Category Archives: Blog

Simple Sump Pump Maintenance

Whether your house came with a sump pump, or you installed one yourself, properly maintaining your sump pump system is key to making sure it works when you need it. The last thing you want is to find out your sump pump isn’t working while your basement floods from a heavy rain. It may take a professional to install your sump pump system, but you do not need to be a professional to do simple maintenance that will extend your pump’s lifespan.

Sump pumps are considered low-maintenance, but that doesn’t mean no-maintenance. You should test your sump pump periodically. This is as simple as dumping a bucket of water into the sump pit. The sump pump should turn on, remove the water, and shut itself off.

Because sump pumps are sucking in ground water, it is possible for them to become clogged. Check the inlet screen for any debris or blockage. If there are any obstructions remove them. Make sure the discharge line is not blocked.

Some sump pump systems have a battery backup system in the event of a power outage, like during a severe storm. If your system does have a battery backup, ensure it still holds a charge and works. These batteries should be replaced every 2-3 years.

Once a year it is recommended to unplug your sump pump and give it a thorough cleaning. Remove the pump from the sump pit and flush it with clean water, making sure to remove any dirt or rocks from the system. With the pump out, take the opportunity to clean out the pit itself, removing any mud build up or rocks. You don’t want to take the time to clean the pump only to have it clog right back up with the debris in the pit. Once everything is cleaned out, reconnect the power and test the system by dumping a bucket of water into the pit.

Owning a sump pump can be a lifesaver for your basement, especially if you live in an area with severe weather. You do not want to figure out that your sump pump isn’t working during a big storm. By performing simple maintenance and checks on your sump pump system, you can ensure it will keep working for years to come.

close up of pressure gauge

What is Hydrostatic Pressure?

Have you ever wondered exactly what is making your basement walls crack and bow? If you live in Nebraska and have water in your basement, there is a good chance that this is due to hydrostatic pressure, but what exactly does that mean?

Hydrostatic pressure is the force the water in the soil exerts onto your foundation. Since concrete is a porous material, once the hydrostatic pressure in the soil becomes too great it can cause water leakage into your basement. If the hydrostatic pressure becomes too high, it can start to crack and bow your foundation walls.

Since hydrostatic pressure is a result of groundwater pushing against your foundation, the pressure on your walls ebbs and flows with the seasons. The problem could get worse during rainy months as the soil becomes over saturated, and get better during dry months when there is little to no groundwater applying pressure to your foundation.

Unfortunately, there is no way to fully stop hydrostatic pressure as it is a force of nature, but there are ways to minimize its effects. You can address the superficial issues by waterproofing and sealing your basement or installing a sump pump. Either of these options would be viable if there are no glaring issues with foundation cracks or you live in an arid climate. If there are serious structural issues with your foundation or you live in a wet climate or an area with clay soil, there are solutions. Call us today to set up your free, no obligation estimate.

Cracked Wall

What the Cracks in Your Walls are Telling You

Cracks in concrete are a fact of life. Even the newest poured concrete can develop cracks as it settles and temperatures change. Monitoring any cracks your walls or floors develop can head off any serious issues before they get out of hand.

Cracks in foundation walls have the possibility of getting much worse. Cracks can lead to basement flooding and other serious issues.

It is important to monitor cracks in your walls. If you suspect that any cracks are spreading, or widening, stay on top of them. Mark off the ends of the crack with a pencil to see if the crack is spreading. Also mark several alignment lines along the crack at various points. If the alignment lines show up crooked in the future the crack is shifting unevenly and can be a serious problem. Mark the date next to any lines to see how quickly the cracks are spreading.

Cracks will not fix themselves, and if the crack is leaking it is extremely important to repair it immediately to avoid further damage.

Vertical or Diagonal Cracks

Vertical or diagonal cracks are not necessarily signs of serious foundation issues, but are usually a sign of a foundation settling. Vertical cracks often occur when concrete shrinks when it cures. If you run your finger along the crack and the sides are smooth, concrete shrinkage is the likely culprit. It is always a good idea to have a professional look at any cracks in your walls to make sure it is not a major issue.

Horizontal Cracks  

Horizontal cracks are often caused by pressure against the walls. These are more serious than vertical cracks and can be an indication of serious structural issues in your foundation. Poor drainage around the house can cause water to saturate the ground around the foundation and push against the walls. If the pressure from groundwater is too great the walls can fail and crack.

If you notice any cracks growing or shifting, or can fit a dime in the crack, contact us for a consultation.

diagram of how a sump pump works

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sump Pumps

Does your basement seem to flood all the time? One of the best investments you can make for you the overall health of your house, is a sump pump. First things first, what is a sump pump? A sump pump is a pump used to removed water from a sump basin. The sump basin is typically found in the basement of homes. Water may accumulate in the sump basin via any existing basement waterproofing system, or if your house sits below the water table, because of rain or ground water.

