Healthy Concrete

,

Simple Maintenance Keeps Concrete Healthy

Every now and then, we receive a rather frantic call from a customer who has discovered a small crack in their basement floor or a drip of water running down the basement wall.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, we are able to assure them this is nothing with which they need to be concerned. Everyone together now: Whew!

A few, small shrinkage cracks in both walls and slab concrete are normal and even expected. We advise homeowners to monitor them just to make sure they are not getting wider or leaking.

That said, there are a few things homeowners can do as routine maintenance practices to keep concrete as happy and healthy as the day it was poured.

1)   Invest in a battery back-up for the sump pump if you live in flood-prone areas. And change out the sump pump every five-to-seven years. Few homeowners realize this and discover it only after it’s too late … and the basement contents are floating.

2)   A good dehumidifier is a must in ANY basement.

3)   Don’t shut off the heat/cooling exchanges in the basement! You need to maintain good circulation with your HVAC system or you will have stale, stagnant air. Yuck.

4)   We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: Maintain a positive grade! That means that the grade falls away from the house. And while you’re at it, make sure those downspouts are draining a few feet out, away from your foundation.

5)   Mulch should NOT exceed four inches below the top of foundation wall. To do so is asking for water to spill over the foundation wall and come right into your basement.

6)    Concrete, especially in the drive way, needs to be sealed with high quality concrete sealer to prevent ice and salt damage and re-seal as needed. We believe the sealing work done by reputable companies like Midstate Sealing www.mid-statesealing.com provides the best results. Resist the temptation to run down to the nearest big box and buying a sealing kit. If you insist on doing it yourself, go to a concrete store or a company like Midstate Sealing to purchase the sealant.

7)   Snow and ice are no friends to concrete. (Who IS a friend to snow and ice? Never mind.) Try to keep the driveway and sidewalks clear of snow – especially under garage doors – to allow for freezing and thawing. NEVER use de-icers like salt or “melt” products as they are corrosive to concrete. If you need traction, use kitty litter or sand.

Following these simple maintenance tips will ensure your basement and other concrete will continue to bring you enjoyment for years to come.

 

Drainage Issues

, ,

Now’s the Time to Correct Drainage Issues

With the recent onslaught of afternoon thunderstorms (we’ve gone from Michigan weather to Florida weather in the course of a few days!), you may have noticed a little water in your basement. This may be the result of an insufficient slope away from your foundation or a sump pump that’s not in good, working order.

Typically graded during the initial sod installation, your grass may develop low and high areas from hidden underground piping or decomposing tree stumps that can negatively affect your yard’s entire slope. As a result, your lawn mowing is uneven and standing water accumulates in the low areas … or, even worse, runs into your basement or crawlspace. Correcting the grade involves filling the low areas with soil so that your yard has a continuous slope. And, you’re in luck. Now is the PERFECT time to tackle this task – during those weeks when grass is still vigorously growing and the chances of successful weed seed germination within the newly added soil are reduced.

So, how much slope?

A good slope to aim for when grading land extending out from a house foundation is about six inches for the first 10 feet (that’s a slope of 5 percent). For details on how to determine this slope, click here!

Once you determine your needs, you should spread well-draining soil with a crumbly texture to sprinkle on the low areas. Work your way down the grade and then return to your first low area and carefully spread the soil out using a rake, so that the grass blades have an even one-half inch layer of earth across the entire low area. You should be able to see all the grass blades above the newly added soil. Spread the soil on each low area using the rake until you complete all of your filling. Wait six weeks to repeat the filling process if your lawn’s grade still requires alteration. This time period allows the grass to grow and acclimate to the first soil layer.

Now, what about that sump pump?

It is important to keep the discharge point of your sump pump as far from your foundation as possible. The minimum distance should be 10 feet. Most discharge pipes have a flexible hose tightly attached to the pipe coming from the basement. During non-freezing weather this works just fine.

Grab your umbrella and take a walk around your home during the next heavy rain. If you see pooling near the foundation, corrections are necessary. Correcting the slope (as recommended above) is going to give this water a place to go. In addition, make sure to periodically check your system during the winter months. A frozen sump pump will damage your home as when the water begins to thaw it has no place to go … except your basement or crawl space.

An added side note, many local water utilities are paying equal attention to sump pump issues. Lebanon Utilities recently launched a “No Flood Zone” campaign, reminding residents that sump pumps should NOT be connected to sanitary sewers – which creates an inflow issue for stormwater as well as increasing the risk of sewage back-ups in basements.

After making these corrections, if you are still experiencing a leaky basement, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 317.896.2885 or contact us at info@customconcrete.com.

