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How to Keep Your Basement Dry

Homeowners can’t always avoid disaster, but there are things they can do to take preventative measures to some extent. Whether it be taking steps to keep the attic clean and free of hazards in order to prevent a fire, encapsulating a crawl space to avoid toxic mold build-up as well as deter critters, or by having a professional come out to inspect all major appliances along with wiring to prevent any damage that might incur if a pipe bursts or a wire begins to spark…homeowners have a responsibility to do these things.

If you are a homeowner with a basement, steps can also be taken in order to keep it nice and dry to avoid a mold or mildew infestation along with pesky wood rot that is more likely when things are continuously damp. If you have a basement that is completely finished, there is even more at risk by having a moisture problem. Not only do you have the wood to be concerned with, but also carpeting, furniture, and drywall.

What do the experts have to say about keeping a basement dry?

Here are some professional tips from Lowes:

  • Keep your gutters clean. Install downspout extensions to direct rainwater away from the foundation.
  • Be sure that water coming down the driveway is diverted. The grade should slope away from the house on all sides.
  • If you have a partial basement that has an adjoining crawlspace with exposed dirt, cover the ground using 6-mil-thick polyethylene sheeting. Overlap the plastic about 6 inches, allowing the excess to spread up the walls, and use bricks to hold it in place. An earthen crawlspace can cause high humidity in the basement and produce a strong musty smell.
  • To control mildew and odors, spray the basement occasionally with a mild bleach solution.
  • Vent the clothes dryer to the outside.
  • Another way to prevent condensation and humidity in a basement is to install an exhaust fan.
  • By sealing your concrete floors, you can create a moisture barrier that helps prevent damage to your belongings.
  • Install a dehumidifier and connect it to the floor drain via a garden hose. Check the drain regularly to make sure it remains unclogged. Use hot water and detergent periodically to keep the drain open and control algae growth.
  • Install a sump pump with a battery-operated backup in case the electricity goes out. You’ll need a connection to a drainage system. This project will probably require the help of a professional.

Sitting back and waiting for a monetary or health dilemma to happen due to mold and structural/belonging damage is not advised. If you own a home with a basement, taking action now will save you from misery later on if disaster strikes.

Has your basement recently suffered from water damage or an infestation of mold due to excess moisture? Do you need help from a restoration specialist? Don’t worry—Restoration Certified Specialists, Inc. will take care of you! They have been proudly serving the Santa Rosa, CA and North Bay areas since 1975.

Basement Maintenance and Repairs You Probably Need

Basement Maintenance and Repairs You Probably Need

The old saying, “out of sight out of mind” is unfortunately true for many homeowners when it comes to their basement. If your basement is unfinished or just not a comfortable place to be, you probably don’t go down there very often. As a result, there may be issues cropping up down there that you aren’t aware of. The best way to prevent expensive problems in your basement is to do some regular maintenance. Here are some basement maintenance and repair tips that will help you manage potential issues.

Basement Maintenance and Repairs You Probably Need

Check for signs of foundation cracks

Foundations crack when the soil under your home settles due to water or freezing and then thawing. You may not know when the foundation is cracking since you can’t see it, but you can look for signs. If you notice cracks in the walls of your basement, then you need to get your foundation checked. The walls crack because the base is now uneven.

If doors that used to close now get jammed then that is another sign of foundation issues. Windows that don’t align enough to shut or lock anymore is another sign. However, if you have trouble shutting your doors and windows it may be due to increased or decreased humidity making the wood in your home swell or shrink. Check your basement regularly so you can know the trends when the season changes. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, get your foundation checked.

Eliminate dampness

A musty odor, visible condensation or increased humidity in your basement is a sign that you have too much moisture down there. Moisture in your basement leads to mold and rotting wood which can be really expensive to fix if you let it get out of hand. Install a dehumidifier to pull extra moisture out of the air. If you think you have moisture coming up from the ground, you may need to install a sump pump. Consider adding a vapor barrier to prevent future moisture problems.

