Yard Drainage and Your Basement

yard drainage contractors

Yard Drainage Can Help Keep Water Out of Your Basement

Over flowing gutters, downspouts that dump water next to the foundation, back pitched grading and low spots in the yard can cause storm water to enter your basement or crawlspace. In extreme circumstances, this excess water can also cause severe structural damage to your home’s foundation.

Foundations in the Chicagoland and Southern Wisconsin areas are installed to a minimum depth of forty-two inches for slab on grade and crawlspaces for protection from frost heaving; for basements they can be installed to a depth of eight feet or more. In order to install foundations this deep, a hole is dug approximately 3-5 feet wider than the foot print of the foundation. This extra excavation is called the over-dig and gives the foundation crews the room to build the foundation footings and walls.

The over-dig area is backfilled with soil once the foundation walls are complete. This area of backfill is much less dense than the soil that was not excavated. This creates an earthen funnel around the entire foundation that can direct water back to the foundations walls causing leaks from foundation cracks and other problems.

Yard Drainage Can Help Prevent Wet Basements

Gutter overflowThe best way to get storm water away from your home is with clean gutters, downspouts that are extended underground at least ten feet away from the foundation and to make sure grading is positively pitched away from your home. Sump pump discharges should also be directed underground at least ten feet away from the foundation, so the water does not recirculate back to the sump pump basin.

In some cases, these items are not enough or cannot be done due to the configuration of the yard. In these cases, rather than rely on grading, you need to utilize a yard drainage system that collects the water and takes it away from your home.

Yard drainage is just a fancy term for collecting storm water and relocating it via an underground piping system. Ideally this system discharges the water into a storm sewer, if it exists, to take the water completely off your property.

A well-designed yard drainage system can collect water from downspouts, planting beds, driveways and low spots in your lawn and move the water away from the over-dig. This is done through underground PVC pipe to minimize the possibility of storm water entering your basement or crawlspace causing damage to your home and personal belongings.

If you have pooling water in your yard, downspouts that dump water next to your foundation or back pitched grading, contact Midwest Waterproofing for a free consultation. Our staff has years of experience solving all types of yard drainage issues and will help design a cost-effective solution to your yard drainage problem.

What is an Exterior Waterproofing Membrane?

Foundation waterproofing

Water coming over the top of the foundation, through a masonry foundation wall (brick, stone or concrete block), through a porous concrete foundation or if your basement is nicely finished are all reasons an exterior waterproofing membrane may be the best solution to keep your basement dry as crack injections are not applicable in these cases.

An exterior waterproofing membrane is a coating that is applied to the exterior of the foundation. It is intended to stop water before it has a chance to pass over or through the foundation wall. This eliminates the damage the water can cause to the foundation wall itself as well as other components of the building or personal belongings if your basement or crawlspace is finished or used for storage.

How is an Exterior Waterproofing Membrane Installed?

Installation of an exterior waterproofing membrane is relatively straightforward once the problem is properly diagnosed. If the issue is water coming over the top of the foundation, minimal excavation is required, the membrane only needs to be applied to six inches below the top of the foundation. If the problem is water passing through a masonry foundation wall or porous concrete wall, full excavation to the footing depth is typically required.

The process to install an exterior waterproofing membrane includes:

  • Removal of any obstructions such as decks, pavers, plantings, sidewalks, patios and driveways.
  • Excavating the foundation wall to below the problem area.
  • Cleaning the foundation wall and repairing any obvious defects.
  • Installing the waterproofing membrane, we prefer a thick liquid, trowel applied version. This material needs to cure which, depending on weather can take a few hours or a few days.
  • Installing a drainage board which acts as a secondary waterproofing barrier but more importantly protects the exterior waterproofing membrane from damage when the excavation is backfilled.
  • In the case of severely saturated soil outside a foundation wall, an exterior drain tile system would be installed at the depth of the footing to carry the additional water away to a sump pump system or to daylight via gravity.
  • The trench is backfilled with the excavated material in compacted twelve-inch lifts. Once this is completed, final landscaping can be completed. Minor settlement of the excavation is to be expected.

If you have water coming over the top of your foundation or through your foundation walls, contact Midwest Waterproofing for a free consultation. Our staff can help determine where the water is coming from and which exterior waterproofing membrane application is right for your situation.

Concrete Foundation Wall Cracks and How to Repair Them

Foundation Crack

Poured foundation foundations are one of the most common and durable types of foundations used to support buildings. They are used because they are durable, easy to construct and take less time to build than a masonry foundation wall. While a poured concrete foundation is very strong and durable, it can have many issues as well. The most common issue is with cracks that can leak water into a crawlspace or basement.

These cracks can occur due to conditions when the concrete is poured, soil conditions around the foundation as well the shape of the foundation itself. Typical foundation cracks, under 1/8” in thickness are expected, considered normal and not a major cause for structural repair. They can, however, be a source for water intrusion into the basement or crawlspace and should be fixed, whether actively leaking or not. It is our experience that an existing foundation crack will eventually leak at some point.

Diagnosing foundation cracks is pretty straightforward. In the case of an unfinished basement or crawlspace, they are easily seen because the foundation wall is exposed. In the case of a finished basement, cracks can be identified by finding the first point of entry into the basement and looking at the exterior of the building. Foundation cracks are predictable in that they almost always follow a relatively vertical path from the bottom of the foundation wall to the top and can be seen from the exterior where the foundation wall is visible above grade.

How to Repair Concrete Foundation Wall Cracks

If the basement or crawlspace foundation walls are accessible, a urethane crack injection is the preferred method of repair due to its high success rate and relatively low cost. Another advantage of the urethane material is that is expands to fill the entire crack, effectively stopping the water on the exterior of the building. Urethane crack repairs, once cured, remain slightly flexible as well so seasonal movement of the foundation wall caused by expanding soil conditions and frost do not compromise the repair.

If the basement space is finished, an exterior option may be preferred if you do not want to cut open the wall to expose the crack or if mechanical equipment like furnaces and water heaters are in the way. There are two typical options for exterior crack repair, a waterproof membrane or a sodium bentonite clay application. Both work exceptionally well, which one is best for you situation depends on a few factors.

Our staff, with their years of experience, can help determine which crack repair method is right for your situation. If you think you have a foundation crack, contact Midwest Waterproofing for a free consultation.