Wilmette IL is one of the southernmost towns on Chicago’s North Shore – only Evanston stands between it and the big city.
When originally developed, the village of Wilmette existed only east of Ridge Avenue where woods were cleared to make room for homes and small businesses.
The area west of Ridge, know originally as Gross Point, was home to German immigrant farmers who opened up large tracts of land for their operations. The two towns were merged in 1924 to form the borders of modern-day Wilmette.
The village grew as first the railroad, then the Edens Expressway opened up the area to new visitors and residents.
Today, Wilmette is known for its pleasing lakefront and the unique architecture of the Baha’i Temple, the only such structure in North America. The village has a population of more than 27,000 living in more than 10,000 homes, the average value of which approaches $1 million.
Approximately one -third of the homes in Wilmette were built before World War II, not surprising for a community with such a long history. Along with some more recent construction, these homes represent nearly two-thirds of Wilmette’s housing stock that is more than 50 years old.
Like owners of older homes everywhere, Wilmette homeowners have begun to experience maintenance and repair problems in their older homes and many have discovered basement foundation cracks.
The majority of foundations in Wilmette are built of poured concrete but some may be constructed of masonry.
In a poured concrete foundation, cracks can be narrow and appear without a noticeable pattern. They can also be wide (more than 1/8”) and show up in a pattern that typically includes a vertical crack in the middle of the wall and two angled cracks across the upper corners. Not seen from inside are two more vertical cracks where the damaged wall separates from the adjacent walls.
In a masonry foundation, cracks occur in the mortar joints between masonry units. Narrow cracks can allow water to seep into the basement and wider cracks indicate structural damage to the wall. Cracks in mortar joints will appear mostly in a stair-step pattern and will usually lead to a bulging or bowed spot in the middle of the wall.
The narrow cracks are usually non-structural but are often a source of basement seepage. The wider cracks that follow the described pattern usually indicate structural damage caused by settlement or lateral pressure from over-saturated soil that has caused the wall to move inward, either rotating from the bottom in a poured concrete wall or bowing or bulging in the center in masonry construction.
Cracked masonry walls are best repaired by applying an exterior waterproofing membrane but the seepage can be managed with interior drain tile and a vapor barrier applied to the wall inside the basement.
Narrow cracks in poured concrete 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.
Wall movement can be stabilized with carbon fiber strips that are epoxied to the wall but only 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
A Wilmette homeowner that finds cracks in his or her basement will need the help of a basement waterproofing contractor and/or a foundation repair professional to fix it properly.
At U.S. Waterproofing, our foundation repair experts use engineering data to plan and implement permanent structural repairs and our basement waterproofing experts employ the latest materials and technology to keep basements dry. We’ve been fixing basements in Wilmette and all around Chicago since our founding in 1957 so please ask for our free advice when you see a crack in your basement.
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