The village of Oak Park, although not incorporated as such until 1902, has a history that stretches back to the early 19th century. The village was originally part of the township of Cicero back in 1850 and, along with Berwyn and other municipalities, voted to de-annex itself and become an independent entity.
The area had first settled in the 1830’s and began to grow in the middle of the century when a railroad line was established between Chicago and Elgin. Oak Park really boomed in the 1870’s when former Chicago residents looked for new home sites after the great Chicago Fire.
Given this history, it’s not surprising that a good number of the homes in Oak Park are older than the typical Chicago-area residence. In fact, more than two-thirds of the village’s current 23,000 homes were constructed before 1939, many well before. These older homes contribute to Oak Park’s rich architectural heritage but they also contribute to their owners’ aggravation over the maintenance and repair issues that come along with old houses.
Although each home in Oak Park that requires wet basement repair must be evaluated individually, there are 3 common ways to repair wet basements that will cover most situations.
1. Exterior Waterproofing – Because of the age of many Oak Park homes, masonry foundations are more common there than in most of Chicagoland where the poured concrete foundation is prevalent. Masonry foundations can experience seepage through mortar joints or porous masonry units; concrete foundations over the top of the foundation wall or patches of porous concrete. The best way to stop such seepage is by installing an exterior waterproofing membrane, a thick coating of asphalt-modified polyurethane that is applied to the outside of foundation walls with a trowel.
If large amounts of ground water are present, the membrane can be complemented by installing exterior drain tile and drainage board that channels water downward.
2. Interior Drain Tile -- Another source of seepage in Oak Park homes is when hydrostatic pressure under the foundation forces water in through cracks in the basement floor or through the cove joint. Installing interior drain tile, perforated pipe buried in a bed of washed gravel under the basement floor, will alleviate this pressure and carry the ground water to a sump pump for disposal. Properly installed, interior drain tile will never require maintenance.
3. Crack Repair – When it comes to poured concrete foundations, the most common source of seepage is a non-structural crack in a foundation wall. Seepage from cracks can be repaired permanently by injecting them with expanding polyurethane from the inside of the basement. The polyurethane fills the cracks all the way to the outside soil and creates a seal that remains flexible when cured to prevent minor foundation movement from re-opening the crack.
If the crack is inaccessible from the inside it can be repaired from the exterior with sodium bentonite clay. A small hole is dug next to the foundation at the site of the crack and filled with the clay, which forms a pliable but permanent barrier against water intrusion on the “positive side” of the wall.
Regardless of the method employed an Oak Park homeowner who wants to remedy a wet basement will need the advice and assistance of a professional basement waterproofing contractor that knows the village and its homes. At U.S. Waterproofing we have been fixing wet basements around Chicago for 56 years and have already helped hundreds of Oak Park homeowners fix theirs. Why not ask for our free advice?
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