basement, building codes usually require that you install an egress window so your family members or renters can escape in case of fire.
  • As long as you are installing a new basement floor, plan on installing interior waterproofing tiles, a sump pump, and a dehumidifier to keep your new living area dry.
  • When putting in new drywall and ceiling tiles, install new insulation to keep the area at a comfortable temperature year round.

Contact Basement Masters for Lowering a Basement Floor

Basement Masters Waterproofing has won the Angie’s List Super Service Award for the past five years. When you decide to lower your basement floor, don’t hesitate to contact  the experts at Basement Masters Waterproofing. We have the products and experience to help you build your new basement in Northern Virginia or Maryland. Contact us today for a free estimate!

Basement Waterproofing in Virginia and Maryland

Basement Waterproofing in Virginia and Maryland

How Does Water Enter Basements in Virginia and Maryland?

wet basement virginia, wet basement maryland, water in basementBasement waterproofing is a common need in Virginia and Maryland because they are located along the East Coast and are susceptible to tropical storms. These storms produce heavy rain and cause water to settle around and beneath your home’s foundation, creating the following conditions:

  • Hydro-static pressure – Water pressure against the walls causes cracking and bowing in the walls and eventually allows water to seep into the basement.
  • Soil contraction and expansion – Contraction and expansion of the soil beneath the foundation creates voids beneath the concrete and may cause it to crack or become uneven, allowing water to seep into the basement floor.
  • Freezing and thawing cycles – Cycles of freezing and thawing may damage to the walls and floor of the foundation soil and cause water seepage.
  • Leaking crawlspace and windows – Excess rain may enter the basement through the crawlspace and windows that are not sealed properly or window wells that do not drain properly.
  • Damaged plumbing – Pipes may be leaking into the basement, or drains may be blocked or backing up into the basement during heavy rains.
  • Inadequate waterproofing – Homes with interior waterproofing systems may have blocked or damaged drain tiles or inadequate sump pump capacity for heavy rainfalls.

What Problems Are Caused by a Wet Basement?

wet basement virginia, wet basement maryland, basement waterproofingUnless the basement is finished with drywall, flooring, and furnishings, many homeowners tend to tolerate a little bit of water in their basements after a heavy rain. Ignoring a wet basement, however, can lead to unexpected consequences over time, including the following:

  • Mold and mildew – Mold and mildew grow well in the dark, moist environment of a wet basement.
  • Dry rot – Dry rot, which causes wood deterioration also thrives in a moist environment and compromises the structural integrity of your entire home.
  • Insect infestations – Insects such as earwigs, centipedes, silverfish, and termites thrive in wet basements, as do the spiders that eat them. 
  • Poor air quality – A moist basement not only affects the air quality in the basement but the entire home, leading to potentially serious problems with allergies and asthma.
  • Cracks in walls and floors – Without adequate waterproofing, the concrete in walls and floors of the basement will eventually develop cracks that allow additional water to seep into the basement.
  • Bowed and leaning walls – After a period of time, excess hydro-static pressure will cause basement walls to lean or bow.
  • Foundation failure – Eventually, problems caused by excess water in the basement may lead to serious foundation failure and permanent damage to the overall structure of your home.

How Can Wet Basement Problems Be Solved?

Basement Masters Waterproofing offers a number of solutions to repair current problems and prevent future problems caused by a wet basement. Depending upon the nature of the problem, following are some of the services we offer. For further information on each of these services, simply click the link.

Wall Crack Repair

At Basement Masters Waterproofing, we fill wall cracks with epoxy injections that not only prevent water seepage but make the wall stronger. In some case, we do carbon fiber repair which corrects problems with bowing or leaning walls.

Interior Drainage Systems

Interior drainage systems involve digging a small trench on the inside perimeter of the basement walls and installing a drainage pipe to route the water to a sump pump well at the lowest end of the basement. As the well fills, the sump pump removes the water a safe distance away from the house. In case of power outages, we also install battery-operated, backup sump pumps.

Exterior Drainage Systems

Exterior drainage systems keep water from entering your basement in the first place. These include everything from gutters and downspouts to safely remove water from your roof to catch basins, drainage ditches, and channel drains to route water away from your yard and home’s foundation.