If your home sits below the water table and floods regularly, or your basement is constantly damp, a sump pump will direct the water away from the house. Typically, water will be directed to a storm drain or a dry well.

Sump pumps are usually wired directly into a home’s electrical system, and some will have a backup battery should the power fail. A backup up system is vital in cases of prolonged power outage, like during severe weather, and will ensure the sump does not overflow.

Now that you know what a sump pump is, let’s look at the two most common types of sump pumps:

Pedestal

These pumps have the motor above the sump itself. These are easier to maintain and service, but can be a bit of an eye sore. These usually have the longest life of any sump pump and are the cheapest.

Submersible

These pumps are contained within the sump and are completely sealed to prevent short circuiting. These are typically more expensive and have a shorter life, but can take in debris without clogging.

Even if your basement does not flood on a regular basis, a sump pump is great way to reduce basement moisture. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, more than 60% of homeowners have some sort of moisture in their basement. If you own a home and live in an area with a lot of snow or rain, a sump pump is a sound investment.

Male arm in glove painting abstract grey wide even linear pattern textured concrete brick wall background.

Concrete Painting – How to do it Right

This aint your normal paint job. Painting concrete is a whole other animal compared to painting drywall. Drywall can be painted in a day or two, you will need at least a week to properly paint cement. The trick lies in the cement itself, it breathes, absorbs moisture, and sucks up paint. We think concrete looks fine itself, but if you are set on painting your concrete, here are the steps.

1. Clean the Concrete

Now this involves more than just spraying it down with some water. Concrete is a porous substance by nature and tends to trap dirt, grease and grime. Dirt and grease can be removed by using trisodium phosphate. Remove any vines or moss with a power washer. After you have done this you may notice a white powder on the concrete called efflorescence, which occurs on moist cement. This can be removed with a masonry cleaner.

2. Strip any old paint  

 If you are painting basement walls, and there is an old layer paint, remove with a wire brush or a paint scraper. If you are working with outdoor concrete this can be accomplished with a pressure washer.

3. Seal Interior Concrete

Still want to keep going? If you’ve made it this far there are only a few more steps, but at this point you have clean concrete so we won’t blame you if you stop here. As previously stated, concrete is porous, and can absorb moisture. If you are painting interior concrete it is vital to seal the concrete. This will prevent moisture from seeping in underneath the paint and causing mold. Use a masonry sealer and follow the manufacturer’s directions on how many layers to apply and when. As well as keeping out moisture, this will also help seal any cracks that may be present, a win-win.

4. Prime the concrete

Almost there. Like painting drywall, concrete needs to be primed, and the type of primer you use will depend if you are painting interior or exterior concrete. Concrete primer, or block primer serves two purposes, it will fill any gaps and cracks, and present an even surface to paint on. After the primer is applied you will want to wait a minimum of eight hours before you paint, but no more than 30 days!

5. Paint the concrete

You’ve made it this far, so don’t mess up the type of paint. Masonry paint is designed to expand and contract with the concrete, whereas exterior paint will crack. You will also need a masonry brush as masonry paint is much thicker than normal house paint. If you have a paint sprayer make sure you consult with someone at the paint store so you don’t clog it with the thick paint.

You made it! Now you have some beautifully painted concrete!

Water in concrete

Waterproofing Your Basement

It’s every homeowner’s worst fear, you come home from work or a night out, you head down to the basement, and there’s water. Whether it is just a musty smell, wet patches on your walls, or standing water, any water infiltration into your basement is a serious problem. If you encounter any of these do not worry though, nearly half of all homes have these issues, and they can be fixed.

There are three main causes for a wet basement:

Condensation 
Runoff
Groundwater swelling

 

Condensation

Condensation occurs when warm, moist air, hits a cool foundation wall. You may see some wet patches on your basement walls. If you do discover a wet patch on your wall, you want to determine whether it is due to condensation or a more serious problem. Tape plastic wrap over the wet spot, sealing the edges with tape. Let the plastic wrap sit for a few days checking periodically. When you check it, if there is water on the inside of the plastic wrap, you have a leak and will want to consult a professional, but if the water is on the outside of the plastic wrap, it is just a condensation problem. Luckily condensation can be combatted simply and cheaply, open a window. By regularly ventilating your home, you allow the warm moist air to escape outside, as well as aerating your home. If the issue persists then you will need to look into getting a dehumidifier.

Runoff

The main causes of runoff are melting snow and rain. Walk around your property to make sure all downspouts are directing water away from your house and there is no pooling water near your foundation. Hydrostatic pressure can force runoff through cracks in your walls and flooring.

