Foundation leak repair: How to detect and repair foundation leaks

Foundation leaks can be difficult to detect and expensive to repair, especially if your foundation cracks...

Foundation leaks can be difficult to detect and expensive to repair, especially if your foundation cracks were not spotted right away and have been allowed to spread.

Why does the foundation crack?

Foundation leak repair is a serious issue. Typically the result of shrinkage through drying and thermal movement, concrete foundation cracks are often minor. The leak can also be caused by the ground around the foundation resettling. This problem is common in Atlanta due to high humidity, soft soil and frequent rain storms. While the cracks are often minor, if allowed to spread over time, seepage and loss of structural integrity may occur. If you have a poured foundation, these cracks can be fixed with relative ease. Low-pressure epoxy or polyurethane foam injection can repair cracks like these. Slab or concrete foundations can be repaired with epoxies and polyurea.

In some cases, cracks are even caused by plumbing leaks under or near your foundation wall.

You can apply remedies yourself, or contract a basement waterproofing contractor for help. The project will likely take around an hour.

Inspect the exterior of your foundation

You may also want to inspect the area outside your foundation. If your gutters are not in good repair, these will need to be fixed and routed away from the foundation. If you have a walkway or ground that slopes toward the foundation, correct it to slope away and allow runoff to flow away from the foundation. You may also consider planting groundcover near the foundation to slow the flow of any water that comes to the area.

If you have a brick or stone rubble foundation, you may also need to install weeping tiles to the foundation.

Before fixing leaks, prepare the area around your foundation wall to prevent future leaks

If you plan to make these fixes yourself, you will want to prepare a trench around the foundation wall. You may want to do this in sections, particularly if your home is older, so that your wall remains supported by the ground. Once you've dug a trench, shovel some of that dirt back against the wall to create a slope away from the foundation.

Next, place plastic sheeting over the slope and attach it to the wall. Cover that with clay-rich soil (an easy find in Atlanta) for the best results. The clay-rich soil will help prevent water from reaching the foundation wall.

Time to fix the cracks

Once you've prepared the area around your foundation, you will want to fix the leaks.

Search for the cracks in your foundation if you haven't already. Use an air pump and wire brush to clean debris out of the cracks. If they are not cleaned, the cracks will not hold the epoxy or filling as well. The size of your cracks will determine what type of filler you use to mend them.

Epoxy resin is used in small cracks, while concrete is used in larger cracks. Simply follow the manufacturer's instructions for mixing, fill the cracks, and then let them dry.

If you determine the cracks are too much for you to handle as a do-it-yourselfer, do not despair. Preparing the exterior of your foundation will help reduce future damage regardless.

Calling in the pros

If the cracks you find are major, call in a local professional. Structural integrity may be affected. Also, if the soil near your foundation has high water content, you may need to dig out around the foundation and insulate to more effectively keep water from your foundation wall.

Once you or a professional repair the foundation, you'll want to inspect the walls of the basement or ground level of your home routinely for leaks and cracks. If you catch small cracks early and repair them with a simple epoxy kit, you can take care of your problem before having to call in a professional and before your foundation's structural integrity is affected.

If your home has a basement or unfinished ground floor, you may also want to install a sump pump to take care of the water from any future leaks. If you have a finished ground level of your home, you may want to consider professional foundation waterproofing in order to prevent future leaks and water in your living area.

If you still have leaking issues after solving groundwater seepage problems, consider whether you have plumbing leaks near the foundation of your home. For more information on whether your home needs foundation leak repair, contact an Atlanta area plumbing professional today.

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