Crawl Space Repair

We do crawl space encapsulation with “System Seal” products that keep water out of your crawl space. Because it is estimated that 40-50% of all indoor air originates in the basement and crawl space of your home, this along with installing dehumidifiers improves overall air quality and reduces energy costs.

Foundation and Repair

In addition to repairing foundation cracks with epoxy injections, we install wall anchors to support leaning and bowing walls and carbon fiber strips to seal cracks and provide additional wall strength. Basement Masters Waterproofing also offers footing excavation repair with push piers to provide extra foundation support for the weight of the structure.

Contact Basement Masters Waterproofing for Basement Waterproofing Solutions

Basement Masters Waterproofing has years of experience in doing basement waterproofing and foundation repair services in Virginia and Maryland. We will work within your budget and want you to know that we understand your foundation and waterproofing issues are as individual as your home is. We can give you an estimate on your repairs, and you can be assured we will get the job done right. It is no accident that Basement Masters Waterproofing has won Angie’s List Super Service Award for the past five years! Contact us today!

Poor Yard Drainage after Heavy Rains?

Recent Problems with Poor Yard Drainage?

poor yard drainage, flooded yard virginia, water in yardAfter recent heavy rains, Basement Masters Waterproofing has received many calls from Virginia and Maryland homeowners because of wet basements and crawl spaces. Often this is due to poor yard drainage from lawns, driveways, and sidewalks which have slow run-off or force water to flow in the wrong direction.

Problems with Poor Yard Drainage

Poor yard drainage at your Virginia or Maryland home can lead to many problems in your home’s basement and crawlspaces, lawn and gardens, and concrete slabs and foundations, including the following:

  • Cracking and sinking of your home’s foundation and exterior concrete surfaces
  • Water seepage into your home’s basement and crawlspace
  • Lawn problems and diseases due to fungus and insects
  • Poor tree, shrub, and plant growth due to water-saturated soil
  • Muddy lawns so children and pets have nowhere to play

Causes of Poor Yard Drainage

Lawn drainage problems are common in most areas of Virginia and Maryland. Following are some of the reasons for poor lawn drainage:

  • Soil conditions next to the foundation which retain water and increase hydrostatic pressure
  • Improper grading or drainage of the soil near the home’s foundation
  • Patios, sidewalks, and driveways with improper drainage

Prevention of Poor Yard Drainage

poor yard drainage, flooded basement Virginia, water in basement Virginiae best way to prevent yard drainage problems is to provide additional ways for excess water to flow away from your home’s yard and foundation. Some solutions include:

  • Digging trenches filled with rocks to catch excess water
  • Installing exterior drainage systems to remove standing water from the yard
  • Installing, repairing, or cleaning gutters and downspouts to allow water to flow away from your home’s foundation

At Basement Masters Waterproofing, one of our specialties is outdoor water management. We install exterior drainage systems, build French drain systems, and do excavation to keep excess water out of your yard.

Repairing Problems Caused by Poor Yard Drainage

Foundation Repair

If poor yard drainage has led any of the following foundation problems, Basement Masters Waterproofing has the experience and tools to diagnose and repair them:

  • Cracks in foundation walls or floor
  • Leaning or bulging foundation walls
  • Settling or sinking of foundation floors

At Basement Masters Waterproofing, we use only the finest foundation repair products and can assure you that your foundation will be stronger, more stable, and last for many years.

Basement Waterproofing

If poor yard drainage has caused water to seep into your basement or crawlspace, Basement Masters Waterproofing provides expert basement waterproofing services. Our services include repairing leaking cracks, installing interior drainage tiles, and installing a sump pump and backup sump pump to keep excess water from damaging your floor coverings, furniture, and possessions. Wherever you live in Virginia or Maryland, we can protect your basement from further water damage and potential foundation failure.

Crawlspace Waterproofing

If poor yard drainage has led to a wet or damp crawlspace, Basement Masters Waterproofing provides professional crawlspace recovery services. We can seal, encapsulate, and dehumidify your crawlspace to prevent mold and mildew, insects, and dry rot caused by too much moisture. This protects your structure from deteriorating, improves air quality at all levels of your home, and may lower your energy bills by 10 to 20%.

