St. Charles, IL 60174 is a town with a long history. Founded in 1834, the town predates Chicago and had been a home of the Pottawatomie Indians. From its initial spot straddling the Fox River, St. Charles has grown from a small town to a flourishing suburb, with a population topping 32,000 in 2010.
Like many towns with a similar history, St. Charles boasts an interesting mix of housing stock with older homes in and around the downtown area and 1990s and 2000s new construction on the outskirts. That, along with its position at one of the low points of the Fox Valley and proximity to the river, affects any efforts at repairing wet basements in St. Charles’ 15,000 homes.
In a town as diverse as St. Charles, homeowners may encounter any one (or several) of a number of issues when faced with repairing a wet basement.
High Water Table – There is water in the ground pretty much everywhere on earth; sometimes it’s near the surface, other times far below. The highest level of this groundwater in the earth is called the “water table.” A number of factors can influence the height of the water table and a common one is proximity to a body of water. With its position on the banks of the Fox River, properties in the downtown area of St. Charles are situated on a high water table with the river’s influence lessening with distance.
A high water table will create hydrostatic pressure under a home’s basement and will often result in seepage through the cove joint and/or through cracks in a poured concrete floor. If the water table is high enough, it can also help create lateral pressure on foundation walls by causing surrounding soil to expand. This can cause foundation walls to crack and allow water to enter the basement.
Variety of Foundations -- With homes as old as the 1840s and ‘50s and as new as last year, a town like St. Charles can be a virtual museum of residential foundation types. Newer homes will typically have poured concrete foundations; older homes may sit on a range of foundations from concrete block to brick to stone to telephone tile. Some of these older foundations may not have spread footings.
Any of these foundations can leak through the cove joint or through cracks in the floor. Poured concrete foundations are susceptible to wall cracks from lateral pressure; the same pressure can cause cracked mortar joints in concrete block, stone or other masonry walls.
Insufficient Water Management – It is difficult to have a wet basement if the soil outside the basement is dry. Of course, some water in the ground is beyond human control but it is possible to manage rain water and snowmelt to keep it out of the basement. Many older homes in St. Charles, as well as many of the newer ones were constructed without enough safeguards in place to provide the proper yard drainage.
For example, the typical St. Charles home certainly has gutters at the edges of its roof but many of them employ downspouts that simply end at ground level, dumping a lot of water right next to the foundation. Over the years, homeowners may have added splash blocks or short plastic extensions from the home improvement store but both of these “remedies” are inadequate to protect the foundation.
So, with all this going on, what’s a St. Charles homeowner to do when it’s time to repair a wet basement? The best results will come from choosing a basement waterproofing contractor that not only knows the area and its unique characteristics but also one that has a full set of tools at his disposal and not just a “crack specialist” or other one-trick pony. At U.S Waterproofing, we’ve helped many St. Charles homeowners repair wet basements, no matter what the cause, since our founding in 1957; you can see some of them here. Doesn’t it make sense to ask for our free advice?
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