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 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.