Along with being one of the nation’s most well-to-do suburbs, Winnetka IL has some other enviable traits including great schools, beautiful parks and a scenic location along the shores of Lake Michigan. Perhaps one of its most interesting features is not a physical one but a unique civic structure that has done much to maintain political harmony in the village since 1915.
The Winnetka Caucus is a committee of the whole, comprising all village residents of voting age, with a mission of keeping partisan politics out of village elections. The Caucus Council, 68 resident volunteers, does the work of the caucus, including interviewing and recommending candidates for village offices, writing platforms based on resident concerns that turn up in the Council’s annual survey and running the two Town Meetings.
At the Town Meeting, which predates the Caucus by 25 years, residents vote on the slate of candidates proposed by the Council.
The Caucus system is also in use in other North Shore Suburbs, such as Northbrook and Glencoe, but it originated in Winnetka and is a beloved civic tradition there. Another beloved tradition in Winnetka is the number of graceful old homes that line the leafy streets and peer out over the lake. Beautiful and stately as these homes are, they still present typical maintenance and repair problems to their owners, many of whom find themselves in need of basement waterproofing.
Of course, each home in Winnetka is diagnosed and repaired on a case-by-case basis but there are three methods that will solve the majority of problems.
Interior Drain Tile – A very common source of wet basements in Winnetka is water that is forced through cracks in basement floors and through the cove joint by hydrostatic pressure under the foundation. This pressure is alleviated by installing interior drain tile, perforated pipe buried in a bed of washed gravel under the basement floor. The drain tile carries ground water to a sump pump for discharge to the outside. When it is installed properly, interior drain tile requires no maintenance.
Crack Repair – In foundations made of poured concrete seepage occurs most frequently from non-structural cracks in the foundation walls. The best way to permanently repair these cracks is to inject them with expanding polyurethane from the inside of the basement. The polyurethane fills the cracks all the way to the outside soil and remains flexible after curing to prevent minor foundation movement from re-opening the crack.
If the crack is inaccessible from inside the basement it can be repaired on the exterior by digging a small hole along the foundation at the site of the crack and filling it with sodium bentonite clay. The clay forms a pliable yet permanent barrier against water on the “positive side” of the foundation.
Exterior Waterproofing – Poured concrete foundations can admit water through patches of porous concrete or over the top of the foundation wall; masonry foundations through bad mortar joints or porous masonry units like concrete block, brick or telephone tile, a webbed terra cotta block often found in Winnetka. This type of seepage can be stopped by applying an exterior waterproofing membrane, a thick coat of asphalt-modified polyurethane, by troweling it onto the foundation wall. The membrane seals the wall against further seepage.
Because of Winnetka's proximity to Lake Michigan, the water table there tends to be higher than in inland communities. Consequently, a large amount of ground water is often present around foundations there and it may be a good idea to supplement the membrane by installing exterior drain tile and heavy-duty drainage board to protect the membrane and channel water downward.
Regardless of the recommended method, a Winnetka homeowner who needs to do basement waterproofing will require the help of a seasoned contractor that knows the village and its homes. At U.S. Waterproofing, we have been doing basement waterproofing in Winnetka and elsewhere in the Chicago for more than 56 years and have already helped hundreds of Winnetka homeowners. Please ask for our free advice.
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