When it comes to basement wall crack repair, there are many techniques to try, but which one should you try? And how do you know when to call an expert?
Do you have a basement that gets damp, smells musty, or has visible water stains? Water seepage in basements is a common problem that affects many homeowners. While it may seem like a minor inconvenience, it can actually lead to serious issues such as mold growth, structural damage, and even health problems. In this blog post, we will explore the causes of water seepage in basements and provide tips on how to fix it.
When winter comes around, it can bring a slew of problems for homeowners, one of which is the risk of basement moisture caused by the cold temperatures. Waterproofing your basement is essential for making sure that your home is protected from the damaging effects of moisture and winter basement waterproofing is a preventative measure that can make a big difference!
Types of Soil
Soil shifts and moves over time often as a result of how it handles moisture and the climate — including the freeze / thaw cycle. As soil shifts, it changes the support around your foundation, which can lead to cracks. And it’s those cracks that can allow in moisture and maybe even some pests.
Each type of soil is comprised of different properties that have various effects on the bedrock of a home. Soil with good structure is going to be more stable. The way in which soil handles wetting and drying cycles is also an important consideration, as expanding soil can put unwanted pressure on foundations and soil that retains too much moisture can cause the foundation to weaken.
Here are the most common types of soil and how they measure up:
Peat: Usually dark in color, peat is easily compactable because it holds a great deal of water, which makes it prone to shifting. This is not ideal soil for a foundation.
Clay: Because it’s made up of tiny particles, clay shrinks significantly when dry and expands when it’s moist. The extreme changes can put pressure on the foundation, which opens the door to potential cracks.
Silt: Usually smooth to the touch, this type of soil tends to retain water longer and drains poorly. This can push against and weaken foundations when wet.
Sand / Gravel: A better choice than peat, clay or silt, sand / gravel drains easily and does not retain moisture because it’s made up of larger particles. However, when wet, these particles can be washed away leaving gaps around the foundation.
Loam: Typically, a combination of sand, silt and clay, loam is an ideal soil type for supporting foundations, as it is able to maintain water at a balanced rate.
Rock: The strength and stability of rock makes it a great choice for foundations. However, it can be difficult to dig into, and homeowners should be sure the rock is level before constructing the foundation.
Effects of Drainage Around Your House on Your Foundation
So, what exactly happens when you have poor drainage around the house? More than you might think! Keeping your foundation safe is paramount to protecting your home and everyone in it. Here are some of the effects that constant, unmanaged drainage can have on your property:
Moving water affects anything it touches, which includes the soil around your home. The more drainage there is, the more erosion that will happen. Over time, that erosion will cause a significant amount of soil to be displaced.
Because your foundation was built with that soil around the home, any loss can cause shifting and reduce its overall support from the environment around it. The longer this erosion goes, the weaker your foundation becomes due to cracks and further shifting.
In addition to being displaced, soil also absorbs moisture. Depending on the type of soil around your home, its level of expansiveness can vary. The more expansive it is, the more risk your home is at when drainage is left uncontrolled.
Certain soils can absorb a great deal of moisture, expanding significantly. This puts pressure on your foundation and can quickly lead to cracks and shifting.
Soil expansion is a threat that can’t be completely eliminated. However, reducing drainage to the soil goes a long way to mitigating how much expanding it can do. Waterproofing around your foundation can often be the only way to prevent problems if you have soil with high potential for expansion.
We like to think of concrete as sturdy and reliable. While that is true, the properties of concrete aren’t exactly what you may expect. Primarily – did you know it’s porous? All those holes in concrete are susceptible to incoming moisture – and it’s common for most homes to experience absorption.
In small amounts, this absorption isn’t a major problem. The moisture enters in small amounts and can evaporate. But in home foundations with poor drainage issues, the constant assault of moisture means the concrete keeps absorbing more and more.
