The Great Lakes region, particularly the part that surrounds Lake Michigan, is a unique part of the United States. Ports there are served by inland waterways found nowhere else in the country. The vast water resources prevent shortages found in the West and Southwest and provide drinking water of the highest quality.
There are disadvantages as well. The sheer size of the Great Lakes and the volume of water they contain have a significant effect on weather in the region. So-called “lake effect” storms are common, particularly in the winter when the phenomenon of “lake effect snow” can be an almost daily occurrence in some areas.
All that water also has an effect on the region’s geology, causing areas surrounding the lakes to have a higher water table than inland areas. Erosion caused by movement of lake water is also an issue as is the content of soils in areas close to the water.
For homeowners in the region, all this geological and hydrological stuff means that it’s pretty common to have problems with water in their basements and that the conditions created by proximity to the lakes dictate certain approaches to Great Lakes basement waterproofing.
There are several factors that impact how Great Lakes basement waterproofing is done.
Foundations– Homes in the Great Lakes region typically have full-depth foundations that create basements, although there also homes built on crawl spaces and slab foundations in the area. In newer homes, as in those built since the 1960’s, these foundations will typically be constructed of poured concrete, although in certain areas like northwest Indiana and Milwaukee concrete block foundations are prevalent. In older homes, foundations of brick, stone and terra cotta may be found.
Soil – Types of soil surrounding the Great Lakes vary widely but two of the most common ingredients are clay and sand. Clay soil is known as being expansive, that is, it absorbs water and expands rather than draining. Sandy soil, on the other hand, absorbs very little water and doesn’t expand.
Water Table – The water table is the term used to describe the highest level of water in the ground in a particular area. One of the factors that influence the height of a water table is proximity to bodies of water so the Great Lakes region tends to have a higher water table that diminishes as one moves inland.
These factors combine to require certain techniques and expertise in doing Great Lakes basement waterproofing. For example, the most common source of seepage in those poured concrete basements is from a non-structural crack in the wall; a savvy basement waterproofing contractor will repair that by injecting it with expanding polyurethane. Seepage through the mortar joints or porous block or brick of a masonry foundation, on the other hand, can be repaired permanently by applying an exterior waterproofing membrane.
The different types of soil can exert different pressures on foundation walls or create other circumstances that cause cracking or even structural damage. When clay soil expands from over-saturation, for example, it can place lateral pressure on foundation walls, making it important that a Great Lakes basement waterproofing contractor understands how to manage water outside the foundation to prevent over-saturation.
Obviously, it’s important for the homeowner to find the right Great Lakes basement waterproofing contractor. For those on the southeastern side of Lake Michigan, including the Chicago and Milwaukee areas and northwest Indiana, the experts at U.S. Waterproofing have been waterproofing basements in your corner of the Great Lakes since 1957 and have more than 300,000 satisfied customers to our credit. Why not ask for our free advice?
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