Staying Dry by Sealing Your Basement

Posted Friday, January 27th, 2017

April showers bring basement floods.

It may still feel like the dead of winter now (because it is), but with Michigan’s changeable weather, you never know when a sudden thaw might leave you in an ocean of trouble. As spring approaches, we can look forward to rain and melting snow raising the water tables in our neighborhoods. Especially when you have had a water problem before, this is the time of year you might start getting anxious. You can hire a professional to waterproof your basement, but if that is out of your budget there are a few simple things that you can do on your own.

Check Gutters and Downspouts

Water that pools around your house needs somewhere to go. Unfortunately, that place is usually your basement. If you know you need new gutters, that your existing gutters need cleaning, or that you should extend your downspouts, take care of it as soon as the whether warms. That way you’ll be prepared for spring storms.

Have your sump pump serviced by a professional.

There are many things that can go wrong with your sump pump. Tethered floats, the most common kind, are known for getting stuck on the side walls of the pit, or the mechanical pressure switch can fail.  Sometimes your sump pump simply doesn’t have the capability to pump the amount of of water necessary, especially if your home is in an area with a high water table. The best way to keep everything running like it should is to have someone service your pump regularly. That way you’ll know there is a problem before your basement floods.

Seal the small vertical cracks in your foundation.

Basement walls will naturally form small vertical cracks as the house settles. This does not show a serious foundation issue. Wide horizontal cracks, on the other hand, indicate a larger problem that requires the attention of a foundation professional immediately. However, water will seep through any opening, so after the house settles seal any cracks you find. You can use DIY sealants from any hardware store, but for absolute security, hire a professional.

If you already have standing water in your basement.

Shut off any electricity that runs to this area before doing anything else. Then look for the source of the water. If it is coming from an interior leak, like a burst pipe, shut off the water to that section of pipe and call a good plumber. If it is coming from outside, your first priority is dry out the space and then address the larger drainage issues.

In either case contact Modernistic for immediate flood mitigation services. We will be there in less than two hours, any time of day or night. Our IIRC technicians can determine the cause of the flood an immediately begin removing standing water. We will also provide top quality restoration services and assign you a specialized case manager to handle the insurance claims process.

Helping Royal Oak, MI residents recover from flood damages for 40 years.


How to visually inspect your plumbing

Posted Friday, January 20th, 2017

Knowing what to look for can save your home from flooding

Becoming a homeowner is a big step. Some of the skills you need to keep your home running smoothly are pretty easy to figure out, like shoveling your sidewalk or paying your energy bill on time. Others are a lot harder to master. The good news is that you can easily learn a bit about your plumbing, even though it might seem daunting at first. Moreover, the effort is well worth it. You’ll avoid the expense of learning something is wrong only after leaking water has caused a great deal of cosmetic and structural damage. Here’s a short list of things to look for that signal trouble.

Inspecting exposed pipes

For this job you’ll need a good flashlight and some patience. Look under your laundry, bathroom and kitchen sinks. Once you’ve cleared away a year’s worth of old cleaning supplies and half-used bottles of shampoo, check all the valves and connections. Even if you don’t see water dripping currently, is there corrosion at any of these points? That’s a sure indicator you have a leak on your hands. You should also look at the bottoms and backs of cabinets. Water stains and mildew here are like neon signs blinking “Leaky Pipes.”

Check your supply lines.

The supply lines in your home bring gas and water to your appliances. Water supply lines will run to the dishwasher, icemaker, toilet, water heater, and washing machine. These lines have supply valves which will cut off the flow of the water. Make sure these are working, since it’s important to be able to turn off the water before leaving on trips. Look for dripping water or leaking. Some of these supply lines carry a lot of water, and a broken line can cause a big flood. Again, corrosion around the connections or valves signals impending leakage.

Look on floors and ceilings.

Do you see water-damaged, cracked, or warped flooring near the base of the refrigerator (if it has an icemaker), bathtub, shower or dishwasher? Persistent dampness in these spaces will damage the floors, and probably means that there is a leak. If your bathtub or shower is not properly sealed, the accruing moisture can destroy the subfloor as well, creating an expensive repair. Brown watermarks on the ceiling show that the water is leaching through the subflooring. Act fast if you see them on the ceiling directly below a bathroom or a major appliance.

Check for drainage issues outside the house.

If your gutters are clogged or blocked by ice, water spills over the edges and lands right along the foundation. This water presses along your foundation walls looking for somewhere to go. You’ll end up with anything from elevated levels of dampness and mildew to a river water running through your basement. Make sure all your gutters are draining properly and that your downspouts carry the water at least five feet away from the house. Worst case scenario, untreated drainage issues outside will cause structural damage to your foundation and cost you tens of thousands to fix everything.

Loose toilets are often leaky.