Over time, this water breaks down the concrete and leads to cracks. Those cracks weaken the foundation, and continue to grow unless dealt with. One ignored crack in your foundation is all it takes to lead to leaks and eventually major damage!
Improving Drainage Around Your House
Whether your home is resting on stable or not-so-stable soil, water drainage is an important part of maintaining the life of a foundation. Poor drainage can cause problems like water in the basement or structural damage, while proper surface drainage can lead moisture away from your home ultimately protecting the precious foundation. Here are some things you can do to ensure better drainage.
Roof gutters and downspouts: Gutters should be kept free of debris and direct water to downspouts that carry it away from the foundation. Be sure they’re draining at least six feet away from the home — downspout extensions can help!
Sufficient grading: Check to see if dirt is graded away from the home. Housing codes have various requirements, but it’s helpful if the ground slopes away from the foundation for a distance of eight feet or more.
Basement windows: Sometimes debris and water can collect near basement windows, so be sure to provide adequate drainage to the foundation drain.
Sump pumps remove excess water from around your basement and are best for minor amounts of groundwater. Ensure your sump pump is in good, working condition and consider a battery back-up.
Install foundation drains: This repair consists of removing portions of existing basement slab, installing new drains directing water to a sump pump and then installing new slab. Learn more about
basement waterproofing options
Fortunately, basement flooding in the winter is something you can fight back against. Read on to learn how to minimize the risks and keep your basement dry for the rest of this winter and beyond!
Tips to Fight Back Against Basement Flooding in Winter
It’s much easier and more cost effective to prepare your home for potential winter flooding than it is to deal with the emergencies that can come after. Before the snow hits, follow the Team EverDry winter checklist to make sure that you’re prepared.
Inspect Your Basement for Cracks
Concrete in your basement foundations tends to crack over time, and large cracks can lead to water seeping into your basement. These cracks can form from hydrostatic pressure, small shifts in the soil under your home, or many other small reasons that add up over the years.
Before the weather turns cold and wet, check your basement walls for any significant cracks. While small hairline fractures are hard to avoid, you want to pay attention to any crack that’s more significant than a small line – especially if you notice one growing since the last time you saw it! Repair any that you find by drying the crack, scrubbing out any loose concrete, and filling them with epoxy crack sealer.
If you’re not a DIY type, EverDry Toledo can help protect your home with foundation crack injections that will seal the gap to help stop moisture from getting in.
Clean Your Gutters
The value of healthy, functional gutters is something that many homeowners underestimate. They’re on the front line when it comes to defending your home from rain or snow moisture right against the foundation. Working gutters should be capable of capturing any melting snow on your roof and running it far enough from your foundation that it won’t add to pressure that may lead to cracking.
If your gutters have debris in them, it could cause problems like ice dams. These ice dams will let melting snow overflow from the side of the gutters, falling straight down onto the vulnerable sides of your home. The longer this is allowed to happen, the higher your chances of experience basement flooding in the winter.
Clear the Snow
Shoveling snow can feel like a punishment. But it’s a necessary part of keeping your property clear and safe. But when you’re done clearing the driveway, there’s still more to shovel!
Each time you go out to clear snow from your property, don’t forget to check the sides of your home. Snow that’s pressed up near the foundation of your home will eventually melt; the snow melt may happen quickly, putting a lot of pressure on the exterior of your basement.
You don’t need to completely remove the snow. Just do your best to clear a foot or two away from your foundation. This will go a long way towards preventing moisture buildup around your home and to the fight against winter basement flooding!
Protect Your Pipes
It’s no surprise that one of the most common causes of basement flooding in winter involves frozen pipes. Once a pipe experiences a freeze, it will suffer internal pressure that’s looking for a way to get out. Often times, the “escape” for moisture inside a frozen pipe will be bursting inside your basement. The biggest concern? You may not catch it right away!
Water damage happens fast. It only takes minutes to cause thousands of dollars of damage. And the last thing you want in the freezing cold is a lake of ice in your basement!
