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Basement Foundation Cracks: Serious Problem in Highland Park IL 60035

Apr 15, 2014 • By Matthew Stock.


Highland Park is a community of about 30,000 residents located on the banks of Lake Michigan on Chicago’s North Shore.   A year-round shopping, dining and cultural destination, Highland Park becomes even more popular in the warmer weather months.

The Port Clinton Art Festival, one of the country’s largest juried art fairs, draws more than a quarter-million visitors to Highland Park for its weekend showing.

The art fair has been joined by the Taste of Highland Park where the city’s restaurants offer up street food and live performances help draw crowds.

The longest-standing attraction in Highland Park is the Ravinia Festival, the country’s oldest outdoor music venue.  Ravinia, as it is known, presents jazz and popular artists throughout the spring and summer to crowds of thousands and serves as the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  Founded as a recreational park in 1904, Ravinia suffered a few early financial setbacks but has been operating continuously since 1936 and is one of the top summer attractions in the Chicago area.

Life in Highland Park, of course, isn’t all sculpture and symphony concerts.  Owners of the 12,000 homes in Highland Park, especially the half that are more than 50 years old, often discover basement foundation cracks in their homes and these can present a serious problem.

Basement Foundation Cracks in Highland Park Homes

Just as in homes in nearby Winnetka and Glencoe, basement foundation cracks in Highland Park homes fall into two categories: structural and non-structural:

Non-structural cracks are the less damaging of the two because they don’t threaten the structure but they do seep water.  These cracks are narrow, usually less than 1/8”, are more or less vertical in poured concrete walls and do not show up in a discernible pattern.  In masonry walls, these cracks generally show up in a “stair-step” configuration in mortar joints.

Structural cracks are more worrisome to homeowners because they can cause instability of the entire structure.  These cracks will be wider than 1/8” and, in a poured concrete wall, will usually be seen in a pattern that includes one vertical crack in the center, an angled crack across each upper corner and, invisible from inside, vertical cracks on the outside where the damaged wall meets the other walls.

In masonry walls, cracks run through mortar joints and generally lead to an inward bulging or bowing area in the center of the wall.

Non-structural cracks must be repaired to prevent or stop basement seepage.   In poured concrete walls, these cracks can be permanently filled and sealed by injecting them with expanding polystyrene from inside.  If the crack is inaccessible from inside it can be repaired on the exterior by creating a below-ground barrier of sodium bentonite clay.

Seepage from cracks in masonry walls can be managed with interior drain tile or sealed by installing an exterior waterproofing membrane, a thick coating of asphalt-modified polyurethane, to the exterior foundation walls.

Repairing structural cracks is a bit more involved.  If the damaged wall has moved less than 2” inches inward, it can be repaired with carbon fiber strips, which are epoxied to the surface of the wall at intervals determined by engineering data and secured at the top to stabilize the wall.  If the wall has moved more than 2”, it will be necessary to use low-profile steel channel, anchored to the footings and to the floor joists above to secure the wall and prevent further movement.  Either repair can be covered by a standard stud wall and will require no maintenance or adjustment.

In any event, repairing non-structural seeping cracks requires the help of a basement waterproofing contractor and a foundation repair expert is needed for structural cracks.  At U.S. Waterproofing, our basement waterproofing team has been sealing cracks permanently in thousands of homes since 1957 and our foundation repair experts employ the latest technology and engineering data to ensure every foundation is permanently stabilized.  Why not ask for our free advice?

Want to know more about basement foundation cracks in Highland Park?  Please post your questions in the Comments box below.

Tags: highland park basement foundation cracks, basement foundation cracks highland park

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