Put your hands firmly on either side of the toilet and shake it gently. Does it rock back and forth at all? If the toilet is loose it often begins to leak around the base. To see if it is already leaking flush the toilet 3–5 times, then look carefully along the sides and behind the toilet. Water around the base will damage the floor, so even if you don’t see much leaking water, look at the flooring to see if it is cracked or warped. Finally, a spongy feel to the floor around the toilet means that the water has already begun to damage the subfloor materials.

When should you call a professional?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably not a plumber. While every responsible homeowner should know how to inspect their own plumbing, once you’ve identified the problem, call for reinforcements. A licensed plumber can confirm what you suspect and tackle the problem right away. Of course, sometimes you know there’s a problem only because you are floating boats across your basement. As soon as you’ve called your trusted plumber, make another call to Modernistic. We’re here with a 24/7 emergency response team to get that water out before it damages your home permanently. When disaster strikes, Modernistic is ready.

Bailing out residents of Mt. Pleasant, MI for 40 years.


Have an Emergency Plan for Dealing with Frozen Pipes

Posted Monday, January 16th, 2017

Michigan winters are tough. Make sure you know what to do if your pipes freeze.

You did everything you could to prevent frozen pipes this winter. You added extra insulation, safely dismantled hoses, wrapped pipes in extra insulation, and kept the house warm. Still, once the temperature falls you should have a plan for dealing with frozen pipes, just in case.

Inspect your pipes for signs of freezing.

Check on the pipes you think are most likely to freeze. If you see frost along the length of a pipe or an area that looks abnormally swollen your pipe is probably frozen. There is another less obvious indicator that your pipe is frozen as well.  If you turn on the tap and nothing comes out, you may have a frozen pipe. You may not know exactly which pipe carries water to that section of the house, but check any nearby that lie along the exterior walls.

Shut off the water to the frozen pipe.

You should familiarize yourself with where water shut-off valves are located. In a crisis you don’t want to be running around like a slapstick comedian, getting soaked and looking for the shut-off. If learning where all the shut-off valves are seems too intimidating, at least know where the main water shut-off valve is for your home.

Thawing frozen pipes.

When you locate the frozen pipe there are a few things you can do to thaw it out before it bursts. Warm the pipe with a safe heating source, like an electric heating pad, a hair dryer, a space heater, or heating tape. Never use a heat source with an open flame, particularly on plastic pipes. As you warm the pipes, leave the faucet open. When some of the ice melts, water will begin to run through the pipe, speeding the thaw. You’ll know you’ve melted all the ice once water pressure is back at full strength.

What to do after a pipe bursts.

The first thing to do when a pipe bursts is shut off the water supply to this particular part of the house. You want to cut off the gushing water quickly as possible. Then call a licensed plumber who is qualified to make the repair, and your insurance agent. Finally, contact Modernistic. Freezing temperatures might be round the clock, but we’re here too with 24/7 emergency assistance. Our mitigation crew will arrive within an hour and a half to begin assessing the damage and extracting the water. When frozen pipes flood your home, Modernistic is there.

Serving Berkley, Michigan, for 40 years.


Storm damage? Here are your first steps.

Posted Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Storms are coming, Haslett. Are you ready?

Seasonal changes always bring story weather. While it’s important to protect yourself before the storm, what can you do after the damage is done? We know it’s a stressful time, so here are your first steps for tackling storm damage once the weather clears.

Safety first

If you see downed power lines, call 911 and the power company right away. Don’t touch the power lines, and keep your children and pets away.

If your house has electrical problems and flooding, turn off the power. Because water conducts electricity, stepping into a flooded basement with an electrical problem can cause serious injury or death. Turn off the power even if the power’s out—you don’t know when it will come back on, and you don’t want to be standing in water when it does.

Document all damage

Are your rugs stained from flood damage? Is your window cracked from the wind? Is your paint bubbling? What does your crawl space and attic look like? Are your roof shingles intact? Starty by taking photos, videos, and notes of all the damage and compile them into a detailed, itemized list. Then write down the date and time of the storm, and find news articles showing the storm hitting your area. This will come in handy when talking to your insurance company.

Call the insurance

Find out what your insurance policy covers. Michigan law allows homeowners to purchase insurance for flood damage and tree or debris removal in addition to their standard insurance policy. Every time you speak with the company or an agent, write down the date of the conversation and what you discussed. Then submit your itemized list of damages along with other required paperwork to make a claim.

Clean quickly and thoroughly

Time is of the essence in any cleanup job. Bacteria and mold love to grow in warm, damp, dark places, and they can flourish under your carpet and on the walls after a storm. Mold can be especially dangerous for people with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory problems.

In order to prevent mold and bacteria from spreading, keep wet areas open and well-ventilated. Open windows, crank up the dehumidifier, and disinfect to keep the microorganisms from spreading.

Bring in a professional team

If there is significant damage to your home, cleanup with be a big job and you’ll need help. At Modernistic, our 24/7 emergency response team is ready to be at your home, helping you repair damage in your hour of need. Our truck-mounted water extraction system will get the water out of your home, and our moisture mapping technology will ensure that we don’t miss any areas of potential mold growth. We can also work with your insurance company to help provide you peace of mind and help you get back in your home as quickly as possible.