Look for leaks

You may not realize if you have a plumbing leak, but, thanks to gravity, all water will flow down to the basement. Check your basement walls for flaking or peeling paint. This is a sign of a leak behind the walls. If you notice any discolored spots on the ceiling or walls of your basement, this is also a possible sign of leaks. You definitely want to find the source of leaks quickly so that your floors and walls do not rot.

If you think you may have issues with your basement, contact our office today. We help to clean up and repair damage due to mold. If you find that you had an unnoticed plumbing leak that has damaged your home, we can also help you with that as well. The best way to protect your home is to do regular maintenance and take preventative measures.

Is Your Landscaping Damaging Your Home

Is Your Landscaping Damaging Your Home?

Your landscaping could be damaging your home. Does your basement keep flooding? It may be because of your lawn.

Is Your Landscaping Damaging Your Home?

Water, Water, In Our Yards, and Not a Drop In Our Basements

Rain water has to go somewhere, always. Properly graded and landscaped yards direct this water to desired locations while improperly graded and landscaped yards could allow water to collect in the basement or foundation of your home.

Water flows downhill. You want to ensure that your landscaping slopes so that water goes away from your home and certainly doesn’t pond around the home. 

Landscaping Plants Helping or Hurting Your Home

Flowers, shrubs, and trees can be important players in the moisture level of your yard and, indirectly, your home. If your yard tends to retain a lot of water, thirstier plants can help manage this. On the other hand, too thirsty plants like certain trees growing close to your home, can make the soil too dry and lead to an unstable surface for your home’s foundation.

What To Do If Your Landscaping Is Damaging Your Home

Make sure your downspouts drain away from the home. Most downspouts have a protector underneath to lessen the impact directly under the spout and prevent ponding, but you can further protect your home by landscaping around the downspout to channel the water say 10 feet away.

Consider any gardens up next to your home. Could they be sloped away from the home? Are they retaining too much water?

Consider trees and plants next to the home. You might add or replace plants to optimize the moisture level of the soil around your home.

A bad enough water drainage problem may require professional grading. This is the process of adding, removing, and/or shaping the ground under or around a building. Ensure that your yard slopes downward 10 feet away from your home. 

Common Home Insect Pests In Northern California

Common Home Insect Pests In Northern California

Although household pests are common, they can be a real headache for homeowners. They give the impression of a dirty house and in some cases, could even be detrimental to your health.

Certain pests are known for spreading disease or having a deadly sting that could cause serious illness or death. Even ones that are considered harmless to humans can still wreak havoc on your home.

Depending on the region you live, some pests may be more burdensome than others. In Northern California, certain pests you may encounter include:


Ants are common pest for households, creating a steady line of insects seeking food and water. You can usually trace the trail back to their original pile, if you have the patience to follow the entire line. While most type of ants are relatively harmless, two species to look out for in California are the Red Imported Ant and Carpenter Ant. The Red Imported Ant was first found in the state in 1998, and it known for it’s stinging bite. Carpenter ants can cause serious damage to your home or building – although they don’t consume wood, as their name suggests, they just hollow out wooden pieces to nest.


Possibly the most common household pest known to man, cockroaches infest pretty much any building or structure than can provide shelter. Six types of cockroaches are commonly found in California, including America, Brown Banded, and Oriental cockroaches. The most troublesome is the German Cockroach, who prefer the indoors and are notoriously difficult for homeowners to remove without assistance. Known for spreading disease and bacteria, they are an unwanted guest in anyone’s home or business.

Black Widow Spiders

Probably one of the most well known spiders due to it’s lethal bite, black widow spiders are common throughout the state of California. The females are usually identified by their unique markings – an all black body with a bright red hourglass on the belly. Black widows are known for their reclusive habits, so they may be lurking in dark corners or holes throughout the home. As the most venomous spider in the U.S., homeowners should be especially diligent in eliminating black widows if they are found.

If you come across an infestation in your home (or even just a single insect that has you worried), the best thing to do is call a licensed pest control company to investigate. They will be able properly identify your pest problem and recommend an effective treatment to remove your pest.

