It may not feel like it at the time but when winter rages in Merrillville, IN 46410, spring isn’t far behind. At the close of February, helpful TV weather folks will remind residents of northwest Indiana that it’s the end of “meteorological winter.” More likely, it will be the end of March when the first signs of spring turn up and homeowners start thinking about spring chores.
In the Great Lakes region, spring is typically wet and with snowmelt, thawing soil and the usual spring rains, the season may bring basement leaks, even in homes where the basement has always been dry in the past. In order to avoid putting “mopping up the basement” at the top of the to-do list come spring, Merrillville homeowners can take some steps now that can prevent basement leaks or at least warn of the possibility.
Basement leaks can arise from a number of sources and there are two general ways to prevent them: eliminate common openings where the water can enter the basement and keep water away from the foundation.
Find and Repair Wall Cracks – One usual entrance point for basement seepage is a crack in the foundation wall. Regardless of the composition of the wall, these cracks generally result from over-saturated soil outside the foundation that swells and creates lateral pressure against the wall. In a poured concrete wall, these cracks are usually vertical or diagonal and less than 1/8-inch wide. In the more typical concrete block foundation found in all of northwest Indiana, the cracks will typically be in joints in the mortar that hold the blocks together.
If the basement is finished, it’s a little more difficult to spot cracks but there’s a way to find cracks from the exterior that saves tearing down drywall.
Once cracks have been located, the repair method depends on the construction of the foundation. With a poured concrete wall, cracks can be permanently repaired by injecting them from inside with expanding polyurethane that fills the cracks all the way to the outside soil and remains flexible so that minor foundation shifts won’t re-open the crack.
Cracks in concrete block walls can’t be injected so repairs are done from the exterior. One common method is to apply an exterior waterproofing membrane, a thick coating of asphalt-modified polyurethane that creates an impermeable “positive-side” barrier to seepage through the foundation.
Manage Water Around the Exterior of the Foundation – One truism about basement leaks is that if there’s no water in the soil around the foundation, there’ll be no water in the basement. Merrillville homeowners can’t do much about the high water table that is found in most of northwest Indiana but preventing the soil around the foundation from becoming over-saturated is not hard to do.
Proper yard drainage can be accomplished by keeping an eye on four things: gutters, downspouts, landscaping and grading. It’s pretty standard home maintenance to keep rain gutters clean and flowing freely but it can have a huge impact on basement leaks if gutters are clogged and allow water to run off the roof and be absorbed by soil around the foundation. It follows logically that downspouts that are dumping water next to the foundation will also contribute to basement leaks in Merrillville, so downspouts should be extended at least ten feet away from the house, past the “zone of failure.”
Landscaping issues can also result in basement leaks, particularly when plantings or landscape edging create “dams” that keep water near the foundation where it can be absorbed instead of allowing it to run off. Even worse are problems in the grade of the property surrounding the house. A negative slope, that is, a grade that forces water to run toward the house instead of away from it, can easily create saturated soil around the foundation and lead to cracks and seepage.
So, what’s the Merrillville homeowner to do to prevent basement leaks this spring? Look for signs of seepage in the basement, check for cracks, brave the cold and take a look at the gutters and downspouts. Better yet, ask for a free consultation from the experts at U.S. Waterproofing who have been preventing and repairing basement leaks in Merrillville and the rest of northwest Indiana for decades.
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