What causes wetness in basements? The smarty-pants answer to the question is just one word. Water. Having established that water is the cause, let’s look at why this happens, how this happens, and how to remedy the problem of water in your home’s basement or crawl space.
Your home’s foundation was not meant to be the Hoover Dam, but in homes where water drainage is inadequate, your home begins to act like a dam. Water, instead of moving away from your home, begins to flow back towards it. The process is called “hydrostatic pressure.” It’s a fancy name for a nasty and potentially costly problem.
This problem is usually the result of clogged Footing Drains. These drains are thick pipes with holes, installed just outside your home’s foundation. They’re designed to that water drips inside. Stone is laid on top of the drain pipe to prevent soil from clogging the pipe. However, over time, backfill seeps through the stone and clogs the pipe. The only way to clean the footing drain is to excavate the ground and flush the pipe. Enter Groundhog Excavating. We have the experience and expertise to ensure that it’s done properly and that your footing drains are restored to their proper function.
When the water puddles formed because of clogged footing drains begin to form within backfill and push against your home’s foundation, the hydrostatic pressure forces water into the porous concrete and through cracks in the block and mortar. When unaddressed, hydrostatic pressure results in cracks in your basement walls and its poured concrete foundation.
The backfilled soil surrounding your basement foundation can also cause foundation cracking and leaking. It may be associated with your home’s drainage tiles and gutters that aren’t working properly. The soil begins to settle and make it even easier for hydrostatic pressure to take place. Soil settlement also happens when there are issues with your home’s footing. By footing, we mean the material on which your home rests. Sometimes at the time of building, a home isn’t properly supported, backfilled, or if the soil under the foundation was not properly compacted.
There are other factors that can cause soil settlement cracks. Excavation work going on in the area may be a culprit. Freeze-and-thaw cycles can also contribute to basement cracks and water leakage. This is because concrete naturally expands and contracts with the elements. As the ground around the foundation freezes and thaws the concrete expands and contracts. This causes small vertical hairline cracks.
Whatever the causes of cracks in your basement’s walls, floors, or foundation, it’s important to give them attention as soon as possible to avoid further damage. Quick action can help you avoid the structural problems that water damage can bring.
New innovations in wall crack repair make it possible to fix cracks without high-pressure injection equipment or the need to drill holes in the foundation wall. Let’s look at a few of those solutions, along with their drawbacks and benefits
It’s possible to patch a leaking crack with a caulk seal. But water still fills the crack behind the patch. It’s no match for efflorescence– a white, powdery mineral salt that is deposited by the water. It doesn’t take long for it to break the caulk’s seal. The pressure from the water will cause it to peel off within 6 months to a year.
Some contractors will try to fix the crack by chiseling it into an inverted V-groove and fill it with hydraulic cement. This plugs the hole, but it bonds with the cement very poorly. Just as with a caulk seal, efflorescence will begin to work its way around the rigid cement fill. After about two years this fix fails and the water problem is back.
Epoxy Crack Injections
Sometimes, contractors will inject epoxy or even grout into a foundation wall crack to seal it. These seals are powerful and can even make the basement wall stronger. However, epoxy can only be applied to a completely dry surface.
There are other problems with epoxy. It’s slow curing and can run out the other side of the wall crack before it finally hardens, making it ineffective. Epoxy crack fillings are also rigid and inflexible. Not only does the plug fail as the wall expands and contracts, it can even cause a new crack to develop near the existing one.
Urethane Injection is one of the better methods of sealing leaking foundation cracks. Unlike epoxy, this method effectively seals off the crack without running out the other side. It also flexes slightly with wall movement. However, cracks tend to expand, and urethane often doesn’t expand as much as the cracks do. A 1/16th-inch crack can easily expand to 1/8th inch. Urethane can’t keep up. Although it lasts longer than most solutions, eventually this solution will fail, too.
Polyurethane Polymer Injection
The best method to repair a leaking wall crack is to inject a high-viscosity polyurethane polymer into the crack. It’s also the also least invasive. This is our method at Groundhog Excavating. Unlike epoxy, polyurethane can bond well to both wet and dry concrete, and its high viscosity will allow it to fill even hairline cracks.
Unlike urethane, a polyurethane polymer can expand as much as 20 times its volume. This means that as the wall continues its natural process of shifting and moving, the seal holds. And unlike expensive exterior methods, the work can be completed in a few hours.
For extra protection, the Groundhog Excavating team can also waterproof your foundation with a rubber membrane — a product that when dry is like rubber to the touch. Normally we apply it the exterior walls but it some cases, the only option is to repair the foundation from the inside.
Trust the experience and knowledge of Groundhog Excavating’s waterproofing experts to find the best solution for your basement water problems, no matter how large or small. Get in touch with us today at 778-233-7499. You can also use our online contact