Maximizing Foundation Crack Repair Effectiveness With Low Pressure Injection
By Louis Cole
Throughout the United States and Canada, the number of homes built on poured foundations has significantly increased. Unfortunately, like concrete block, poured foundations are prone to cracking. Traditionally, the installation of a drain tile system was the waterproofing industry's solution to leaking cracks. As basement waterproofing contractors have encountered a larger amount of poured foundation cracks throughout the years, they have come to appreciate the benefits of using the alternative low-pressure injection system.
The use of epoxy with high-pressure injection has been used since the 1960's for poured structures including dams, bridges and highways. This method was eventually adapted for basements via low-pressure injection of either epoxy or polyurethane foam, with use of a manual dispensing tool. Crack injection provides homeowners the opportunity to properly address leaking and structural foundation cracks for thousands of dollars less, as opposed to installing drain tile.
While the installation of drain tile effectively diverts leaking water and prevents it from building on the floor, the process itself is not the most practical solution. Preparation prior to installing drain tile can pose quite a burden to the homeowner, while the installation process itself can be quite extensive. The final cost usually turns out to be very expensive.
Despite the growing number of waterproofers who have embraced the crack injection process, there are still a few who remain skeptical or are unwilling to consider crack injection as a viable option. While drain tile successfully diverts water from flooding the basement floor, the fact remains that drain tile still allows water into the basement while crack injection does not. When water is allowed to seep into the basement, the indoor air quality is likely to be affected.
Seeping water increases moisture, leading to mold growth, while the continued exposure of the initial crack allows soil gases (including radon gas) to enter the basement. In addition, if the drain tile is an open system, a small gap exists around the cove (where the wall meets the floor) which also allows such gasses another entry to the basement. Over 50 percent of the air breathed throughout the home has circulated from the basement and/or crawl space. Exposure to such gases, mold and mildew can impact the health of the home's occupants, including but not limited to the triggering of symptoms related to allergies and asthma.
Another disadvantage with drain tile is that it does not properly address structural foundation cracks. When concerning cracks that are structural related, the injection of epoxy or specially formulated polyurethane foam in-conjunction with carbon fiber staples will properly repair such a crack. The use of staples adds further assurance that added stress to the foundation will be diverted from the repaired area, providing for a permanent solution to the initial crack.
Unfortunately, crack injection is only viable for poured foundations. For cracked concrete block water leaks, the only options are either complete exterior excavation the installation of drain tile.
When concerning drainage systems and indoor air quality, waterproofers should consider closed systems. A closed drainage system will still properly divert leaking water from the basement floor, while preventing soil gases, including radon gas, from entering through the basement through the cove.
For poured foundation crack repair, the decision between drain tile installation and crack injection should come to economics - one allocating his or her limited resources to their best use. Crack injection allows the contractor to apply his limited time and costs to a more efficient outcome, enabling him to offer his services at a far more competitive price. Crack injection provides a "win-win" for both the waterproofer and his customers.
Lou Cole is the president and owner of Emecole, Inc., a manufacturer of concrete crack repair epoxies and polyurethane foams since 1987. Today, Emecole is a leading supplier of basement waterproofing and indoor air quality control products through the United States and Canada. For more information, visit http://www.emecole.com or write to 50 E. Montrose Dr. P.O. Box 7486, Romeoville, IL 60446.