BMW Can Solve All of Your Yard Drainage Issues

Whatever problems and consequences your  home is suffering due to poor yard drainage, Basement Masters Waterproofing is there to provide the professional services, quality products, and outstanding customer service you expect. There is a good reason why Virginia and Maryland homeowners have turned to us for foundation repair, basement waterproofing, and crawlspace repair services. We have been on Angie’s List Super Service Award list five years in a row!

Don’t let recent rains get you down! We are available to repair any problems you have and protect your home from damage due to poor yard drainage. Contact us today!

Is It Better to Repair Basement Leaks Inside or Outside?

Should you repair basement leaks from the inside or the outside?

repair basement leaks, crack repair, basement leaks RichmondAt Basement Masters Waterproofing one of the most common questions our Virginia and Maryland homeowners ask is, “Is it better to repair basement leaks from the inside or the outside?” One of the reasons they ask is because the advice from the Internet often differs from that of basement waterproofing professionals.

Most basement leak repairs, regardless if for a brick, cement block, or concrete foundation, can be performed from the inside or the outside of the home. If you have a poured concrete foundation, both interior and exterior waterproofing repairs can be effective in preventing a wet basement. Exterior leak repair can be more desirable and less costly under a limited number of following circumstances:

  • The cost and time of removing and replacing interior walls and furnishings, such as wood paneling and built-in bookcases or a brick fireplace is prohibitive.
  • Excavation work is required anyway to repair a bowed wall, add or repair external drainage systems, or correct composition, voids, or grading with the soil surrounding the foundation.

However, in the majority of cases, interior waterproofing is more effective and efficient than doing exterior excavation, wall repair, and replacement of soil, utility    lines, drainage systems, decks, and landscaping.

Why Interior Repair is Usually a Better Approach

Wet basements can be caused by a number of problems. From our experience, the best approach to a leaky basement comes from the inside.

It takes less time

It takes a great deal of time and effort to remove and replace soil, exterior drainage systems, decks, fences, landscaping, and utility lines outside of foundation walls. There is also an increased risk of damaging tiles, utility lines, and root systems and requiring additional time to repair them.

It is less expensive

Injecting into an interior cracks may cost several 100’s of dollars, but removing and replacing soil and landscaping may cost several 1000’s. Also there is less risk of additional costs for repairing and replacing damaged tiles, utilities, fences, decks, and landscaping.

It can be done during any weather

Exterior work cannot be done when the ground is frozen or wet. Also, it requires an entire crew to be scheduled during dry weather. Work on other projects may delay their ability to work on yours. Interior crack injection can be performed during any weather and requires only one person.

It detects the source of the leak

If the problem isn’t visible on the inside walls, you can’t be certain of the source of the water. From the outside, there could be any number of rod holes leakng. The only way to know the exact source of the leak is to observe the entire interior wall from the inside.

It repairs voids in the wall

Injecting a polymer into cracks in foundation walls actually fills the voids all the way through the wall while exterior repair only patches the outside.

It lasts longer than concrete patches

Concrete patches will eventually crack and leak due to the same conditions in the soil that caused the leak in the foundation in the first place. Polymers are waterproof and expand and contract during changes in temperature.

It is less dangerous

Anytime crews dig a hole on the outside of a foundation wall, there is always an increased risk that the soil will cave in or someone may trip and fall on the excavation site.

Quality of the Repair Depends on the Person Doing It

From a warranty standpoint, whether the leak repair is done from the inside or outside doesn’t seem to matter. Both methods are commonplace in the industry, and if exterior repairs weren’t effective, those contractors would be out of business.  Like anything else, the quality of the work is the best determinant of the success of a repair.

What is most important is the skill and attitude of the waterproofing professional working on your basement leak. They must be able to make an accurate diagnosis of the problem and repair the leak without taking any shortcuts. The reputation of the contractor and personal testimonials are often the best way to judge who will do the best job fixing your basement leak.

Angie’s List Recommends Basement Masters Waterproofing

Basement Masters Waterproofing has won Angie’s List Super Service Award for Outstanding Customer Service 5 years in a row. When you hire us, you have assurance that you are hiring the best basement waterproofing contractor in the Northern Virginia and Maryland area. We don’t simply stand on our reputation, we are committed to providing the best products and services to every customer we serve.

If you have a leak in your basement, call Basement Masters Waterproofing for a free inspection by our “Crack Crew”. We will provide you a fair estimate and repair your basement’s leak to your complete satisfaction. Contact us today!





