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How to Waterproof a Basement in Chicago

Jun 22, 2012 • By Matthew Stock.

How to Waterproof a Basement in Chicago


Chicago.  City of the Big Shoulders.  Hog Butcher for the World.  Land of Leaky Basements.

OK, so there’s not much hog-butchering going on in town since the Stockyards shut down, but the other two descriptions are still valid.  I’ll let you judge the big shoulders for yourself but I can tell you that there are plenty of wet, leaky basements in the nearly 500,000 homes in Chicago, not to mention the hundreds of thousands more in the suburbs.

In an earlier blog, I wrote about some of the unique conditions that impact basement waterproofing in Chicago homes, such as:

  • Poured concrete foundations
  • Combined sewer system
  • Close proximity of houses with pavement between them
  • Exterior stairwells

All of these factors help determine how a basement waterproofing company should approach the repair of wet basements in Chicago.

For example, basement water seepage through a poured concrete foundation can come from several sources:

  • Cracks in the wall may be caused by over-saturated, shifting soil outside the foundation
  • Seepage through the floor or cove joint (where wall and floor meet) may be caused by the hydrostatic pressure of ground water
  • Clogged window well drains and/or leaky windows may allow water infiltration
  • Grading problems may allow water to seep in over the top of the foundation

A basement waterproofing company experienced in solving these problems should take these approaches:

  • Inject wall cracks with expanding urethane to ensure that the cracks are filled all the way to exterior soil, the most common way to stop leaks permanently.
  • Install interior drain tile next to the footing to collect and carry off ground water before it can seep into the basement.
  • Repair or replace failed window well drains and replace old, rusting windows to stop leaks
  • Advise homeowner on proper grading and/or install exterior waterproofing membrane to cover the joint where the home sits on the foundation 

For an older home with a brick, stone, telephone tile or concrete block foundation, cracked mortar joints are a common source of basement seepage and may require excavation of the exterior foundation wall, application of waterproofing membrane and installation of exterior drain tile and drainage board

Of course, there are simpler fixes to simpler problems that may also have a serious impact on keeping water out of a Chicago basement.

  • Make sure gutters are clean and in good repair to capture water runoff from your roof that might otherwise end up seeping into your basement.
  • If your downspouts are discharging right next to the foundation, you’re contributing to soil conditions that can cause cracks in your foundation walls.  Extend your downspouts (underground for the cleanest appearance) at least ten feet away from the foundation.
  • Broken or missing window well covers can be easily and economically replaced and will prevent debris from clogging drains and subsequent flooding of the window wells.

No matter what the problem or its remedy, waterproofing a Chicago basement requires a Chicago basement waterproofing company, one that knows its way around the Land of Leaky Basements.  U.S. Waterproofing was founded in a garage on Chicago’s North Side in 1957 and has served more than 300,000 satisfied customers since.  Just ask; we’re happy to help.

Tags: basement waterproofing facts, u.s. waterproofing, chicago basement waterproofing, basement waterproofing chicago

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