Groundwater swelling

Groundwater swelling occurs when the soil becomes overly saturated with water and causes a constant runoff problem. Most homes are not built with countermeasures to groundwater swelling so if this is a persistent issue you will need to consult a professional.

What you can do

If you do have cracks in your basement that water seeps in through, you can apply a concrete sealer. Concrete sealers are cheap and easy to use provided you follow the instructions. Concrete sealers can generally be applied to damp surfaces but any standing water should be removed. If the installation of a sump pump is required to keep your basement water free, you will need to contact a professional.

man smoothing concrete foundation

Preparing Your Home For Foundation and Concrete Repairs

Finding out that your home needs foundation repairs is less than exciting. Foundation repairs are generally more expensive and more invasive than a broken dishwasher or a leaky faucet, but they’re usually more important. If your home is facing structural issues, you could be compromising the safety of you and your family, which is why it’s important to get them fixed as soon as possible.

Having a professional team come in and work on your home may sound like a pain in the behind, but it doesn’t have to be as disruptive or stressful as you might think. Preparing for the crew before they arrive is the best way to ensure the process goes smoothly and efficiently. Before foundation specialists arrive at your home, complete these tasks to reduce any potential mishaps and get back to your normal life as soon as possible!

If the crew will be working inside:

  • Clear the work area and any pathways of movable furniture, items, or debris that could get in the way or become tripping hazards.
  • Remove pictures or other wall hangings from walls near the area being worked on.
  • Cover nearby furniture with a dropcloth for added protection.
  • If possible, make away-from-home plans during work times to escape the noise. The crew may try to keep quiet, but some noise and vibrations are inevitable.
  • If you’ll be at home, keep pets in kennels or rooms away from the work area.

 
If the crew will be working outside:

  • Move plants away from the perimeter of your home to avoid destruction and water/root damage. You can do this yourself or have a landscaping professional move them and then replant them when the job is done.
  • Do not redo landscaping or plant new shrubs/plants until the crew is completely finished.
  • Remove items or debris from the perimeter of the home.
  • Clear pathways that lead inside of your home of outdoor furniture, grills, decor, etc. The crew will likely need to get in and out of the house to monitor structure and lift.
  • Keep your driveway clear to accommodate work trucks. Having equipment as close as possible will reduce the time it takes to complete the project.

 
Preparing your home so it is work crew-friendly will make the task at hand easier and quicker for everyone involved. At Epp Concrete, we pride ourselves on being efficient, clean, and respectful of your home and family. We go the extra mile to ensure we get in and out quickly and your property does not get damaged in our process. For quality foundation, concrete, and waterproofing services, contact us today!

colorful row of homes covered in snow in the winter

Could Winter Weather Be Ruining My Foundation?

Having to shovel the driveway and spending and arm and a leg to heat your home aren’t the only drawbacks of winter in the Midwest. The cold temperatures also affect your home’s foundation, and may even be compromising its structural integrity. Get familiar with these adverse effects that winter can bear on your home as well as some ways to prevent them from happening:

Frost heave

Frost heave is a condition that causes a foundation to move upwards, leading to structural damage. When temperatures drop below freezing, moisture in the soil beneath a home freezes and expands. This expansion causes lateral pressure to the foundation above it and causes an upheaval movement. This movement can cause cracks in the walls, floors, and ceilings, which can lead to further damage.

Frozen discharge line

If your home has a sump pump, the discharge line is at risk of becoming frozen during the winter. The sump pump pushes excess water out of the home through the discharge line. If this line becomes frozen, water is forced back into the home and may cause basement flooding. To ensure the discharge line does not freeze, make sure it’s situated at a downward angle so water is not able to collect inside.

Leaks and Seepage

If and when temperatures warm up after a storm, the snow will begin to melt and seep into the soil surrounding your foundation. If the water becomes excessive, it can find its way into your basement through cracks, windows, doors, etc. and cause flooding. Peeling paint, musty odors, and dampness are signs that water is leaking into your home.

Ice Dams

When snow accumulates on a roof, rising heat from inside the home can cause it to melt. Water runs down the roof until it hits the eaves, which are not as warm as other parts of the roof, and it refreezes. A dam of ice begins to build and water is not able to flow off of the roof. Instead, it seeps into the home, causing cracks and rotting to walls and other structural components.

Clearly, winter temperatures and storms can cause some very unwanted damage to your home. To prevent these issues, it’s important to properly insulate your home to stabilize it and prevent heat from escaping. Most importantly, have any known problems (substantial cracks, settlement issues, etc.) fixed as soon as possible. Harsh conditions will only further these issues and you’ll be kicking yourself when they become severe.

