Northbrook IL, although not situated directly on the shores of Lake Michigan, is still considered part of Chicago’s fabled North Shore, a string of upscale suburbs north of the city. The village is conveniently located near major highways and commuter train lines, enabling residents to commute to Chicago and easily reach the air travel hub of O’Hare International Airport.
A successful mixture of residential, retail and corporate offices, Northbrook is home to the headquarters of a number of well-known companies, including Walgreen’s, Underwriters Laboratories and Allstate Insurance. Northbrook Court, an upscale shopping mall, is the center of the village’s retail community.
The heart of Northbrook, of course, is its residents and the village has nearly 34,000 of them, most of whom are homeowners with only a small percentage of renters. Two-thirds of the 12,000 homes in which these families live are between 30 and 60 years old, a pretty typical age range for a suburb that grew up as part of the postwar boom.
The age of Northbrook homes also means that maintenance and repair problems are typically on the increase and that many homeowners have discovered basement foundation cracks in their homes. These cracks signal a problem, either major or minor, but one that needs repair before it worsens.
Basement foundation cracks can be either structural or non-structural and homeowners will be able to distinguish between them in most instances.
A non-structural crack does not threaten the integrity of the foundation but usually will allow water to seep into the basement. These cracks are typically narrow, less than one-eighth inch, and do not fall into any discernible pattern. They often emanate from window and door openings or near the bottom of the foundation wall.
Structural cracks are normally wider than one-eighth inch and usually follow a pattern. In a poured concrete foundation wall, there will typically be a vertical crack in the center of the wall and two angled cracks across the upper corners. Not visible from inside are two more vertical cracks, these at the outside corners where the damaged wall has begun to separate from the adjacent walls.
In a masonry wall, such as concrete block or brick, the cracks will follow a stairstep pattern that usually leads to a bowed or bulging area in the center of the wall.
Repairing a seeping non-structural crack is best done by injecting the crack with expanding polyurethane from inside the basement to fill and seal the crack all the way to the outside soil. The polyurethane remains flexible when cured to prevent re-cracking from minor foundation movement.
If the crack is inaccessible from inside it can be repaired on the exterior with sodium bentonite clay to form a waterproof barrier against the crack on the “positive side” of the foundation.
With structural cracks the repair is not focused on the crack itself but in stabilizing the wall in which it appears. A foundation wall that has been pushed inward by lateral pressure from over-saturated soil can be stabilized by applying carbon fiber strips to the wall with epoxy IF the wall has moved less than 2 inches. Further movement requires the use of low-profile channel steel for the same purpose.
When the cracks indicate that foundation has sunken or dropped, it is repaired with hydraulic push piers, which are installed at intervals to raise the foundation (and home) back to level and stabilize it there.
Regardless of the type of basement foundation crack, a Northbrook homeowner who finds one (or more) in his or her basement will require the assistance of a foundation repair professional and/or a basement waterproofing contractor. At U.S. Waterproofing, our team of foundation repair experts employs engineering data and state-of-the-art practices to repair and stabilize damaged foundations and our basement waterproofing experts rely on 57 years of experience to keep Northbrook basements dry, permanently and cost-effectively. Why not ask for our free advice?
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