Hammond may be best known outside the Midwest as the place where Ralphie almost shot his eye out, but it’s actually a thriving city of 80,000, bordering Chicago on the east and enjoying a small slice of Lake Michigan shoreline. It’s one of the oldest cities in Indiana, with first settlers having arrived in 1847, only a few years after Chicago itself was founded.
Chances are that most of the city’s 34,000 homeowners have experienced a wet basement in Hammond. These can range from mildly annoying to majorly destructive and it’s a good idea to understand the local factors that come into play when determining the cause of the problem.
Why Do Homeowners Frequently Experience Wet Basements in Hammond?
In general, basement water problems arise from both construction and environmental factors specific to the home site. Hammond homes are no different; these are some of the things that lead to wet basements there:
- Sandy Soil – Like most of northwest Indiana, the soil in Hammond has a high sand content, both good news and bad news for local basements. Sandy soil is not subject to expansion like the clay soil found farther from Lake Michigan and it drains much better than clay. However, sandy soil is heavier than clay soil when saturated and can exert great lateral pressure on a foundation, leading to cracks and bowing. Also, sandy soil can drain so rapidly during heavy rains that drain tile systems can be overwhelmed by the surge of water.
- High Water Table – There is water in the ground everywhere, sometimes near the surface, sometimes deeply buried. The highest point to which this water reaches underground is called the water table and, the higher it is, the more likely it is to create hydrostatic pressure under a home’s foundation. One of the factors that influence the water table is proximity to a body of water and, with its location so near to Lake Michigan, Hammond has the same high water table common throughout northwest Indiana.
- Concrete Block Foundations – Home foundations constructed of concrete block are very common in northwest Indiana and Hammond homes are no exception. Concrete block creates as solid a foundation as poured concrete but it is subject to different types of seepage and damage. For example, because the blocks are held together by mortar and mortar is the weakest part of the wall, mortar joints may deteriorate and allow seepage. Also, the concrete block itself is porous and it is possible for water to seep through the block and into the basement.
- Lake Effect Snow – “Lake effect snow” is an unknown term to someone who doesn’t live near the Great Lakes. This winter phenomenon is caused by cold winds blowing across the warmer waters of large bodies of water and, because of locally prevailing wind patterns, tends to affect northwest Indiana more than other areas. Heavier than normal snowfalls mean that more snow piles up around a home’s foundation and with the coming of spring or even an unseasonably warm winter day, the resulting snowmelt can very quickly end up in a Hammond basement.
So, when a homeowner experiences a wet basement in Hammond, there are a number of possible causes and one or a combination of them will be the source of the problem. It takes an experienced eye and knowledge of basements and how they leak to identify the cause and to recommend and implement a permanent repair. At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve been helping homeowners in Hammond and elsewhere in northwest Indiana keep their basements dry for decades, regardless of water table, soil or heavy snow, so why not ask for our free advice?