Best Foundation Crack Repair Method: Low Pressure Injection vs. Drain Tile Installation

Basement water leakage occurs when the foundation walls have cracks and there is sufficient hydrostatic pressure in the surrounding ground to affect leakage, and/or when the water table is exerting sufficient hydrostatic pressure to leak through cracks in the basement slab or the seam formed by the walls and the basement slab.

Low-pressure crack injection (with either injection epoxies, polyurethane foams, or polyurethane grouts) is the best and most economical method for repair of a leaking crack on the wall of a poured foundation.

It is the best approach because crack injection prevents water from passing through the leaking cracked wall and entering into the basement. Extra humidity is prevented and there is little chance of mold and mildew forming on the wall. It is the most economical because the repair costs only hundreds of dollars versus the thousands of dollars a drain tile system could cost.

The structural repair of cracks in poured concrete structures (such as bridges, columns, and roads) with epoxy injection has been a successful common practice in concrete repair for over 40 years. Initially, in the Midwest, this practice was extended to include repair of poured wall basement foundations whether they were structural in nature or just to repair a leaking crack. The use of polyurethane foams or grouts have joined injection epoxies as products of choice in repairing leaking poured wall foundations.

In other parts of the country, concrete block was the more common material used in basement foundations. Leaking cracks could only be dealt with by incorporating some form of an internal drain tile system or above the slab base-board approach. They continue to be the best methods for concrete block leaking repair.

Today, however, most parts of the country have an increasing percentage of homes built on poured wall foundations. Many local waterproofing contractors in these areas still recommend basement wall repair using the same expensive methods they learned to use in concrete block repair. In spite of what many waterproofing contractors may say, crack injection does work and it involves a less intrusive approach to your basement’s leak repair and to your wallet.

Drainage tile repair of a poured wall foundation involves diverting the water after it has already entered the basement. Humidity increase and mold and mildew are likely to occur. The repair costs thousands, not hundreds of dollars, and typically involves breaking up the basement slab and takes days to complete rather than two hours or less for the crack injection method. Drain tile repair should only be the preferred approach when the leak is coming from the seam of the poured wall foundation or cracks in the slab (not the walls).

Both methods of repair (drain tile for block foundations and crack injection for poured walls) work when the foundation is not experiencing instability exceeding the strength of the concrete. If such excessive instability exists, wall reinforcement and ground stabilization with carbon fiber and/or peering are best done in conjunction with the above mentioned methods. Drain tile repair should not be considered as lone alternative to deal with structural instability. It is strongly recommended that a home-owner seek another opinion if low-pressure crack injection repair of a poured wall foundation leak is not offered as a viable solution.

Determining whether excessive instability exists requires a skilled and experienced applicator. For poured wall foundation repair, we recommend contacting a qualified applicator in your geographical area with the experience and knowledge to define the problem and the solution.

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