Glencoe IL is a small, affluent village on Chicago’s North Shore. It has a population of approximately 8700 and occupies slightly less than 4 square miles of lakefront real estate.
The origin of the village’s name is not 100% clear but most attribute it to the village of the same name in the Scottish Highlands. Given the Scots’ propensity for and invention of the game of golf it is perhaps appropriate that the Illinois village of Glencoe is surrounded by golf courses, including the Lake Shore Country Club, Glencoe Golf Club and the Skokie Country Club.
Not all of Glencoe’s open space is devoted to golf, however. A Cook County Forest Preserve contains both the Skokie Lagoons and a section of the North Branch Bicycle Trail. The Chicago Botanic Garden, a 385-acre living plant museum, is also located in Glencoe.
Of course, the rest of Glencoe is home to 2500 families and others who live in more than 3200 homes, half of which are more than 50 years old. Like homeowners everywhere and especially those with older homes, Glencoe homeowners often discover basement foundation cracks and need to be able to differentiate between the ones that may just allow water seepage and those that threaten the foundation itself.
Most foundations found in Glencoe are constructed of poured concrete but some, particularly in the village’s older homes, may be built of masonry.
In a poured concrete foundation, cracks can be narrow and appear to be without a discernible 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. Invisible 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 to seep into the basement. 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 (poured concrete) or bowing or bulging in the middle (masonry.)
In a masonry foundation, cracks develop in the mortar joints between masonry units. Minor 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 but will usually have a wide horizontal crack when the wall has been destabilized, accompanied by angled cracks from the corners.
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.
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.
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.
Regardless of the size of location of a basement foundation crack, a Glencoe homeowner that finds one or more 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 experts employ the latest of materials and technology to keep basements dry. We’ve been doing this since our founding in 1957 so please ask for our free advice when you see a crack in your basement.
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