Angie’s List Recommends Basement Masters Waterproofing

Water in Your Basement after Heavy Rains?
wet basement Richmond, water in basement, basement waterproofing

After last weekend’s heavy rains, many Richmond area homeowners are having problems with excess water in their basements. Heavy rainfall can produce a variety of problems in your basement:

  • Leaking through cracks in the floor and walls
  • Pools of water and flooding due to poor basement drainage and sump pump
  • Flooding due to loss of power to the sump pump and lack of a backup sump pump

Whatever your problem, contact Basement Masters Waterproofing today.

Angie’s List Recommend Basement Masters Waterproofing

Basement Masters Waterproofing has won Angie’s List Super Service Award for Outstanding Customer Service 5 years in a row.

Whether you are having a water emergency or ongoing problem, Basement Masters Waterproofing can help remove basement water and prevent further water seepage or flooding in your Richmond, VA area basement. Keeping a dry and healthy home is a priority for us, and we have a wide range of products and services to restore your wet basement, fix a failing foundation, and install a basement drainage system and sump pump.

Besides basement waterproofing and foundation repair, Basement Masters Waterproofing also provides    repairs to your driveway, sidewalk or patio, installs egress windows/window wells, and waterproofs your crawl space. Our experts will address your situation with a solution custom-fitted to your needs.

We Serve All of Northern Virginia and Parts of Maryland

We provide basement waterproofing services in all of Northern Virginia including, Arlington, Fairfax, Alexandria, Springfield, Reston, Herndon, Sterling, Falls Church, Vienna, Manassas, Gainesville, Burke, Annandale, Culpepper, Warrenton, Bristow, Arlington County, Fairfax County and Prince William County.  We also serve the basement waterproofing needs for many cities in Maryland, including Accokeek, Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Maryland City, Potomac, Rockville, and Silver Spring.

At Basement Masters Waterproofing, we take pride in our integrity and innovation. It is our mission to provide you with the best service and products to prepare you for any weather emergency.  Contact  us today!





Problems with Dirt Floors in Crawl Spaces

Why are dirt floors in crawl spaces a problem?

crawl space encapsulation VA, crawl space dirt floor, crawl spaces Virginia, energy efficiency

Homes built in the 50’s and 60’s often have crawl spaces rather than basements because they were less expensive to build. Those having crawl spaces with dirt floors have additional problems related to elevated humidity levels, including poor air quality, mold and mildew, dry rot, and structural damage.

Eventually local building codes began to require that all dirt crawl spaces be built with vents and a vapor barrier over the floor. A vapor  barrier is a piece of polyethylene plastic that is sealed with tape at the edges of the crawlspace. It is designed to keep ground moisture out of the crawlspace. Often installing a vapor barrier is not enough, and scientists recommended crawl space encapsulation as the best solution.

Why is crawl space encapsulation recommended?

Sometimes simply installing vents and a vapor barrier over a dirt crawl space doesn’t solve all of the problems. Buildings may continue to have issues with mold and mildew, dry rot, and structural damage.  Scientists discovered ground moisture was not the only source of moisture. Water continues to seep through the concrete block walls and crawlspace vents. Especially during the summer months, the vapor barrier and vents make the humidity problem even worse.

What happens when the relative humidity is too high?

Because of the difference in temperature between the crawl space and outside air on warm summer days, the relative humidity inside increases by 20 percent for each 10 degree temperature difference between the inside and outside. In other words, if the outside temperature rises to 80 degrees, while the inside temperature remains 70 degrees, there is a 20 rise in relative humidity levels. At 90 degrees, the difference is 40 percent.

Whenever the relative humidity levels within the crawl space rise above 65 percent, mold and mildew begin to develop. The continued growth of mold and mildew eventually weakens the structural integrity of the home. In addition, it negatively affects the air quality inside the home. The high humidity also decreases the energy efficiency of your home.

Why is crawl space encapsulation the best solution?

A number of reputable organizations, including Advanced Energy, Habitat for Humanity, and Building Science Corp, studied the crawl space humidity problems and concluded that the best way to treat crawl spaces in either new or old construction was to implement crawl space encapsulation. Today’s building scientists have proven that crawl space encapsulation controls both moisture and overall air quality. They also discovered it improved a home’s overall energy efficiency by 10 to 20 percent.

