Concrete masonry units or “block,” has been in use for a long while. It became a popular material for the construction of residential homes in the 1900s because of its strength, modular design and speed of installation. Before concrete block was used, there was a small period of time that clay building blocks were being used. Masons quickly realized that concrete block was a superior product and it became the standard for foundation material.
The problem with concrete block
A foundation built with concrete block offers a home one of the most stable foundations available. However, it can be easily penetrated by pressure of the water and soil that surrounds it if a waterproofing isn’t properly protecting it. The pressure exerted on the walls of the foundation results in the deterioration of the mortar used to join the blocks of the foundation. Water is therefore able to find it’s way into the cracks, voids, and joints that have deteriorated over time. Concrete itself isn’t waterproof and will absorb water like a sponge if the hydrostatic pressure builds on a foundation wall. There are some instances where the pressure on the wall from the soil and water is so great that it causes the concrete block wall start to buckle. Also, if the saturated soil freezes in the winter, it expands and can also exert a tremendous amount of pressure on the wall also causing it to become bowed. In Northeast Ohio, our frost line is about 3 feet, meaning the frost will go 3 feet into the ground. This 3 feet down is also where the walls of a failing waterproofing system will crack and bow. If this problem is not corrected in good time, it can cause major structural issues.
What to do to prevent water issues?
It is important to ensure that a concrete block foundation has adequate waterproofing system during the construction of your foundation. If you are experiencing waterproofing problems with your home’s foundation, there are a few options to repair it.
This involves applying a waterproofing system on the exterior of the foundation. This approach involves little destruction of the interior of the home and is mostly done from the outside. This is usually the more expensive approach, but is the best in the long run to protect the structural integrity of your home.
The basement waterproofing contractor excavates the exterior of the foundation wall all the way down to below the top of the footer. All the excavated impermeable soil is removed and disposed of. The wall is coated with a dampproofing or waterproofing membrane. Drain Tile are installed to carry the water away. Along with the drain tile, cleanouts are installed so the drain tile can be cleaned and inspected. The excavated area is filled with number 57 stone which allows the water to drain to the drain tile eliminating and hydrostatic pressure. Usually the gravel is placed all the way up to within a foot of finished grade. Topsoil is then put on top to allow for landscaping unless it’s not desired. A simple, yet highly effective system.
This method of waterproofing aims to stop the water from the inside. The work is done from the inside of the home and is usually not a good option for finished basements. It involves the installation of an interior drain tile that directs the water along the drainage system installed below the floor and drained into a collection well. A sump pump then pumps the water out. The bottom row of blocks in the basement is drilled forming weep holes that allow water to drain out and into the drainage system.
Although this system is much cheaper to install than the exterior system, it’s really not fixing the problem, just hiding it. The water and hydrostatic pressure is still on the exterior of the wall deteriorating it. Also, structural damage can still happen to the wall as the impermeable saturated soil is still up against the exterior of the wall putting pressure on it. Last but not least, homes that didn’t previously have a sump pump now have a sump pump to deal with. Those of you who have never had a sump pump in there basement, I can assure you that you don’t want one. If the power goes out, which is common in a heavy storm, your basement will flood. Battery backup sump pumps are made to remedy this, but I’ve seen them fail or not be able to keep up with the water many times as they don’t have the capacity of a regular electric sump pump. Also, sump pumps fail, and when they fail, it’s usually at the most undesirable time.
Combination Exterior/Interior method
This method has been developed by one of the big waterproofing companies in the State of Ohio. I wrote another blog about this method and the others. Generally this method is a glorified interior method at the full cost of a quality exterior method. I’m not going to say much about this method as, in my opinion, is not anything better than the interior method.
If you would like an estimate, second opinion or general information about basement waterproofing in Chardon, Ohio, or the surrounding areas of Northeast Ohio, please contact DiFranco Contractors Inc at 440-946-2029.