Basement Flooding: What To Do

Basement Flooding: What To Do

Basement flooding, you never expect it and you can't really prepare for it. Unexpected issues happen all the time in homes, but a basement flood is not only unexpected, it can also be very dangerous.

Turn It Off

The absolute first thing that you need to do when your basement floods is to shut off any power and gas into the basement. The importance of this can not be stated strongly enough. If you do not know where your shutoffs are call an electrician before entering the basement.

Wear Protective Gear

Once you are sure the water is safe from electrical or gas dangers, you should still put on protective gear before entering the water. Wearing gloves and boots or waders is advised. The water you are walking in is likely going to be grey water but could easily be black water, depending on the source. Until you are sure what type of flooding you are dealing with, take all precautions.

Stop The Water, Fast

It is important that you identify the location of where the water is entering your home as soon as you are able. If the water is entering from a broken pipe, shut off the water. Check your drains as well to ensure they are unclogged. Determine the extent of damage to your basement with the knowledge that time is against you in the cleanup process. If the water is greywater and not black water you will have 48 hours to remove the water as well as clean and dry everything. If you are unable to do this, you need to seek out the help of a professional cleaning service for the safety of your home and family.

Clean Or Have It Cleaned

If it something you can clean yourself, read our steps on this other post. If not, look to the next paragraph.

A professional team will arrive on scene and begin removing all standing water from your home. Any and all water damaged items and furniture will be removed and dried off entirely. If the basement is carpeted, it will likely need to be removed as it can prove difficult to dry and any moisture that it could hold can promote mold growth. Additionally any wet drywall will likely need to be replaced. Often with flooding, dirt will infiltrate the basement and any contaminated dirt will need to be removed from your basement and crawlspaces.

In any case of serious flooding we strongly suggest calling in a professional team of experts to restore your home to the its pre-flood condition of safety, comfort, and appearance. Time is not your friend in a flood situation and after the first 48 hours when the water becomes black, a whole host of mold and bacteria begin to settle on the flood site. If not properly cleaned, this can become issues that can hurt your family's health for years to come.

What Is A Sump Pump? Do You Need One?

What Is A Sump Pump? Do You Need One?

Any homeowner will tell you: water is no friend. When you have running or standing water of any sort outside of your pipes, sinks, and tubs, that usually signifies a problem of some sort. While it often takes a plumber to sort out why the water is there in the first place — and it’s important to do that — you also need to worry about cleaning up that water. Small leaks or spills are one thing, but if you have a lot of standing water, it can wreak havoc on your home. In many homes, the basement is a frequent source of standing water, often caused by poor drainage during storms, the basement itself sitting below the water table level, or other house-related plumbing issues. In any case, it’s not unusual for a basement in a house like this to collect water at its lowest point, and when it does, that’s could lead to water damage, among other problems, if precautions aren’t taken. In most cases, the answer lies in the form of a sump pump.

What is a sump pump?

Simply put, a sump pump is a pump that is placed in the lowest point of a basement (known as the sump). This sump is typically a basin put into the floor of the basement to make sure that all water flows into it. When enough water is collected, the sump pump turns on, and then pumps the standing water outside and away from the house. This action keeps the basement dry, and helps to prevent any damage to the house and its systems.

Why is this important?

As mentioned above, free-standing water is no friend to your home. Without an adequate drainage system, the lower points of your house run a real risk of flooding, and — more `importantly — staying flooded. This can lead to several problems. Obviously, all that water can lead to damage in the form of mold, mildew, and rot. None of those are good for the structural integrity of your home.

In addition, mold and mildew can lead to health problems as you breathe. Asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory issues can often occur in houses with these problems, with children, the elderly, and those with already compromised systems being the most vulnerable.

All that standing water can also cause other problems in your house, such as electrical shorts, damaged appliances, and destroyed furniture.

For all these reasons, a sump pump is pretty much a necessity, especially if you know your basement or low-lying areas are prone to flooding.

If you have more questions about sump pumps, how they work, or what pump is best for you, please don’t hesitate to call us today!