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Please read below our blog posts about basement waterproofing, foundation repair, and crawl space services we provide in North West of Ohio.

A Crawlspace Fit for Brandon

Business exists to serve the community, and every once and a while, it can help provide the impossible. Here in Lima, we have become familiar with the Schindler family in Shawnee. Almost a year back, Brandon, the 10-year-old son of Brian and Andrea Schindler was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, known as A Plastic Anemia. Overnight, the illness blindsided the family. Trips to the hospital became a long stay, culminating into a bone-marrow transplant, one of the harshest surgical procedures. 

The procedure went well, until young Brandon's body rejected the new tissue and started attacking other organs in response. In the effort to stabilize him a tracheotomy amongst other procedures were performed, which has helped. Through this all, Brandon and his family has remained strong through their faith; and now along with recovery comes the task of home renovations to accommodate Brandon.

Brandon's medical team stated that his home had to be a germ-free dwelling before returning, which raised some serious concerns. Soon it was decided that the family home would have to be gutted, all the way to the studs and completely renovated. Of course, this project would be a huge expense to simply renovate a home- but this home has to be almost clinically clean. With the medical bills rolling, and the situation mounting, the family created a Go Fund Me account, and prepared as best as they could.

Support Brandon today here:

When Brian went to Lowes, to get information on a home renovation project, Josh Unverferth answered the call. Quickly many other contractors along the way started to chip-in manpower and materials. to help the project along. And there were some foundation problems that needed to be addressed as well- and that's when we saw our opportunity to help the Schindlers' come home!

Like many homes in our area, the Schindler's have a crawlspace. And again, like most folks; they never used it. The problem arises when we think of how germs and contaminates come into the home, through the bottom to the top—what is known as the "stack effect." That is to say, all of the air that is in our homes, comes from beneath it, and carries whatever is down there with it to the attic. 

Many homes built during the late 70's through to today feature a moisture barrier under a gravel bed for the crawlspace floor. Knowing that there will be a little moisture, the common sense for generations has been to build vents in the wall, and close them in the winters. Over time, the moisture barrier—usually little more than a few mills of plastic, degrades and becomes brittle. When we first saw Brian's it looked like dry leaves in the fall. Then we saw the mud, mold, and mildew. That wouldn't do for Brandon!

Right away, we knew we needed to seal off the ground and create a conditioned space, because if the air quality is compromised in the crawlspace—it would be in the rest of the house too. 

Lee Blodgett, our lead foreman and a part-owner set out a plan to seal and insulate the entire crawlspace, or what if referred to as "encapsulation." Upon further inspection he noticed some of the support columns were sub-par, even improperly installed. Those would have to go too.

Another factor that plays into moisture is condensation. A thermal photograph revealed nearly a 20-degree difference in temperatures from the block wall and the floor of the home. Another contractor would be replacing the HVAC system soon with a more efficient one, but it only made sense to insulate the crawlspace walls as well.

The first step in our process was to seal the vents, prominent in front of the home.

Our next step was to kill and seal the mold that had started growing in the basement and the attic. To do this we used a product called Anabec Advanced Cleaning Solution. 

To give you an idea of the effectiveness of this hydrogen peroxide based super-cleaner; the author is allergic to mold and usually wears a respirator in crawlspaces. However, the day the photos were taken, he left his gear in the car, not thinking the pictures would take long—which they didn't, only a half-hour. After exposure, he took several medications, showered, and changed clothing before returning to work. The following day, he remembered his respirator, and brought a change of clothing- but it wasn't necessary! 

The Anabec treatment, along with the compliment barrier coating X-70 Plus which prohibits future mold growth, the author was able to work fully in the crawlspace, unassisted! The after photos are difficult to see a difference, it sometimes looks like a shellac on wood, but is usually invisible. The air quality however, is completely changed! The rim joist will also be sealed in Handi-Foam for further insulation properties, and will completely seal the now dead mold.

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After the joist network was addressed, we focused on the structural items that needed to be addressed, namely, the jacks and columns supporting the house.

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SmartJacks are custom cut, galvanized steel supports that will never rust, and can support over 60,000 pounds. In contrast to the Box Depot variety of support jacks, like the red one on the left, which are typically rated around 12-17,000 pounds. SmartJacks are much more precise in adjustment compared to concrete columns, and in many cases will last longer.

The silver colored material in the after picture is actually called SilverGlo, and it is an engineered extruded polystyrene material that is impregnated with graphite to increase the R-Value to similar performance to an insulated 2x4 wall- all in two thin inches. On top of that, the reflective surface is a Mylar film created to refract thermal heat back into the conditioned envelope. The SilverGlo is mechanically attached to the walls, ensuring a long lasting foundation for the CleanSpace, installed next.

CleanSpace is a heavy plastic liner that is permanently installed up the walls and across the floors of the crawlspace. It is 20-mils thick all together with 7 layers of multiple density polyethylene, cross woven with polyester threading for incredible tear resistance. In the pictures it will look like a pool liner. What is not in the pictures is the layer of UltraFresh, the antimicrobial layer that prevents mold and bacteria growth!

CleanSpace is bonded with specially designed adhesives in a double-bond configuration, assuring a good air-tight seal. The grey matting underneath the CleanSpace allows proper flow of air and moisture found in the soil. Drainage matting also contributes a slight insulating property, and provides a cushion, making storage and use of the space less strenuous.

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The last item that needed to be installed to make this crawlspace a state of the are conditioned space, was a sum pump, to discharge the moisture that would collect under the CleanSpace, and if any plumbing leaks in the future. Originally, it was merely a bucket, with holes drilled through it and a make-shift pump assembly. Not good.

A SmartSump system was added to provide proper drainage for several reasons. First, the SmartSump was created just for the crawlspace environment. It features a new 1/3rd hp Zoeller cast iron pump, water-tight sealed lid, floor drain, and a WaterWatch alarm system that will sound if water approaches the pump from above the lid. This new set up will take care of the crawlspace for years to come, and is modular so it can be easily improved in the future if needed.

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Altogether, the work that we did would be a sizable project for the average household; but for Brandon, we were just happy to lend a hand. The system we developed will help keep contaminants from the ground and exterior air out, increase the efficiency of the furnace, and prevent future growth of hazardous mold. The house is resting on the industry leading support posts, that will never rust. This project in conjunction with everyone else involved will give Brandon the home he needs to recover, and is another example of "Real American Strength."

Brandon's Brigade is the non-profit that has been set up to help support the expenses of the Schindler Family, and we encourage you to check out the Facebook page here:

Brandon's Brigade has also set up a Go Fund Me page, where you can donate to support the renovation of their home. Do that here: