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Basement Crack Repairs and Water Proofing


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Got a Leaky Basement?

After every spring snow melt or rainstorm, does water accumulate at the bottom of your interior basement foundation wall? Do you have a structurally unsound concrete, cinderblock, or wood foundation wall that is allowing water in? Maybe you have a basement window well that fills with water and causes your window to leak water into your basement? Are you building a new house and find yourself weighing the benefits of waterproofing your basement foundation rather than damp-proofing it. Regardless of what your basement foundation issues are, Grounds Master Inc. will have a solution.

Why do Basements Start Leaking?

As houses settle, concrete or cinderblock can develop stress cracks that leak water. The exterior foundation damp-proofing, or tar, also deteriorates allot sooner than most people realize, leaving the wall surface open to attack by moisture. Water also corrodes imbedded steel, which rusts, expands, and can further crack the concrete. A rainstorm or melting snow temporarily raises the groundwater level. When water accumulates around the foundation, hydrostatic pressure builds up and can cause the basement to leak. Clay-rich soils do not drain well and hold rainwater right against the foundation walls. Water pushes its way inside through any cracks, joints, or larger pores in the concrete. Water will always travel along the path of least resistance — and that can be your cracked wall. Finally, let’s not forget about window-wells which can hold pools of water that eventually filter through the basement windows and into the basement itself. Interior damage resulting by flooded window-wells is an all too common occurrence.

Does Your Problem Look Like This?

problem-look-like-this

Start Troubleshooting the Problem

    • Is the water or moisture from the inside or outside?

      Moisture can be leaking into your basement from the outside, or it could be condensed moisture from inside. There’s a simple, non-technical method to rule out inside moisture. Simply take some tape and put it over the area of the foundation wall where water is collecting. Check back in a day or two to see where the moisture collects. If the moisture is trapped between the tape and the wall, it’s coming from outside!

Technical advancements now allow the construction industry to view or scan accumulated moisture or temperature variances without disturbing the finished interior wall. Though this technology is available, it can be costly and the results over emphasized. These very precise scanned readings will show moisture or temperature differences, but moisture in the wall does not always imply a cracked or leaky wall. Moisture can accumulate in a concrete wall for a multitude or reasons. The challenge then focuses on investigating what those causes might be. Is it the construction of the building, or is it environmental influences – or both?

  • Is a crack suspected to be the culprit of your water leakage?

    If a crack is suspected to be the culprit of your water leakage, you should always inspect the inside wall first. This will require the removal of any drywall or wall board in the area of the accumulated moisture. The insulation, wall studs, and interior foundation wall itself should be visually inspected for moisture, cracks, or large pores in the concrete, plus any signs of mold. If your house foundation was constructed using cinder block or treated wood, the method of trouble shooting remains the same.

  • How is your yard Grade or Landscape?

    Even though the only method to safely seal up a leaky basement is by exterior waterproofing, homeowners must always consider that easy preventative maintenance will come from a properly sloped or graded yard. Proper landscape methods will assist in allowing water to roll off and away from the house foundation. Additionally, homeowners with water logged window-wells may also be able to drain water away with properly installed window-well drainage systems.

  • Could it be the eavestrough and downspouts?

    Your house may still have a crack that needs waterproofing, but the efficiency and placement of your eavestrough and downspout can make the difference between getting some moisture in your basement, or getting gallons of water in your basement. If you don’t have eavestroughs, then get them. Make sure that the system isn’t plugged up with seasonal debris such as leaves and branches. Make sure that the water can flow. Finally, ensure that the water flowing out of the eavestrough and through the downspout, is travelling well away from the house foundation. Rainwater off a roof translates into a lot of gallons. For example, a 1500 sq ft roof can shed almost 1000 plus gallons of water during a heavy rain. The house foundation and weeping tile (if installed) can only handle so much water before it too will fail. Everything has a limit.

Other ways that water can enter your basement:
    • Through cold-joints in the concrete. These are essentially areas where concrete was poured at two different times and never formed a bond. One common cold-joint is the area between the foundation wall where it sits on the footing. This area is protected from water by the weeping-tile, but for those homes not equipped with weeping-tile, the environmental stressors a house faces can become damaging.
  • Where ever exposed metal in the concrete has rusted out and allowed a pathway for the water to enter. Rebar and tie marks are common culprits, as are the support hangers for precast concrete stairs.
  • Holes drilled in the concrete foundation for utilities which are below grade.
  • Structurally damaged walls, The walls have flexed or bowed under the environmental stressors.
    • Concrete that is pitted or has voids within the wall. These often occur during construction, but the effects of poor workmanship won’t show up till much later. One such example is seen in low quality concrete pours in ICF foundation construction. This style of foundation offers customers a higher insulation rating, but it never reveals the quality of the concrete pour for inspection purposes. The attached insulation on both sides of the concrete always conceals any flaws that may exist in the concrete, and contrary to popular perception, the insulation is not a waterproofing product.
  • Cinderblock foundations can take on water through a crack or through any of the many mortar joints that make up the wall structure. The wall is essentially hollow and can collect water much like a tank. Eventually the water gets out – into the basement living space.
  • Wood foundations can leak through the plywood itself, or the joint between sheets of plywood. Many of these foundations were waterproofed with a plastic poly wrap (vapour barrier plastic). It takes very little to tear into this plastic and allow a pathway for water to flow.
  • The “water-fall” effect. This is a simple yet complicated problem to fix. In this example, the basement foundation wall is in good shape, but it is the grade or landscaping that is too high. It is not uncommon to have a building construction project fail to consider the surrounding drainage issues that the developing area will face. In the end, homeowners compete to ward off the flowing water from their property and their neighbors by building up their land with topsoil. The soil level – or grade – surpasses the upper level of the foundation. When the grade becomes as high or higher than the top of the concrete foundation, where the concrete ends and the upper wood structure begins, water simply seeps through the wood barrier and flows over-top of the foundation, much like a “water-fall”. There are a multitude of remedies or “quick-fixes” for this type of problem, but none that will stand the test of time. The solution is in the landscaping. The yard must come down! Once the volume of landscaping material has been reduced, only then can you focus on strategies to manage water drainage while redeveloping the yard.

 

1. Basement/Foundation Crack Repairs:

Involves the excavation of the crack area (usually 6′ x 3′ approx.), wall cleaning and preparation of the individual crack(s), sealing the crack(s) with a polyurethane or epoxy injection, then finally installing a 3ft wide (or greater) waterproof membrane over the entire crack surface area. Supportive final sealing products are then used for the exterior of the repaired area. The excavated area is backfilled and first grading completed. A detailed photo CD of the work completed is supplied to all customers.
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2. Foundation Waterproofing:

Involves the excavation of a specific exterior foundation wall(s), wall cleaning and preparation of individual cracks, sealing the cracks with a polyurethane or epoxy injection, the installation of a waterproof membrane over the entire foundation surface, followed by the installation of secondary dimpled membrane or drain board. Finally, filter-covered weeping-tile and drain stone are installed or replaced depending on the situation of the structure. All excavated areas are backfilled and first grading completed. A detailed photo CD of the work completed is supplied to all customers.
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In the Saskatoon area, the current industry standard for new residential building construction includes the installation of weeping-tile around the foundation footing (bottom of the basement), vertical drain stacks at every basement window, and a sump-pit for the water to drain into. When one or more walls are excavated and waterproofed on an existing (older) foundation wall, the additional installation of weeping-tile should always be considered.

In a house that was constructed without a weeping-tile (or clay-tile) system, this means that the customer will be facing additional costs associated with draining off the water from the newly installed weeping-tile, into a sump-pit, which must be installed inside the (interior) basement living space. In the past,  customers who were having basement waterproofing done, had opted to not have the new weeping-tile installed, mostly due to the additional costs associated to the sump-pit installation, and the fact that they did not want a sump-pit installed in their beautifully developed home. Though this is never recommended, in the end, the final decision will always be left up to the customer.

3. Window-Well Drainage:

Weeping-tile is a pre-requisite for this job. The window area is excavated down to the existing weeping-tile. A vertical section of weeping-tile is “T”-ed into the main weeping-tile below. The new vertical drain stack is anchored to the wall, a drain cover and geotextile wrap installed, and the excavated area is backfilled. The new window-well will be installed to the foundation around the window, and decorative drain rock placed inside the window-well concealing the new drain. A detailed photo CD of work completed is supplied to all customers.

The current industry standard for residential building construction includes the installation of weeping-tile around the foundation footing, vertical drain stacks at every basement window, and a sump-pit for the water to drain into.  In the past few years, some new homes have begun developing a window-well drainage problem with their window-well drain stacks. At the time of construction, these vertical drain stacks were simply hung over-top of the foundation weeping-tile, then filled with crushed rock, then the area back-filled.

One of two problems occurred, First, the vertical drain stack was not mounted to the foundation and simply moved during the backfill process. It no longer was in place to drain over the foundation weeping-tile. Secondly, the practice of filling the vertical window-well drain stack with crushed rock was thought to serve two purposes: it prevented the vertical drain stack from collapsing (crushing) during the backfill process, and it slowed the infiltration of dirt and sediment into the system. This was a failed use of logic in a Canadian climate. Aside from the sediment slowly making its way into the pours of the crushed rock and solidifying them, the spring snow melt added further complications. The melting snow would travel through the rock in the vertical drainage pipe, then freeze due to the cold ground temperature. The porous rock simply turned into a solid mass and window-wells started accumulating water. The windows themselves would start to leak water into the basement living space.

Grounds Master Inc. has always taken an alternative approach to the installation of window-well drainage, to which point, others have eventually followed suit. Window-well drainage pipes have always been “T-ed” into the working weeping-tile system and never filled with any drainage material which can slow down the flow of water. All window-well drainage pipes are secured to the wall and have drain covers and a geotextile clothe over them to filter out the soil.

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A Final Word

Grounds Master Inc. prides itself in the services it provides customers. This web-site allows all customers an opportunity to educate themselves about the waterproofing products on the market. Specific manufacturer links have been added for the products used. Should a customer request a product not listed, Grounds Master Inc. will be happy to accommodate their request.

Products we use:

  • 3M Canada
  • Nu-West
  • Brock White Construction
  • Bakor
  • Superseal
  • Soprema
  • Mar-flex
  • SealGuard
  • National Concrete
  • Inland Products
  • SIKA Products
  • Tecsteel

 

top-arrowGrounds Master Inc. is a registered, licensed, and insured company operating in Saskatoon and area. We thank all customers for visiting our website and welcome any inquiries into the services we offer.