Oak Lawn got its real start in 1909 when it was first incorporated but its history stretches back to mid-19th Century when Black Oak Grove Road, now 95th Street, was built and opened access to the area. The town grew steadily and enjoyed a jump in population growth during the 1950’s and 60’s. In 1967, a massive tornado struck the area, causing major destruction and the loss of 30 lives.
The town rebuilt quickly and today boasts of nearly 57,000 resident living in 23,000 homes, approximately half of which were built during the post-World War II housing boom in the U.S. Two thirds of today’s Oak Lawn homes were built prior to 1970.
As happens in neighboring suburbs like Hickory Hills and Evergreen Park, older homes in Oak Lawn have begun to show their age and homeowners are facing maintenance problems; many of them need to seal their basements to prevent seepage.
Of course, each home is different and the right approach to sealing a basement will be specific to a particular home but there are three common ways to do the job.
Crack Repair – The majority of homes in the Chicago area are built on foundations of poured concrete and Oak Lawn homes are no exception. The most common source of seepage in concrete foundations is a non-structural crack in the wall, which can be permanently repaired from the interior by injecting it with expanding polyurethane. The polyurethane expands to fill the cracks all the way to the outside soil, forming a seal that remains flexible when cured so that minor foundation movement does not cause the crack to re-open.
If the crack is inaccessible from inside the basement, it can be repaired on the exterior. A small hole is dug down to the foundation footings at the site of the crack and is filled with sodium bentonite clay. The clay forms a permanent, pliable barrier against ground water intrusion.
Exterior Waterproofing – Basements in Oak Lawn are also susceptible to seepage through aging mortar joints, patches of porous concrete or masonry or over the top of the foundation wall. This type of seepage can be stopped by applying an exterior waterproofing membrane to the foundation wall. The membrane, asphalt-modified polyurethane, is troweled onto the wall in a thick coat to form an impermeable barrier. It shouldn’t be confused with “damp-proofing,” a thin coat sprayed onto foundations during construction.
If an unusual amount of ground water is present, the membrane can be complemented by installing exterior drain tile and heavy-duty drainage board to protect the membrane and channel water downward.
Interior Drain Tile – Basement seepage often occurs through cracks in the floor or from the cove joint, caused by hydrostatic pressure under the foundation. Interior drain tile, perforated pipe buried in a bed of washed gravel, alleviates this pressure and removes ground water to a sump pump for disposal. The drain tile is installed along the inside perimeter of the foundation footings; installed properly it requires no maintenance.
No matter what the best method of repair, the Oak Lawn homeowner who needs to seal his or her basement requires the help and expertise of a basement waterproofing contractor who knows the community and its homes. At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve helped hundreds of Oak Lawn homeowners keep their basements dry and count them among our 300,000 satisfied customers. Why not ask for our free advice?
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