Commercial Construction Broadens Footprint

, ,

Meeting your Residential and Commercial Needs

From the time Custom Concrete poured its first foundation, the emphasis was largely residential work. From those roots, we’ve grown to be a well-known and trusted provider of residential concrete foundation work throughout Central Indiana.

That reputation and expertise in concrete lead us into a few small commercial projects that have ultimately become one of the fastest growing portions of our business.

In 2013, we completed a 715,000 sq. ft, concrete project for the Subaru Office/Distribution facility located in Lebanon, Ind. According to the Gordian Construction’s Senior Project Manager Craig Hetzer, the Custom Concrete commercial division wildly exceeded expectations. “Safety was a non-issue, all our milestone dates were met and the rather tight tolerance on slab flatness was exceeded,” he wrote to us after work was completed. “Instead of Custom Concrete being a risky hire, they turned out to be one of the strongest members of our construction team!” (You can read his entire letter here.)

Likewise, a 166,500 sq. ft. concrete project for Fastenal began Dec 13, 2013 and finished May 15, 2014, just seven days past the scheduled date (despite working through one of the worst winters in decades and losing 22 days to weather).

To see more of Custom Concrete’s commercial construction projects click here.

Increase Property Values

, ,

The Benefits of a Basement

We all know that a good, well-built house begins with a good foundation. But what if you could gain some added value out of that foundation?

You can! It’s called a “basement.”

Yes, the basement … For some of us, the basement was the epicenter of our teen years; for others, it’s the designated home office space. For homes of high style and fashion, it’s where family and friends gather in the home theatre.

When I talk with future homeowners about building their house, the subject of a basement is often part of the conversation. And here’s what I advise: The basement is the most cost-effective addition of living space you can achieve.

Every house must have a foundation with which there is a minimum amount of associated cost. With a comparatively minimal additional investment (an average of $15 a square foot depending on basement layout, grade, etc.) you gain additional living space as well as a substantial increase in property value. An added perk: according to the U.S. Department of Energy, a well-insulated basement can gain the average homeowner between $200 and $400 a year in heating and cooling costs. Read more

Easy Fixes to Prevent Basement Dampness and Flooding

, ,

Easy Fixes to Prevent Basement Dampness and Flooding

April showers might bring May flowers, but they can also bring on damp or flooding basements.

Every spring we receive a few calls from homeowners who are convinced that there’s an issue with their foundation … and almost always, that’s not the case.

Most damp or flooded basements are caused by things that are easily fixed … and even more easily prevented. Take a walk around your house and check out the following:

  • Downspouts – Clear them of leaves and other debris. If they are clogged, the water runs down the wall right into your basement. Likewise, downspouts should extend away from the house by several feet. Using the plastic “pleated” pipe you can find at any home improvement store is a great solution.
  • Make sure the grade of your lawn runs away from the house. Ideally, there should be at least 6 inches of slope within the first 10 feet away from the house. Also, it is very important to keep the grade at least 6 inches below the top of the wall or below the weep holes in the brick.  Elevating the grade (grass, mulch or hardscape) to high can cause water to run over the top of the foundation wall.
  • Sump pumps are one way to get rid of any extra moisture in your basement. Once installed, check periodically to ensure the pump fully functional and operating properly. Back up battery operated sump pumps are a great idea for those who experience frequent power outages – and remember, sump pumps should not be hooked into the sanitary sewer (allowing for sewer back ups in flooding conditions). Sump pumps should be installed to drain excess water into your yard or designated sub-surface drains.
  • During hot humid months, using a dehumidifier in the basement can reduce condensation on the walls, floors or any other cool smooth surface. This may work better after you’ve sealed air and duct leaks to reduce the amount of humid outdoor air you are bringing into the basement.

All of that said, our foundations are installed with an elaborate drainage and waterproofing system.  They are designed to prevent typical concrete shrinkage from leaking and to drain ground water.  By following these simple maintenance procedures, you significantly reduce your chance of dealing with a damp or wet basement.

Winter Impacts Custom Concrete

,

Concrete ‘s Winter Blues

Unless you were lucky enough to stay in say Florida or Hawaii for the winter, then you know this year’s Indiana winter has not been kind. This winter is among those in the record books with its brutal cold and seemingly endless snowfalls. The winter of 2013-2014 has had a major impact on the community as a whole compared to winters past.

