Lincoln Park, home of DePaul University, is one of Chicago’s best known North Side neighborhoods and a very desirable area to call home. Decidedly urban, Lincoln Park features a wide variety of housing, from vintage graystones and brick mansions to early 20th Century frame houses to brand new townhomes.
Regardless of the age, style or construction of the house, homes in Lincoln Park have one thing in common besides ZIP Code 60614 – they are all susceptible to wet basements. The answer to the question “How do I fix it?” will vary, though, depending on the source of the seepage and the materials used in the foundation.
With houses in the area ranging in age from more than 100 years old to nearly new, it’s no surprise that a variety of foundations can be found under Lincoln Park homes. Most common, as it is in most of Chicago, is the poured concrete foundation, which is typical of all but the oldest homes in the neighborhood. Vintage Lincoln Park homes are more likely to have a masonry foundation constructed of concrete block, stone or even brick, all held together with mortar. Some repair methods will be the same regardless of the foundation; others will differ.
Drain Tile – Drain tile is the closest thing to a universal repair for wet basements. It can be installed on the exterior of a foundation, where it alleviates lateral pressure from over-saturated soil outside the foundation that can cause cracks and structural foundation damage. Installed on the interior of a foundation, it relieves hydrostatic pressure under the foundation and eliminates seepage through the cove joint and through cracks in the basement floor. In either case, drain tile is perforated PVC pipe (required by Chicago city codes) which is buried next to the foundation footings in a bed of washed stone. The drain tile carries off ground water to a sump pump where it is ejected from the foundation and carried to the sewer (another Chicago requirement.)
Exterior Waterproofing Membrane – In Lincoln Park homes with masonry foundations, seepage into the basement may be coming through mortar joints or through porous cement block or brick. This type of seepage cannot be repaired from the inside, claims by makers of “waterproofing” paint notwithstanding. The best permanent repair for seepage through a masonry foundation wall is to apply an exterior waterproofing membrane. This membrane is asphalt-modified polyurethane that is troweled on to the wall after excavating to the foundation footings. Once cured, it provides an impermeable “positive-side” barrier to further seepage. Neither roofing tar (or any other above-ground sealant) nor “damp-proofing” will provide the same protection.
One potential problem in applying an exterior waterproofing membrane in Lincoln Park, as in any urban neighborhood, is that homes being in close proximity can make excavation difficult or even impossible. When this occurs, interior drain tile is a great alternative to handle seepage through masonry walls.
Crack Injection – Poured concrete foundation walls are under great lateral pressure from the soil outside. When over-saturation increases this pressure, walls may crack and allow seepage into the basement. When this occurs, the best method of repair is to inject the cracks from the interior with expanding polyurethane. This material expands to fill the cracks all the way to the outside soil, creating a permanent seal that stops seepage and remains flexible when cured to prevent the crack from re-opening when minor foundation movement happens.
Regardless of the type of foundation or the required repair, one thing is true for all Lincoln Park homes – homeowners want a basement waterproofing contractor that knows their homes and offers a full range of services. At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve been helping homeowners in Lincoln Park and all over Chicago ever since our founding in 1957 and we not only fix wet basements, we fix them permanently, with a minimum of inconvenience and at a fair price. Why not ask for our free advice?
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