About a month ago I posted on how to fix a water leak in a basement with concrete walls. However, older basements might be built using bricks, cinder blocks, or even stones and when those leak it requires a totally different strategy to waterproof them. For instance, because you have separate pieces of construction material mortared together you’re usually not going to be able to inject a urethane resin into a single continuous crack. And a lot depends on the actual symptoms.
For starters, a french drain and sump pump is often helpful to keep the water saturation outside the basement walls to a minimum. If the basement is surrounded by sopping wet dirt and there is even the tiniest crack water is going to find a way inside – or it will seep through the construction material and/ or mortar joints and deteriorate them over time until you have a sizable leak.
Nevertheless, a good drainage system might not be sufficient or even necessary if the basement wall is compromised by any number of factors. For instance, if the basement is surrounded by clay the clay will expand when wet and could apply enough pressure to the basement wall to cause it to bow inwards and also crack the construction material and mortar joints. One solution to a problem like that is to excavate an appropriate margin of soil around the house and replace it with a much less expansive soil.
You have to be careful fixing problems like this because there are some real clowns out there who are happy to sell you the wrong solution. After my last blog post on basement waterproofing I was contacted by Mark Anderson who operates a basement waterproofing company outside of Detroit. He shared this video of what they found when they were called in to rectify a problem that remained after one of these clowns “fixed” bowing basement walls and leaking with a $25,000 interior drainage system and wall anchors. The bigger issue, which had been ignored, was that there were sizable cracks in the mortar joints and that is a very common cause of basement water leaks. Fixing the mortar joints is actually cheaper than what was done and…oh by the way…the first contractors actually made the problem worse with the extra holes they made in the wall.
Generally, waterproofing these types of basements involves some combination of filling cracked mortar joints and covering the exterior of the wall with mortar and/ or a polyurethane membrane and possibly even plastic drainage board – all done from a trench dug around the outside of the basement.
Of course there are even more basic precautions that one should take to limit the water surrounding a basement. First, make sure that your and your neighbor’s yard don’t channel water directly to the perimeter of your house and that includes making sure you have functioning gutters in place that either drain to the sewer system or to the street. That could end up being the cheapest solution to a leaking basement.
#HomeMaintenance #Basements #HomeRepair #WaterLeaks
Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area’s full service real estate brokerage that offers home buyer rebates and discount commissions. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market or get an insider’s view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email using the form below. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.