Show Notes: Wet Basements, Tree Care and Trends – On the House

Show Notes: Wet Basements, Tree Care and Trends

By on February 13, 2018

It’s interesting how winter  and wet weather will find it’s way into our homes when we least expect it. Dampness in the basement is a big indicator something is not right somewhere inside or outside of the house.  Today we have tips for what to look for that might be causing the dampness in your basement. Are you are anxious to get outside for some fresh air and sunshine? Ready to start the spring yard clean-up, we have tree care tips for spring just for you.


Hong Kong Sun Raise Trading Chainsaw Recall

I don’t know about the rest of the country but here in California, the sun is already starting to shine, and the chilly winter days are coming to an end. This change in temperature may spark an urge to crawl out from underneath that mountain of empty cold medicine bottles and get outside to do some yard work.

But, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, you should double-check that chainsaw model number when you go to dust it off, because it may have a recall for a failing chain brake guard.

Yes, that’s right folks, just when you thought it was safe to go out and give your yard a much-needed manicure, the CPSC warns that Hong Kong Sun Rise Trading’s electric chainsaw will continue to operate even after the brake has been applied. Companies that have slapped their names on this particular chainsaw include Greenworks, Snapper, and even… Kobalt.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission states that there have been no reports of injury but recommends calling Hong Kong Sun Rise Trading at 888-266-7096 to find out if your chainsaw model is on that recall.

For more on this, please visit the show notes section at


 8 Solutions To Common Wet-Basement Problems

 Solving wet-basement problems is one of the most important things you can do to protect the value of your home and health of your family.

 Not only does a wet basement feel and smell nasty, it poses a great risk to your home’s value. Left unchecked, basement moisture can ruin floors and walls, encourage mold, even damage roofing.

Some wet basements are easy to cure simply by clearing gutters and by diverting gutter water away from the foundation. But if the problem comes from other sources—water flowing toward the house on the surface, seeping in from underground, or backing up through municipal storm drains—you must take more aggressive action.

Here are eight strategies to keep water out of your basement.

  1. Add Gutter Extensions

If downspouts are dumping water less than 5 feet away from your house, you can guide water farther out by adding plastic or metal gutter extensions.

But extensions aren’t the neatest or most effective long-term solution, especially if you’re likely to trip over them or run over them with a lawn mower. Permanent, underground drain pipe is invisible and capable of moving large quantities of gutter runoff much farther from your house.

For about $10 a foot, a landscaper or waterproofing contractor will dig a sloping trench and install pipe to carry the water safely away.

 Plug Gaps

If you see water dribbling into the basement through cracks or gaps around plumbing pipes, you can plug the openings yourself with hydraulic cement or polyurethane caulk for less than $20.

Plugs work when the problem is simply a hole that water oozes through, either from surface runoff or from wet soil. But if the water is coming up through the floor, or at the joint where floor and walls meet, the problem is groundwater, and plugs won’t do the trick.

  1. Restore the Crown

If the gutters are working and you’ve plugged obvious holes, but water still dribbles into your basement or crawl space from high on foundation walls, then surface water isn’t draining away from the house as it should.

Your house should sit on a “crown” of soil that slopes at least 6 inches over the first 10 feet in all directions.

Over time, the soil around the foundation settles. You can build it back with a shovel and dirt. One cubic yard of a water-shedding clay-loam mix from a landscape supply house costs around $30 (plus delivery) and is enough for a 2-foot-wide, 3-inch-deep layer along 57 feet of foundation.

  1. Reshape the Landscape

Since your home’s siding slightly overlaps its foundation, building up the crown could bring soil—and rot and termites—too close to siding for comfort: 6 inches is the minimum safe distance. In that case, create a berm (a mound of dirt) or a swale (a wide, shallow ditch), landscape features that redirect water long before it reaches your house.

In small areas, berms are easy; a landscape contractor can build one for a few hundred dollars. On bigger projects, berms make less sense because you’ll have to truck in too much soil. In that case, dig a swale (about $1,000). Once landscaping grows in, berms and swales can be attractive features in your yard.

  1. Repair Footing Drains

If water is leaking into your basement low on the walls or at the seams where walls meet the floor, your problem is hydrostatic pressure pushing water up from the ground.

First, check whether you have footing drains, underground pipes installed when the house was built to carry water away from the foundation. (Look for a manhole or drain in the basement floor or a cleanout pipe capped a few inches above the floor.)

If the drains are clogged, open the cleanout and flush the pipes with a garden hose. If that doesn’t work, a plumber with an augur can do the job for about $600.

  1. Install a Curtain Drain

If you don’t have working footing drains, install a curtain drain to divert water that’s traveling underground toward your house.

A type of French drain, a curtain drain is a shallow trench—2 feet deep and 1.5 feet across—filled with gravel and perforated piping that intercepts water uphill of your house and carries it down the slope a safe distance away.