What is Crawl Space Encapsulation?

Crawl Space Encapsulation involves three primary steps:

  1. A heavy-duty plastic liner is attached and completely sealed to both ground and foundation walls to prevent moisture from entering the crawl space.
  2. All vents and openings are completely sealed to prevent unconditioned outside air from entering the crawl space.
  3. Inside air is either conditioned or dehumidified to prevent condensation.

Professional Crawl Space Encapsulation

While it is relatively easy to put plastic over a dirt floor, complete crawl space encapsulation with proper venting and air conditioning is something only an expert can do. At Basement Masters Waterproofing, we specialize in dirt floor crawl space encapsulation projects in order to prevent mold and mildew, insure good air quality for your family, and keep your home energy efficient. Contact us today!





Importance of Egress Windows in Your Basement

Why are Egress Windows Important?

egress window installation, basement egress window, egress window VA

If you own a home with a basement in northern Virginia or southern Maryland, there are several reasons why you would want to install an egress window. The most important reason is that egress windows save lives. More than 90% of the communities in Virginia and Maryland have some sort of code regarding placement of egress windows for new construction or remodeling of  basement bedrooms and apartments. Basement Masters Waterproofing offers top quality egress windows and egress window well products and installations through our  Egress Express team.

Egress Windows Allow Family Members to Escape a Fire

A fire in a home can occur anytime. Because fire, heat and smoke rise, experts advise to remain as low as possible in the case of a fire. The basement is the lowest level of the house and an ideal place to install an egress window. In case of a fire, it not only allows family members to escape from the basement, but it provides an additional exit through the basement in case exits on the upper floors are blocked by smoke or flames.

Egress Windows Allow Firefighters Alternative Entry

In case of a fire or another emergency, egress windows allow firefighters and emergency personnel to enter the home with all their gear. If the entrances on the main floor are blocked by smoke or flame, an egress window provides a way to enter the home with less likelihood of causing a back draft, reintroducing oxygen into the flames by breaking a window or opening a door. Also, in case someone has fallen or been injured in the basement, breaking through an egress window might save valuable minutes to provide aid.

Egress Windows Provide Light

No one likes a dark, dreary basement. Especially if the basement is to be used as an additional living area, installing an egress window is an ideal way to provide natural light. It is also a great idea for gardeners and indoor plant growers. An otherwise dark corner quickly becomes an ideal place to store outdoor plants during the winter and to start seedlings for spring planting.

Egress Windows are Required by Law

In most communities in Virginia, if you are building a one- or two-story home with a basement or remodeling your basement to add an apartment or extra bedroom, you are required by law to provide an egress window. These laws are strictly enforced in new residential homes. Even if you currently have egress windows in your Virginia basement, it is always good to check to see if they are up to date on recent code requirements. While you may be tempted to save a few dollars because you added a basement bedroom before the current codes were in effect, your family’s safety should always be your top priority.

Egress Window Wells

egress window well, egress window well ladder, basement escape window

When you install an egress window in northern Virginia or southern Maryland, you will also need to install an egress window well. An egress window well creates a space for a family member or tenant to exit the egress window in the basement. It also allows a firefighter or medical emergency person to enter the basement with a full set of equipment. You have an option to leave an egress window well uncovered or covered with easy to remove clear plastic. There are few things to consider when installing an egress window well in your basement:

  • Make sure that all of your family members know how to open an egress window. Place a sturdy chair or step stool nearby in case they need it.
  • If you have small children sleeping in the basement, be sure that the window well isn’t too deep or install a ladder.
  • If you have a deck over the egress window, make sure there is enough space for you to get out.
  • Keep the space in front of the egress window free of obstructions. Don’t place furniture or plants directly in front of the window.
  • Keep the egress window well clear of water and debris. In an emergency, you want to assure that there are no obstacles to prevent easy exiting or entering the egress window.

Having these key items set into place before a fire or other emergency occurs can save your family’s lives.

Contact the Egress Express Team!

Contact our team at Egress Express today to schedule your egress window installation. We are the leading installer and service provider of egress windows and egress window wells in northern Virginia and southern Maryland.





