Oak Park is one of Chicago’s better known suburbs outside the immediate area, due largely to its association with famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the number of Wright houses that were built there. Right behind Wright in Oak Park celebrity cred is iconic American author Ernest Hemingway who grew up in Oak Park but had some not-so-complimentary things to say about it after he had risen to fame.
These two giants were not the only illustrious Oak Parkers – the list is long and varied: Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan; McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc; beloved actors Bob Newhart and Betty White; rapper Ludacris; Illinois governor Pat Quinn, and, to the chagrin of many natives, mob boss Sam Giancana.
Of course, the everyday residents of Oak Park far outnumber the famous (and infamous) and they face the ups and downs of life in the “World’s Largest Village.” Considering that more than two-thirds of Oak Park’s 23,000 homes were built before 1940, many of them are dealing with the problems common to older homes, such as needing to seal their basements.
Every home in Oak Park is different, of course, and there is no one-size-fits-all method of sealing a basement but there are three commonly used methods that cover most situations.
Exterior Waterproofing – Given the age of many of Oak Park’s homes, it is not uncommon to find more masonry foundations – brick, stone, telephone tile – there than in other Chicago suburbs. Although the newer poured concrete foundations can admit water through porous spots or over the top of the wall, these masonry foundations are prone to seepage through cracked or deteriorating mortar joints or through porous stone, tile or brick. One way to seal such a basement permanently is to apply an exterior waterproofing membrane, a thick coating of asphalt-modified polyurethane that is troweled onto the outside of the foundation wall to form an impenetrable water barrier.
In extreme situations, the membrane can be complemented by exterior drain tile and drainage board that protects the membrane and channels water downward.
Interior Drain Tile – No matter what the construction of the foundation, one common source of seepage is when hydrostatic pressure under the foundation forces water in through cracks in the basement floor or the cove joint. Interior drain tile, which is a system of perforated pipe embedded in washed gravel under the basement floor, can relieve this pressure and transport the ground water to a sump pump. When installed properly, interior drain tile never requires maintenance.
Crack Repair – Newer homes in Oak Park are likely to be built on poured concrete foundations, the most common in the Chicago area. Frequently, these foundations suffer non-structural cracks that allow seepage into the basement. The best way to repair these cracks permanently is to inject them from the interior with expanding polyurethane that seals the crack by filling it to the outside soil. The polyurethane remains flexible after it cures to ensure that minor foundation movement will not re-open the crack.
If the crack can’t be accessed from the inside it can be sealed on the exterior with sodium bentonite clay, which forms a pliable, permanent barrier against water on the “positive” side.
Regardless of the method chosen, an Oak Park homeowner who needs to have their basement sealed will require the assistance of a skilled basement waterproofing contractor. At U.S. Waterproofing, we have helped hundreds of Oak Park homeowners seal their basements in the past 56 years and we understand the needs of the unique community there. Why not ask for our free advice?
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