For many people, owning the ideal home is a lifelong goal. Many Americans dream of a cabin in the woods, a sunlit beach house or a tri-level on a golf course. For Chicagoans, it could be a South side graystone, a two-flat in Wrigleyville or a mansion on the North Shore. No matter the style or location, a dream house is a goal for many of us.
Not to bust your bubble, but even when dreams come true they may not measure up to our imaginations. Even dream houses have drafty windows, balky furnaces and, yep, basement water problems.
If you’re a smart, well-prepared home buyer, you’ll realize that even the best-built, most fully equipped, beautiful homes may have a few flaws. Basement water problems don’t have to be a deal-breaker if you keep in mind two simple pieces of advice:
Signs of basement water problems – We’ve written earlier in this blog about how homebuyers can spot signs of basement water damage and that advice certainly applies when hunting for your Chicago-area dream house. Needless to say, if you see water on the floor, you know there’s a problem. There are, however, many more subtle signs like a musty odor in the basement, efflorescence or honeycombed concrete on the walls and water stains or discoloration where the walls and floor meet.
Not all signs of basement water problems (or potential ones) are to be found inside. Damaged or badly clogged gutters, downspouts that discharge water right next to the foundation and bad grading that creates a slope toward the house are pretty good indicators that seepage is imminent.
Also, don’t forget that Illinois, along with Indiana and Wisconsin, requires that all home sellers report any known basement water problems on their real estate disclosure forms.
Basement seepage repairs – Just because your dream house has a wet basement doesn’t mean your dream is over. Virtually any seepage problem can be repaired and many can be done simply and economically. Seeping wall cracks can be injected with expanding urethane for a fast, permanent repair. Seepage through the cove joint or from floor cracks can be stopped by installing interior drain tile, worn-out sump pumps are easily replaced and even seeping masonry foundations can be sealed with an exterior waterproofing membrane.
Potential problems you may have spotted outdoors can also be permanently remedied. Gutters can be easily cleaned and repaired. Underground downspout extensions will carry discharge water away from the foundation and often some minor re-grading will take care of those “negative slope” issues so that rain water won’t add to your home’s seepage problems.
One thing I haven’t addressed here is structural damage to the foundation. This is a more serious problem and generally requires major repairs but, in most cases, repair is possible that will permanently stabilize the home and its foundation. We’ll write more about foundation damage in the future.
So, no matter what your dream house looks like, you need to know that basement water problems are a possibility but needn’t be a deal-breaker. At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve helped more than 300,000 homeowners in Chicago, Milwaukee and northwest Indiana live their dreams with safe, dry basements. If you’re concerned about your dream house or any house, why not ask for our free advice?
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