If the drain passes through an area with trees or shrubs, consider switching to solid pipe to reduce the risk of roots growing into the piping and clogging it. Cost: $10 to $16 per linear foot.

 Pump the Water

If you can’t keep subsurface water out, you’ll have to channel it from the inside.

To create an interior drain system, saw a channel around the perimeter of the floor, chip out the concrete, and lay perforated pipe in the hole. The pipe drains to a collection tank at the basement’s low spot, where a sump pump shoots it out the house.

Starting at about $3,000, an interior system is the best and least disruptive option in an unfinished basement with easy access. It’s also a good choice if your yard is filled with mature landscaping that digging an exterior drainage system would destroy.

  1. Waterproof the Walls

Installing an interior drainage system gets the water out but doesn’t waterproof the walls. For that, you need an exterior system: a French drain to relieve hydrostatic pressure and exterior waterproofing to protect the foundation.

It’s a big job that requires excavating around the house, but it may be the best solution if you have a foundation with numerous gaps. It also keeps the mess and water outside, which may be the best choice if you don’t want to tear up a finished basement.

The downside, besides a price tag that can reach $20,000, is that your yard takes a beating, and you may need to remove decks or walkways.


6 Steps to Spring Tree Care

You may be looking out of you window at your yard and wondering, “where am I even going to start”. released an article that says, “trees are low-maintenance, not no-maintenance” and they are the right place to start. When it comes to spring care, tree maintenance should be high on your priority list. Here are six easy steps to taking care of your trees once spring arrives.

Start by cleaning up. Take down any holiday decorations that may still be up and rake up around the base of the tree.

Follow that up with some mulch. A layer of mulch will not only help maintain moisture, but it will also assist in keeping those unwanted weeds out.

Next, give your trees a good watering- especially in those areas where de-icing product was used. This may also be a good time to check your sprinkler systems for leaks or clogs.

Then, give your trees a trim. Now that the leaves are beginning to unfurl it will be easy to locate and remove any dead, or damaged tree branches.

After you give your trees their spring haircut, take some time to inspect their trunks. If there are any signs of disease or excessive damage, consult your local arborist.

Finally, find out if there are any new or existing pests that may threaten your trees. If so, make sure you’re taking the proper steps to keep your trees safe.

For more information regarding trees or yard maintenance, go to



Material Trends To Watch In 2018

 Algae-derived plastics to biomimetic insulation, these materials will likely make a splash in design and construction this year.

 Reclaimed Wood

No list of current material trends should be devoid of wood. As examples of tall timber construction make frequent news headlines, architects and designers are looking to other wood-based products for environmental and aesthetic reasons. Repurposed wood fulfills both objectives, providing the visual and tactile warmth of wood with a lower ecological footprint than other materials—including virgin wood. The laminated boards provide visual evidence of their former lives as discarded furniture, including the profiles of decorative moldings.

Bioplastic from Algae

Interest in biomass continues to grow in the plastics arena. Biopolymers have long promised to improve upon the energy-intensive and wasteful qualities of petroleum-based plastic, up to 12.7 million metric tons of which finds its way into the ocean each year. Yet common forms of bioplastic, such as PLA derived from corn, are less than ideal in at least two ways: They utilize an edible feedstock that might otherwise serve as food, and they require large amounts of petroleum-based fuel and fertilizers for their cultivation.

Photovoltaic Glass

Spain- and U.S.-based Onyx Solar manufactures glazing for a variety of building and infrastructure applications, including curtain walls, skylights, spandrels, canopies, walkways, and street furniture, in two primary types of photovoltaic (PV) glass: amorphous and crystalline silicon. Amorphous silicon glass appears to have a homogeneous tint or film applied with intermittent integral wiring. With solar power growing by 50 percent in 2016 alone, PV glass is likely to become a more common building material.


Six Maintenance Tasks for Home Sellers

Looking to throw a “For Sale” sign on your front lawn soon? You may not know it, but there are some home maintenance tasks that are specifically tailored toward those people that plan on taking advantage of this skyrocketing housing market. says that there are six maintenance tasks that any potential seller should keep up on if they plan on making a deal.

First of all, you have to keep the yard and walkways maintained. This could mean sweeping off your sidewalk, keeping your bushes trimmed, or even planting some new flowers.

Second, clean out those gutters and while you’re up there, give your roof a good check. You don’t want potential buyers to see puddling or signs of a leaking roof.

Then, get your heating and cooling systems professionally serviced. This includes air ducting, filters, and your chimney. Nothing will push away a potential buyer faster than the smell of built up dust.

Next, make sure you won’t have any surprise guests at your open house by plugging up any entrances that those critters might find.

After that, give your windows a thorough clean. Nothing will sell your house faster than a potential buyer walking into a sliding glass door that is so clean that it looks wide open.

Finally, make sure your house doesn’t look like it’s been empty since my father-in-laws high school graduation. Remember, put the patio furniture away if you’re selling in the winter and take out that wind chime if you’re selling in the warmer months.




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