You can prevent pipe freezing from happening in your home. Take these precautions, especially if the forecast calls for severely cold weather overnight:
- Wrap your pipes with pipe wrap
- Consider a pipe warmer if your home frequently has frozen pipe issues
- Turn faucets on to let a very small drip of warm water out overnight
- Open cabinets in vanities or under your sink to allow the warmer air in your home to reach some of your pipes (Please note to only do this if it’s safe. Many homeowners keep these cabinets closed or locked to prevent animals or children from reaching cleaning chemicals or other dangerous home items!)
Inspect Your Sump Pump
If your home has a sump pump, it needs to stay functional to prevent an overflowing of water into your home. Winter snow melt will eventually lead to an excess of moisture finding its way into your home, so you’ll want your sump pump ready and able to push that water back out of your home.
One unique winter issue for sump pumps is the water in the pump basin freezing over. Keep an eye on your pump and look for issues that may indicate
sump pump failure
It’s not good when a boat is sinking. When you have that foreboding or sinking feeling, something’s not good. It’s also not good when the foundation of your home is sinking!
A foundation, by definition, is the basis or groundwork of anything. Whether it’s a skyscraper or math skills, if you don’t have a solid foundation, the rest will eventually crumble. Nothing, including your home, will last for long with a shoddy or damaged foundation. Additionally, even well-designed foundations are at risk if not cared for. Your home is only as sound as your foundation, so house foundation protection is one of the best investments you can possibly make. Here are some tips on protecting your home’s foundation.
Who doesn’t love the feeling of accomplishment? The pride, money savings and bragging rights at the completion of a successful DIY project are just a few of the reasons Americans just love to “do it themselves.” However, not every job around the house – or under it – is best tackled by a fix-it minded homeowner. Is DIY foundation repair right for you?
Just like there’s a difference between installing a new light fixture and rewiring an entire home, sealing a hairline crack and waterproofing the exterior of a home’s foundation are quite different tasks to undertake. Know your limits and trust your gut (or your spouse’s gut!) Don’t put your health or your property at risk.
Foundation wall failure typically happens slowly over time, and there are signs that you can see. But only if you know what to look for! Learn how to spot the signs and identify what’s going wrong with your wall before it fails completely.
How Do You Know If Your Foundation Wall is Leaning, Bowed or Bulging?
Fortunately, there are several indicators that can help you identify when your basement foundation wall is compromised. When looking for structural issues, they can present themselves differently depending on the type of inward movement your walls are experiencing.
Here are some of the most common signs of problems with your basement foundation wall:
- Cracks in your walls more than 1/8 inch wide
- Angled cracks from the corners of the wall or across the center
- Unleveled flooring
- Water seepage
- Walls sliding inward at the bottom or leaning in at the top
Distinguishing Between Types of Basement Foundation Inward Movement
Not all foundation damage is the same. If you think you’ve identified the early signs of failure, it can help to distinguish between leaning walls or bulging walls. The difference may not seem important, but it can help with locating the source of the problem and deciding on a solution.
Bulging walls often have horizontal cracks, as the pressure is closer to the center of the wall and will cause it to fold in from the center. You can measure for a bulged wall by using a plumb string attached to the ceiling and measuring the distance of the wall, bottom to top. If the wall measures longer than the plumb line, it indicates a failing wall that is likely to be bulging.
Leaning foundation walls will angle slightly. Most homeowners expect leaning walls to lean in from the top. In some cases, the inward movement comes from the bottom instead. Make sure to look for both.
What Can Cause a Foundation Wall to Fail?
Inadequate drainage is one of the most common ways that foundations suffer damage. As moisture drains into the foundation, it builds up against the side of your home and can cause soil heaving. Hydrostatic pressure is also a typical cause of water leaking into your basement.
You can prevent drainage problems from occurring. In addition to ensuring your home’s grading provides moisture with a path away from your foundation, gutters and spouts that direct water far away from your foundation is important.
If your gutters are damaged or clogged