The village of Oak Park grew from a small detached community at the time of the Civil War to a thriving “urban” suburb due largely to the exodus of residents from its larger neighbor after the great Chicago Fire of 1871. The village is known internationally as the home of Frank Lloyd Wright (and much of his work), Ernest Hemingway and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Pre-World War II Oak Park was a staid community with a conservative population that served as a retail center for the immediate area. After the war, as the village’s commercial presence was diluted by the development of regional shopping centers, the population also began to shift with an influx of western European immigrants
Today, Oak Park is an economically and culturally diverse community of nearly 52,000 residents. Unlike many established suburbs in the tumultuous period that was the late 1960s and early 1970s, Oak Park embraced diversity from the beginning and took significant steps to ensure fair treatment and equal housing opportunities for new African-American residents.
With two-thirds of Oak Park’s 24,000 homes having been built before World War II, today’s homeowners are facing many of the maintenance and repair problems that crop up frequently in older homes and many of them are discovering cracks in their foundations.
A crack in a home’s foundation may or not be a serious problem, but it is a problem that cannot be overlooked.
Basement foundation cracks fall into two general categories: non-structural and structural. As the names imply, a non-structural crack does not threaten the stability of the foundation whereas a structural crack may. Both types of crack can allow water to seep into the basement.
Non-structural cracks are typically less than 1/8” wide and may occur anywhere on a foundation wall with no discernible pattern. In a poured concrete wall they are usually roughly vertical and often seep water. In a masonry wall, they will occur in a “stairstep” pattern in the mortar joints and may also leak.
Structural cracks in a poured concrete wall are greater than 1/8” in width and usually occur in a pattern with one vertical crack in the center of the wall, two angled cracks across the upper corners and two other vertical cracks, usually invisible from the interior, where the damaged wall separates from adjacent walls.
In a masonry walls, structural cracks also “stairstep” through mortar joints and are usually found in the center of the wall accompanied by a bulging or bowed area.
Repairing a non-structural crack so that it doesn’t admit water is fairly simple. In a poured concrete wall, the preferred method is to inject the crack with expanding polyurethane from the interior. If the crack is inaccessible it can be repaired on the outside with sodium bentonite clay.
In a masonry wall, an exterior waterproofing membrane will stop seepage through cracks.
Structural cracks are a more serious problem and require more extensive repairs that differ because of the extent of the damage rather than the construction of the wall. Structural cracks are a sign of wall movement that can be caused by lateral pressure from saturated soil or extensive settling of the foundation. The amount the wall has moved inward will determine the type of repair.
For a wall that has moved less than 2”, carbon fiber strips epoxied to the wall will stabilize it against further movement. If the wall has experienced greater movement, low-profile steel channels are used to arrest movement and stabilize the foundation.
In either case, the Oak Park homeowner with basement foundation cracks will need the services of either a foundation repair contractor or a basement waterproofing specialist. At U.S. Waterproofing, our foundation repair team makes use of the latest in stabilization technology to make timely, cost-effective repairs and our basement waterproofing experts have years of experience in stopping seepage through cracks in any kind of foundation wall. Why not ask for our free advice?
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