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Contractors Avoid Explosive Complaints With Low Pressure Crack Injections
These small cracks in basement walls and floors may seem superficial, but basement finishing and waterproofing contractors who ignore them are asking for trouble. In reality, concrete cracks can be portals for toxic gases and lead to slowly seeping moisture that causes mold, mildew and fungus. Finishing the basement before fixing the imperfections is like lighting the fuse on dynamite and then hoping it doesn’t explode.
Pre-finishing techniques such as low-pressure crevice injection have two essential functions. First, they save homeowners money because covering up problems with expensive renovations will only lead to more expensive problems down the road. Second, they ensure that pollutants such as radon gas and mold-causing moisture, which can cause chronic respiratory and other problems, do not seriously degrade indoor air quality.
“If you’ve already finished your basement, it’s too late. Cracks won’t go away, they’ll just get worse, no matter how harmless they may seem at first. More than 50 percent of the air you breathe into your home’s living space comes from the basement. If the problem was in the basement, now you have an air quality problem in your living space,” says Roy Spencer, owner of Perma-Seal Basement Systems in Downers Grove, Ill. Wall cracks leaking behind finished walls may not be detectable, but they can nevertheless create an atmosphere for mold growth (damp basement with more than 50% relative humidity).
Injection of concrete cracks under low pressure (20 to 40 psi) is an effective procedure for basement repair because it effectively leads to the monitoring of permanent filling of the entire length and depth of the crack. Epoxy and polyurethane-based grouting materials are best, as they adhere to the concrete and prevent further erosion due to moisture ingress. In addition, the material maintains a strong seal even as the concrete expands and contracts. This technique is only suitable for concrete walls.
Spencer says high-pressure injection is too powerful to effectively repair a residential basement. When used in basement crack repair, the higher pressure may cause uncontrolled crack filling. This technique is commonly used to repair thick cast-in-wall foundations used in large buildings and public works projects (such as hydroelectric dams) and to stop the flow of water before the repair is complete at low pressure.
Low-pressure crack injection has been an accepted technique throughout the Midwest for many years. But basement waterproofing contractors and foundation repair companies in other regions are now adopting this same technique because it’s cost-effective, reliable and durable.
The reason for this is that at pressures below 40 psi, the injection resin can rise within the crack only after it fills the crack from front to back and then rises to the position of the port attached above the port being injected. This way, the applicator can be sure that he has filled the crack up to the opening above the opening he is injecting. The applicator then repeats the process along the length of the crack, leading to a successful repair.
At pressures above 40 psi, the injection resin can overcome gravity and instead follow the path of least resistance, which is usually the front half of the crack. As a result, the material can reach the top opening without filling the crack and the applicator cannot detect this. The result is incomplete filling of the crack, which is the most common source of failed crack repair.
Most cracks occur within 30 days of the concrete being poured, regardless of whether or not there is a leak during that time. For many years, discussions about repairing basement cracks mostly focused on the walls, not the floor. However, over the years it has become clear that the cracks in the board are also an outlet for radon and moisture. Therefore, it is unwise to install tile or carpet before floor cracks have been repaired with a polyurea system, the material of choice for slab cracks. Spencer says contractors don’t seal the slab until water is already flooding the basement through floor cracks. Such a problem indicates the need for a drainage system under the foundation.
“About 95 percent of cracks in basement concrete do not pose a threat to the foundation, basement walls, or floor. Most wall cracks are just a water seepage problem. But they need to be repaired because the crack can still leak and affect indoor air quality.” If a leak gets caught in a finished wall or floor, it can cause a lot of damage before it’s discovered,” says Spencer. The secret to successful basement prefinishing is to repair cracks early in the finishing process. .
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