Wheaton IL is a growing, upscale suburb located west of Chicago in DuPage County where it serves as county seat.
The city of Wheaton traces its history back to several settlers from the east coast who claimed large tracts of land in the area in the 1830s, including Erastus Gary and the city’s namesakes the Wheaton brothers, Jesse and Warren. In 1850, after the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad has established a stop in the town, land was given away to anyone who would build a home on it, kick-starting Wheaton’s growth.
Wheaton was first incorporated as a village in 1859 with Warren Wheaton as village president and re-incorporated as a city in 1890 with Elbert Gary, son of Erastus, founding chairman of United States Steel and founder of the city of Gary, Indiana, as its first mayor.
Today, Wheaton is booming with more than 54,000 residents and approximately 20,000 homes, three-quarters of which are at least 35 years old. Just like those with aging houses everywhere, Wheaton homeowners are encountering the maintenance and repair issues that are common in older homes and many of them are discovering basement foundation cracks in their houses.
Most of Wheaton’s foundations are built of poured concrete but some in the city’s older homes may be masonry.
Cracks can be narrow in a poured concrete foundation and appear to be without a discernible pattern. They can also be wide (more than 1/8”) and show up in a pattern that includes a vertical crack in the middle of the wall and two angled cracks across the upper corners. Not visible from inside are two more vertical cracks where the damaged wall breaks away from the adjacent walls.
The narrow cracks are usually non-structural but can let ground water seep into the basement. The wider cracks in a pattern usually mean that structural damage has been caused by settlement or lateral pressure from over-saturated soil causing the wall to move inward, either rotating from the bottom (concrete) or bowing or bulging in the middle (masonry.)
Cracks develop in a masonry foundation in the mortar joints between masonry units. Small cracks can allow water to seep into the basement and wider cracks indicate structural damage to the wall. Cracks in mortar joints will most often appear in a stair-step pattern but will typically create a bowed or bulging area in the center when the wall has been destabilized.
Narrow cracks in poured concrete that are seeping water can be permanently repaired by injecting them with expanding polyurethane, which fills and seals the crack all the way to the outside soil and remains flexible when it cures to prevent re-cracking from minor foundation movement.
Non-structural cracks in masonry walls are best repaired by applying an exterior waterproofing membrane but the seepage can be managed with interior drain tile. This system works even better when a vapor barrier is applied to the wall inside the basement.
Minor wall movement can be repaired 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.
No matter how big or small the basement foundation crack or where it is located, a Wheaton homeowner that finds one or more in his or her basement will need the help of a foundation repair and/or basement waterproofing 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 experts employ the latest of materials and technology to keep basements dry. Our history doesn’t go back as far as Wheaton’s but it does represent 57 years of experience so please ask for our free advice when a crack appears in your basement.
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