For foundation, waterproofing, and concrete repairs and solutions this winter, contact the experts at Epp!

Gloved hand painting wall with a roller

How to Paint Concrete Foundations

 

A fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to freshen up any surface and bring it back to life. Painting concrete surfaces, however, can be a bit trickier than painting drywall, wood, metal, or other materials. Concrete is porous, meaning it can absorb and transport water (and paint), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be successfully covered using the correct products and techniques. If you feel your concrete walls, floors, or exterior foundations needs some sprucing up, follow these steps to make them look as good as the day you moved in!

  • Remove old paint. If you’re repainting concrete, it’s probably because the old paint is chipping or peeling away. For exterior surfaces, remove any large vines or other debris from the surface and then use a power washer to remove old paint. If you’re painting an interior surface, use a wire brush, paint scraper, and some good ol’ fashioned elbow grease.

 

  • Clean the surface. Because of its porosity, dirt, grease, and other grime gets trapped in concrete over time. After you’ve removed the old paint, you’ll want to thoroughly clean your surface to ensure the new paint will stick well. The force of a power washer is usually enough to clean exterior surfaces, but you’ll want to use a separate cleaning agent for inside walls and floors. Trisodium phosphate, known as TSP and found at most hardware stores, is an effective cleaner for this task. When applying TSP, wear safety goggles and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  •  

  • Make repairs. After you’ve cleaned, fix any small cracks or surface blemishes with a simple concrete patch product and wait the recommended amount of time before proceeding. Of course, any large cracks or surface issues should be assessed by a professional, as they can indicate more serious foundation problems.

 

  • Seal and prime. As mentioned before, concrete will absorb and transport water, so it’s important to seal it before applying any paint. A sealer is especially important for basement walls and floors- areas that are susceptible to leaks, water damage, and mold growth. After the sealer has cured (usually this takes 5 to 7 days, depending on the manufacturer), apply a primer to the surface to fill the concrete’s pores and even out the surface. Ask a professional at your local hardware store to assist you in picking the right product(s) for your project, and then wait at least 8 hours for the primer to dry before moving on to the next step.

 

  • Paint the concrete. Finally, you’re ready to paint your surface. Use a formula specifically suited for concrete and apply it with a masonry brush or roller. Apply several thin coats rather than just one or two thick coats, waiting at least a day in between each application. After the final coat, wait the paint manufacturer’s recommended amount of drying/curing time before moving furniture back and using the space.

 
Giving the concrete in and around a home a fresh coat of paint is a project that often gets overlooked, but it can really make a space feel fresh and vibrant. Damaged concrete cannot be painted before it’s fixed, so give the experts at Epp a call for concrete repairs before you begin your painting project!

Epp Concrete van

What’s the Epp Crew Been Up To?

 

The past few months have been busy ones here at Epp Concrete! Our new PolyLift™ Concrete Leveling service has proved more effective and efficient than prior alternative services and is keeping our schedules booked! But even among the madness, we’ve added a few new awesome employees to the team and even picked up an award. Check it out!

Sierra Crees, Administrative Assistant at Epp Concrete
Sierra Crees, Administrative Assistant

Sierra Crees joined Epp Concrete back in June as the company’s Administrative Assistant. Sierra is originally from Friend, Nebraska but moved to Lincoln 10 years ago and is now studying law at UNL. At Epp, Sierra assists with scheduling appointments, following up with customers, and other general office operations. Sierra brings great customer service skills to the team and always brightens the office with a smile!

Bonnie Aksamit recently joined Epp Concrete as the new Director of Sales. She has over 15 years of sales experience and has worked in management in various industries. Bonnie’s husband is a Basement Specialist here at Epp and together, they have three children. We’re excited to welcome Bonnie’s sales experience and fun personality to the team!

Drew Huckins joined the team in early October and now works on the walls/new foundation side of Epp Concrete. Even though Drew is a newbie at Epp, he’s got experience in plumbing, remodeling, and security and sound systems. Welcome to the team, Drew!

Big news at Epp Concrete doesn’t stop at new faces. In late September, Epp won the Better Business Bureau Integrity Award! These awards focus on demonstrated ethical business practices with key stakeholders including customers, employees and community at large, rather than a company’s growth, profitability or popularity. We are very proud to receive this prestigious award, and we thank the Lincoln community for the role they’ve played in our success. Watch the video below:

We’re fortunate to continue to see success and growth at Epp Concrete, which means we’re looking for more new employees to become a part of our family. We’re currently seeking Foundation Repair crew members and Concrete Wall Setters. For more information or to apply, click here.

As always, we want to thank our hardworking employees and loyal customers for making Epp Concrete the best it can be. To get in contact with us about your next foundation or concrete project, visit our contact page today!