There is no time like the present to take care of those concrete cracks
While concrete cracks appear to be typical, don’t ignore them until disaster strikes. Neglecting that crack until it does something can lead to ruined drywall, carpet and flooring in the basement. Most homeowners best identify concrete cracks in their basement, either on the foundation wall or on the floor. You may also find cracks on the garage floor, patio or in-ground pool.
These cracks typically due to drying shrinkage, thermal movement or other causes usually are minor and result in few problems. More often than not, a foundation crack will widen over time and result in water seepage or possibly the loss of structural integrity. Foundation and slab cracks are not only an eyesore, but they may hinder the value of the home.
There is no time like the present to take care of the crack in your foundation. Spring rain and summer thunderstorms will continue to cause pressure on a foundation crack, create basement moisture and will inevitably leak into your basement.
Fortunately, there is an easy way to permanently repair such cracks without the need for costly and disruptive excavation or drain tile. Poured foundation cracks may be repaired by using low-pressure injection of an epoxy or polyurethane foam material. For the repair of concrete floor cracks, certain epoxies and polyurea materials exists, suitable for such slab repairs.
Depending on the severity, your concrete cracks can be repaired waterproofing and stabilization contractor or yourself, the do-it-yourself homeowner. Either way, the repair of concrete cracks in either the foundation or the slab may efficiently and effectively be completed in as little as an hour or more.
Typical Sources of Basement Leaks
How to Repair Concrete Cracks
Most basements eventually leak. Even if a crack is not leaking now, eventually water will find it. Crack injection is an accepted way of tackling these repairs. More and more specialty contractors are adopting the technique because it is cost-effective, reliable, and permanent.
For basement walls, low-pressure injection is the best way to ensure that the crack is completely filled. This method is effective for filling cracks 0.002 to 1 inch wide in walls up to 12 inches thick. It can also be used to fill cracks in concrete floors and ceilings.
Here are the basic steps for successful low-pressure crack injection. Keep in mind, however, that the type of epoxy or polyurethane used and the time required for injection will vary with each job depending on the crack width, wall thickness, and other conditions. These can also be bought as as crack repair kits that come with all the tools and supplies needed for the project.
Install injection ports: Surface Ports (short rigid-plastic tubes with a flat base) serve as handy entryways for getting the repair material into the crack. They eliminate the need to drill into the concrete, reducing labor time and cleanup. The base of the port is placed directly over the crack and bonded to the surface with an epoxy paste. A general rule-of-thumb is to space the ports an inch apart for each inch of wall thickness.
Seal the surface: Use an epoxy adhesive to seal over the surface ports and exposed cracks. The paste cures in about 20 to 45 minutes to provide a surface seal with excellent bond characteristics that holds up under injection pressures. The entire exposed crack is covered with the paste, leaving only the port holes uncovered.
Inject the crack: Begin injecting at the lowest port on the wall and continue until the epoxy or urethane begins to ooze out of the port above it. That’s the visual sign that the crack has been filled to that level. Plug the first port with the cap provided and move up to the next port, repeating this procedure until the entire crack has been filled with epoxy or urethane. Let the compression spring on the dispensing tool push the material into the crack using slow, constant pressure. This will reduce the possibility of leaks or blow-outs and allow time for the repair material to fully penetrate the crack.
Remove the ports: Allow 24 to 48 hours at room temperature for the epoxy or polyurethane to cure and penetrate into the cracks. The injection ports can then be removed by striking them with a trowel or hammer. If appearance is an issue, the epoxy surface seal can be chipped away or ground off with a sanding disk. Another option is to use a surface seal that can simply be peeled off the wall after the repair is fully cured.
There are many ways water can enter your basement and/or penetrate your foundation. The waterproofing repair method chosen must address the precise cause of the basement leak. Without visual confirmation of the actual problem, or without absolute confirmation of the source of the leak using diagnostic equipment, many homeowners pay for basement waterproofing work far in excess of what is actually required, including waterproofing work performed in the wrong location, or basement leak repairs that are not needed because the source of the basement leak is not attributable to a problem with the foundation at all.