If you were to look at a bar graph of the dates of home construction in Naperville IL, you’d see a big jump in the decades of the 1980s and 90s. Nearly two-thirds of Naperville’s homes were built during that 20-year period and it is rightly described as Naperville’s boom years.
Naperville was no tiny burg before 1980, either. Nearly 14,000 homes already stood in the city prior to that date, many having been built before World War II.
Naperville’s population grew correspondingly and substantially during this period, from nearly 43,000 in 1980 to 128,000 by the turn of the century. Today, Naperville has nearly 144,000 residents living in more than 45,000 homes.
With the broad range of ages of its homes, Naperville presents numerous examples of the maintenance and repair problems homes face as they age. Newer homes may be experiencing issues related to the original construction while older homes face problems from decades of use, exposure to weather and the maintenance habits of numerous owners and occupants.
One of the signs of trouble that can be spotted in both old homes and new are foundation cracks in the basement. Depending on the type of foundation and the size and location of the crack, foundation cracks are signs of both small problems and big problems and they cannot be ignored.
There are two types of foundation that may be found in Naperville, either poured concrete or masonry. Both foundations can and will crack, but the cracks will be different but often with the same effect.
In a poured concrete foundation, cracks can be narrow and appear to be random rather than in a discernible pattern. Cracks can also be wide (more than 1/8”) and show up in a pattern that typically includes a roughly vertical crack in the middle of the wall and two angled cracks across the upper corners. Not usually visible from inside are two more vertical cracks where the damaged wall separates from the adjacent walls.
The narrow cracks are usually non-structural but will allow ground water seepage into the basement. The wider cracks that fall into a pattern indicate structural damage caused by settlement or pressure from over-saturated soil that has caused the wall to move inward, often referred to as rotation.
In a masonry foundation, commonly concrete block but sometimes brick or stone in older homes, cracks develop in the mortar joints between masonry units. Minor cracks can admit seepage into the basement and larger cracks in a pattern, just as in a poured concrete foundation, indicate structural damage to the wall. Cracks in mortar joints will appear mostly in a stair-step pattern but will usually have a wide horizontal crack when the wall has been destabilized, accompanied by angled cracks from the corners.
In any event, these cracks (or the damage they indicate) must be repaired.
Narrow cracks that are seeping water can be permanently repaired by injecting them with expanding polyurethane, which expands to fill and seal the crack all the way to the outside soil and remains flexible when it cures to prevent the crack from re-opening due to minor foundation movement.
The wall movement that caused the patterned cracks can be repaired with carbon fiber strips that are epoxied to the wall to prevent further movement if the wall has moved less than 2 inches inward. If the wall has moved farther, it will require the installation of low-profile steel channels anchored to the footing and bolted to floor joists at the top to stabilize the wall and prevent further rotation.
Regardless of the type and location of the crack, a Naperville homeowner that spots one in his or her basement will need the help of a foundation repair professional to fix it properly. At U.S. Waterproofing, our structural foundation team uses engineering data to plan and implement permanent structural repairs and our basement waterproofing team employs the latest of materials and technology to keep basements dry. We’ve done this for 57 years and for more than 300,000 homeowners so shouldn’t you ask for our free advice when you see a crack in your basement?
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