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The High and Dry Blog

Toronto’s structural clarity in a sea of confusion.

Water in your Basement? Now What?

As the snow melts and the rain arrives, Toronto is being faced with water, water, and more water! This winter was brutal, with plenty of falling and rising temperatures. This kind of weather can cause basement foundations to expand and condense leading to cracks. These cracks can allow water to pass through the foundation wall. This can lead to water pooling in your basement which can mean big trouble!

But the big question is, what are you supposed to do if your basement is leaking?!

Why is my Basement Leaking?

The first step when you discover that your basement is leaking is to find out why it is leaking. This will help you determine how to approach the repair of the leak.

As time goes on, concrete structures begin to age. Especially when they are built in a climate that features plenty of fluctuation in weather (i.e. Canada). Even though concrete is very sturdy, this also means that it is not flexible. This means that concrete can start to settle and move which can result in foundation walls and structure fracturing or cracking.

Over 85% of homes that are built in Canada do not have any sort of rubberized membrane on their foundation walls. This means that the bare concrete of these foundations is being exposed to the elements every single day. Even if your home has a functioning weeping tile system installed, this will not be able to keep your home safe from cracking when the foundation moves and settles. You will always need a rubberized membrane in order to keep your basement and home permanently protected.

There is a lot of information out there and this is why it is important to separate the facts from the sales pitches. Every contractor will have their own way of repairing a leaking basement that is caused by a cracked foundation, but there are proper steps to take regardless of opinion. If your foundation is a poured concrete foundation, the crack repair must be completed from the exterior of the foundation wall. Other contractors may talk about crack injections, custom proprietary interior “trough systems”, foam gravel beds, and more. These methods still allow water to penetrate the crack and they will quickly break down and fail which isn’t really a repair at all. In order to avoid “patchwork”, the concrete foundation wall needs to be repaired from the outside.

How Can I Fix My Basement Leak?

Once you determine why your basement is leaking, the next step is to determine how you can fix your basement leak.

Cracks typically start on the outside of the foundation wall. An expert crew of foundation repair specialists will expose the area to properly assess the damage before they repair the area. The first step is to figure out where below-grade utilities like gas lines, hydro services and telephone/data lines are located. The team will then mark these areas and begin excavated the ground by hand. It is important that the team chooses hand excavation because it will ensure that your property and all that surrounds it is not damaged. This means that obstacles such as air conditioning units, interlocking stone, patio stone, decking, asphalt or concrete walkways must be removed to access the intended repair area. After the area has been properly excavated, the team will look at the weeping tile. If it is not in perfect condition, we advise that you replace it.

The next step is to clean the foundation wall with a wire brush. This will allow the cracks to be dug out and repaired with hydraulic cement. This type of cement expands once dried resulting in a firm lock within the crack itself. The wall will then be primed and then coated with a layer of rubberized membrane. Then a layer of fiberglass mesh will be applied, followed by another layer of rubberized membrane, and finally a layer of thick plastic. The final step before backfilling is to install a layer of Platon drainage board. This will help keep the hydrostatic pressure levels low which will help large volumes of water to drain directly to the weeping tile system.

After the area has been backfilled and powertamped, a termination strip will be installed. This strip will be attached to the top of the Platon drainage board. Many other companies don’t wait to put the termination strip on until after they backfill. This can lead to separation between the drainage board and the termination strip. This means that rainwater can get behind the patch and this can upset above grade finish.

Will Waterproofing My Foundation Ruin My Curb Appeal?

Fixing your foundation is stressful enough, but add the element of not knowing how your home will look after? That’s a nightmare. We completely understand how much time you’ve put into making your home look perfect! That’s why we offer several different standard services to ensure your home stays as beautiful as you’ve made it!

Hand Excavation

Many companies choose to use heavy machinery to excavate foundations. This is because it makes the job a lot easier for the workers and therefore much faster, but at a cost. The downfall of heavy machinery is that it can cause a lot of damage to above ground landscaping and below ground services (hydro/gas/power/sprinklers/etc) while potentially putting extreme stresses on the foundation walls itself. This is why GJ MacRae chooses to always use hand excavation for residential repairs. Hand excavation allows for less destruction to the home and a better repair. Our process protects the esthetics of your home allowing interlocking stone, garden beds, and shrubbery to be reinstalled.

Tarp Service

Our team always places tarps on the property to keep the soil from ruining your lawn and interlocking. Once we can do with the foundation crack repair, we replace the dirt, and then we roll up the tarps and take them with us!

Once the foundation crack repair job has been completed, our team will break out the brooms and water and clean up the mess. All tarps will be collected, and the benefit of hand excavation will be revealed by the low impact effect on the site.

What time of year can this type of work be completed in?

Want to wait a while until you waterproof your basement? Although with an experienced crew exterior and interior foundation repair and waterproofing can be completed during any time of year, the process can be slower in the winter. If you want the process completed quickly, we suggest having your foundation repaired during the warmer months.

Why Choose GJ MacRae

There are plenty of foundation repair companies out there… so why should you hire the experts at GJ MacRae? GJ MacRae has been servicing the Greater Toronto Area for decades. Our family owned and operated business has a team of experts who always complete the job with professionalism and talent. We believe in them so much that we offer a 15-year transferable warranty with our foundation repair.

If you have a basement leak and you’re looking for a team of experts to get the job done right the first time, contact us today!