Chicago is often described as a “city of neighborhoods” and our neighborhoods are distinguishable from those in many big cities in that the predominant type of residence is the single-family home.
Although these homes are built in many styles – bungalows, cottages, brownstones, etc. – they all have one thing in common: basements. Not many homes in Chicago are built on slabs so most homeowners enjoy the extra space, whether for storage or living, that a basement affords.
Of course, with the convenience of having a basement comes the possibility of basement water problems and the average age of a Chicago home and the high water table resulting from the city’s proximity to Lake Michigan makes it likely that a homeowner will experience them at some point.
So, what causes these basement water problems and, more importantly, how do homeowners solve them?
Basement water problems in Chicago start with water that is absorbed by the soil around the home’s foundation. When this soil becomes oversaturated, usually from heavy rains or snowmelt, it swells and creates pressure against the basement walls and floors. This water naturally seeks ways to relieve the pressure and the slightest crack or opening in the foundation becomes a point of entry for water into the basement.
The way to solve a particular basement water problem depends on the source of the seepage. For example, the most common way that water enters a Chicago basement is through a non-structural crack in a basement wall that may have been caused by settlement or some other minor movement of the foundation.
Not surprisingly, the way to solve this problem is to fill and seal the crack. A basement waterproofing contractor will clean the crack of debris, insert a number of plastic injection ports at intervals along its length and cover the crack with a coat of fast-curing epoxy. Once the epoxy sets, the installer will inject each port with expanding polyurethane that will completely fill the crack and create a barrier on the exterior of the wall that will prevent further seepage.
Another frequently found basement water problem in Chicago is what is known as “cove seepage,” water entering the basement through the cove joint that exists between the basement wall and floor. Unlike the wall crack above, filling this opening is not an option – hydrostatic pressure will push out any type of sealant, including hydraulic cement, and cause the repair to fail.
Instead, the solution to this water problem is to install interior drain tile, a system of perforated, corrugated plastic pipe embedded in washed gravel that will alleviate ground water pressure and carry the water off to a sump pump that will discharge it from the house. Interior drain tile is installed under the basement floor around the perimeter; exterior drain tile, which functions similarly, is installed next to the foundation footings on the outside.
Further, when a basement water problem is caused by water seeping through a wall, due to cracked mortar joints or porous concrete, exterior drain tile is coupled with an exterior waterproofing membrane. This membrane is formed by applying a thick coat of asphalt-modified polyurethane to the foundation walls and covering it with heavy duty drainage board that will protect the membrane and channel water to the drain tile.
Regardless of which of these types of basement water problems you may experience in your Chicago home (or any others) one thing is true – you will need the advice and assistance of a full-service basement waterproofing contractor. At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve been solving basement water problems in Chicago and the surrounding area since 1957 and we’ve helped more than 300,000 homeowners keep their homes dry and safe. Why not ask for our free advice?
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