Mold and Mildew in the Winter

Mold growth and mildew are not just summer afflictions. In fact, mold and mildew are intensified during the winter months, especially in Virginia. As the weather gets cooler and wetter, homeowners tend to lock down their homes to keep warm air inside; and if a home has energy efficient treatments, it is heavily insulated and traps moisture. Without a circulation of fresh air, airborne spores can increase the likelihood of mold and mildew stains in the home; and as the mold grows, it compromises the strength and integrity of your structure.

Common Areas for Mold Growth in Winter

mold growth in VA winterIn a warm house, mold and mildew can grow in the following areas:

  • Exterior of drywall, sheetrock, and corners of the room
  • Basements
  • Attics
  • Crawl spaces
  • Behind a wall
  • Under flooring
  • Above ceiling tiles
  • Bathrooms/showers

Tips to Prevent Mold and Mildew in Winter

  • Keep indoor humidity between 35%-45% or below 60%.
  • Place a dehumidifier in the room to lower moisture levels.
  • Put ceiling fans in reverse.
  • Clean ductwork, filters, and air conditioning (HVAC) drip pans.
  • Clean and repair gutters.
  • Use an exhaust fan after cooking and washing dishes.
  • Open windows after showering.
  • Repair foundation cracks in the basement.
  • If you have water leaks, inspect the outside drainage system.
  • Cover the soil in the crawl space with a vapor barrier. If your crawl space has vents, close them in the summer and open them during the winter months.
  • Repair roof and window leaks.
  • Open closet doors to allow the air to circulate.
  • Install a waterproofing system, such as a sump pump.

The number one key to preventing mold and mildew is to keep your home dry and clean. If you need a professional to assess your property for signs of moisture, contact our experts today. We’ll locate the source and provide a waterproofing solution to reduce moisture levels. We’ll ensure a safe, dry, and mold-free home in Virginia.

Waterproofing Terminology 101

Glossary of Common Basement Waterproofing Terminology

waterproofing terminologyAre you familiar with basement waterproofing? Do you know what it means? If you haven’t heard of waterproofing, then you are probably unaware of water damage and the importance of a dry basement. Before you call your waterproofing contractor in Virginia, read our waterproofing terminology so you can make the best decision for your home and family.

Basement: The lowest story of a home or building.

Basement Waterproofing: A method used to control and prevent basement flooding.

Carbon Fiber: Carbon fiber uses material strips made from carbon fibers. Because they do not stretch, they are used to waterproof basement walls. They also stop the growth of cracks.

Crawl Space: A shallow area under a structure. It usually contains access to plumbing and wiring. Without adequate waterproofing and ventilation, the air in crawl spaces can become stagnant and humid.

Downspout: The pipe that diverts rainwater from gutters and away from the foundation.

Drainage Systems: Consist of an interior drainage system and exterior drainage system to reduce excess water around and below the foundation.

Efflorescence: A white deposit that appears when soluble salts come to the surface on concrete. It can show up in moist conditions, condensation or when water is added to the surface.

Erosion: Soil erosion caused by flowing water. It causes water seepage through basements and cause damage to yards.

Epoxy Injections: The injection of low-viscosity materials to seal cracks and restore the strength of the concrete.

Exterior Waterproofing: A waterproofing method performed on the exterior of a home, yard or the surrounding area. It keeps water from entering foundations and directs water away from the foundation. Exterior waterproofing includes an exterior drainage system, erosion control, proper gutters, downspouts, and crack repair.

Interior Waterproofing: This method is done on the interior of the home. It diverts water away from basements and away from the home. Interior waterproofing uses sump pumps, crack repair, and sub-floor drainage systems.

Sump Pit: A hole used to accommodate a sump pump and collect water. A sump well liner is placed in the pit to keep the hole from collapsing.

Sump Pump: Sump pumps are placed below the ground of the foundation. They are designed to collect and remove water using a discharge pump. After the water is collected in the tank, it is discharged away from the home.

Vertical Cracks: Wall cracks usually caused by settlement or heaving walls.

Water Management System: This system consists of a drainage network along the perimeter of the basement. It removes water from the walls and under the foundation and directs it away from the home.

Waterproofing: A method designed to resist or prevent water damage.

For more information about basement waterproofing terminology, contact Basement Masters Waterproofing. We offer effective, reliable products to keep your foundation dry and stable.

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