Signs Your Basement Could Be at Risk for Flooding

Posted Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Is Your Basement at Risk For Water Damage?

A flooded basement is a homeowner’s nightmare. The water can destroy treasured possessions, ruin flooring, lead to structural damage, destroy wood or drywall, and create the right conditions for toxic molds to grow. Luckily there are a few ways to know whether your basement could be susceptible to water damage. Here’s how to check the signs your basement could be at risk for flooding.

Use Your Nose

Do you smell a musty odor? Mold and mildew need only slightly elevated levels of moisture to begin to grow, and your basement might be a good habitat. The concrete walls of your foundation are porous enough to allow moisture to pass through. And typically poor ventilation in basements traps humid air. However, you might have a small leak increasing the moisture in the basement, which could turn into a big problem after a heavy rain.

Look for Stained Walls and Blistering Paint

Is there visible discoloration, water marks, or bubbling paint on the walls of your basement? It’s easy to spot, and a clear sign of water seepage. On the ceiling rather than the walls, this might indicate a leaking pipe or water heater, or an improperly sealed toilet or tub. Wherever you see damage, it’s smart to call in a professional right away before more water enters the space.

What about cracks?

Most foundation walls have small vertical or diagonal cracks after they settle. However, if you noticed long horizontal cracks, especially if the walls are also bowing, you may have a serious problem, and should call a foundation contractor. Any crack, though, might be an entrance point for water, and could be closed with a sealant or caulk.

Step Outside

Check for worn seals on window wells, clogged gutters and downspouts, and adjacent ground that slopes towards your home. Each of these allows water to pool along the foundation. Pretty soon, some of that water will make its way into your basement. Make sure your home’s gutters are properly cleaned, the window wells are in good repair, and the ground slopes away from your walls on all sides.

Sump Pump Issues

If your sump pump doesn’t turn on when it should, you can look forward to floating boats across your basement. Make sure it is in good working order by having a contractor service it regularly. Also see that the discharge lines are insulated from freezing Michigan temperatures. It’s also important to monitor the lines for clogs, so that falling leaves or snow don’t prevent the water from draining properly.

Know When to Call for Help

After reading this, if you suspect your basement could be at risk for flooding, call a waterproofing professional. And remember that if the floodwaters do rise, Modernistic is ready to respond immediately with professional restoration services, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


What to do if your basement floods

Posted Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Don’t worry, Kalamazoo, we’ve got your back.

Summers in Michigan are times of extreme weather shifts: scorching hot for days on end, and then a sudden storm barreling through from off the lakes. This leaves many areas around Michigan at risk for flooding, and river valleys such as Kalamazoo face extra risk.

If you’ve dealt with basement flooding in the past, you know it can be messy and expensive to clean up. However, you can mitigate the damage if you act quickly and call a professional. If you find water in your basement, here’s what you should do first.

1. Shut off all power

This is the absolute first priority. Do not go anywhere near flooded water in your basement until you are certain that there is no danger of electrical shock. If you are not certain how to turn off the power in your basement, contact someone who can do this for you.

2. Call a professional and contact your insurance

If there’s any significant level of standing water in your basement, you’re going to want a professional to help. Not only are they better qualified to assess damage and make safety recommendations, but they will be better equipped to handle the cleanup quickly and efficiently.

Also call your insurance company and file a claim. Keep track of all your information so that you can work with your cleanup team more efficiently.

3. Wear protective clothing

Depending on the source of your basement flooding and when you discovered it, the water in your basement could be quite dangerous. It could contain sewage, chemicals, and other pollutants. Definitely wear a face mask as well as rubber boots and gloves if you enter the flooded area.

4. Start pumping water out

Find out the source of the flooding and make sure no more water is leaking into your basement. Use a sump pump, a pool pump, a wet/dry vacuum, or (if there’s not a lot of water) a mop and bucket. If you don’t have these items, a professional can help.

5. Dispose of anything that could grow mold

Move dry items somewhere safe. Books, cardboard, and electronics are particularly vulnerable. Don’t touch anything that has already gotten wet, as you risk spreading mold to other parts of your house. Clothes and bedding can usually be washed, but will require special treatment to remove mold. You will have to dispose of anything that takes longer than 24–48 hours to dry, or which can’t be thoroughly cleaned once it is dry, as it poses a significant mold risk.

We can help you with emergency restoration if your basement floods

No homeowner wants to come home to a flooded basement. Depending on the damage, it can be a very upsetting time. The best solution, practically and emotionally, is to move quickly and get help as soon as possible.

At Modernistic, we are available 24/7 to respond to your flood emergency, and our aim is to have a cleanup crew at your door within 60 to 90 minutes. Our IICRC- and RIA-certified technicians can handle every stage of the cleanup, bringing you peace of mind and returning your life to normal as quickly as possible.

If you need our help, contact us immediately.