Likewise, Custom Concrete and its production times have been impacted by the harshness of this winter season. Even with our winter concrete mix for slab work, temperatures must be at least 20 degrees and maintain 20 degrees or higher for a minimum of a six hour period. Safety is a priority at Custom Concrete. When road conditions are hazardous due to ice and blowing and drifting snow it is in the best interest of everyone to stay off the roads, be safe, and allow INDOT and DPW time to clear the roads. With the added risk of frost bite and hypothermia in a very short time, it has been imperative that our workers remain indoors for everyone’s well being.

How Bad Was It?

Many days this winter had temperatures in the single digits or below and wind chills as low as -40 degrees. We officially entered the Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 1.59.26 PM“snowiest winter on record” category in mid-February with 51.6 inches. In an average year Central Indiana receives 25.9” of snow for the whole season!.

Local government offices closed in the first wave of arctic temperatures and again during the second wave. Trash pick up was cancelled in Indianapolis neighborhoods on January 6th, 7th, 28th, and 29th as it was too cold for workers to be out. Nearly every grocery store in the area was completely wiped out just before the first Polar Vortex attack.

Many travel advisories and warnings were issued this winter season. Indy DPW used more than 61,000 tons of salt so far this winter, which is far more than the typical 33,000 tons used in an entire season. INDOT, which oversees the state highways and interstates, plowed close to 4.3 million miles and dispensed 265,000 tons of granular salt as well as 2.5 million gallons of the salt brine mixture.

Cold stress is a very real danger in the temperatures we have seen this winter. Those working outdoors are susceptible to frost bite, hypothermia, and even increased risk for heart attacks. In the winter elements the body loses heat far faster than it can produce heat. Hypothermia occurs when the core body temperature reaches below 95*F. Those with preexisting conditions, such as hypertension or heart disease, are more likely to have a heart attack when out in the winter weather because of the extra stress put on the body trying to keep itself warm.

As the Hoosier state begins to thaw, Custom Concrete crews will be out in full force. Throughout the winter, we’ve hired more crewmembers in preparation of workflow. We will be making logistical decisions to ensure we are able to effectively complete jobs. We are optimistic that we will continue to meet our customers’ needs and ask our customers to please be patient as we all dig out from this arctic winter!

Sources:

  • Indiana Department of Labor
  • Indiana Department of Transportation
  • OSHA
  • Westfield Washington Schools
  • Indianapolis Public Schools
  • NOAA

 

 

 

 

 

Quality Basements

A Quality Basement Provides Additional Living Space

A basement can provide your family with the extra living space you need. Space for a home theater, office, game and workout rooms, extra bedrooms or an apartment.

  • Cost Effective Square Footage. Double the livable square footage of a single-story home, or add 50% more space to a two-story home – at a fraction of the cost of an upper level living space.
  • Safety and Security. A warm, dry and well constructed concrete basement can provide your family with a safe haven from tornadoes, wind storms and of course concrete walls won’t burn or rot.
  • Storage and Utilities. Free up living space by adding a warm, dry basement for storage. Locate heating, plumbing, electrical, gas and other services in your basement for easy accessibility.

Excavation: The Important First Production Step

,

Excavation. The Important First Production Step During Concrete Construction

With many of Custom Concrete’s customer projects, excavation is the first step. Because of this, we believe that our crews need to be well equipped with the tools and knowledge necessary to ensure their work meets or exceeds our customer’s expectations.
Our Approach

Well Trained Crews

We have processes in place that ensure our crews are always provided with the necessary information for the job they are performing. We also continually provide crew training in multiple areas, including equipment, safety, organizational procedures, prep for the crews that will follow them on the site and of course customer expectations.
Equipped to Succeed

Custom Concrete takes great pride in managing our resources effectively with minimal waste. The fleet of equipment required to serve our customers is extensive. We go to great effort to care for this equipment and provide our crews with the tools they need, when they need them, in good working order.

Customer Service

Service Department

The focal point of Custom Concrete’s Service department is to provide quality professional service to our customers, in a timely manner.

By having a team dedicated to repairs and added items we can more quickly address your needs, alleviating wait time and miscommunication. It also allows us to keep our crews working on new foundations for our customers instead of splitting their time between larger projects and smaller repair projects.
Focused on Two Primary Areas of Customer Service

Waterproofing Issues / Crack Injection

Although it’s sometimes difficult to identify the source of these issues, we have a team of specialists in this area who know the importance of addressing these issues quickly. Restoring a dry basement and peace of mind.
Concrete Cutting / Coring

We have a highly experienced team ready to service a variety of concrete issues such as wall or slab cutting & saw joints. We can also add additional anchor bolts and core sleeves for utility lines.

Commercial Project Video

Commercial concrete construction.

Custom Concrete specializes in turnkey commercial concrete construction from retail to industrial projects.