Which waterproofing method to choose to fix concrete foundation leaks

Posted by Luc Gerber on Sat, Jan 24, 2015 @ 01:12 PM

Should you choose epoxy or polyurethane injection over other basement waterproofing repair methods?

Homeowners often wonder if it is wise to repair basement foundation leaks using the newer technology of injection instead of traditional waterproofing involving excavation and other available basement leak repair methods. In this post we cover the following topics:

  1. The use of injection in basement waterproofing applications
  2. Injection in commercial waterstopping applications
  3. Epoxy crack injection
  4. Polyurethane injection
  5. Other available waterproofing repair methods:

Do any of these images look familiar?
Leaking foundation crack with staining of wall Leaking honeycombing that was patched by the builder Leaking tie rod holes that caused rot of vapor barrier
Basement wall crack with efflorescence Honeycombing with concrete patch Leaking tie-rod holes with sediment stains

The use of injection in basement waterproofing applications

Pressurized injection is used exclusively for poured concrete foundations and structures. Pressurized injection involves either epoxy or polyurethane resin and is used for the repair and waterproofing of cracks, holes, or cavities in foundation walls, from inside the home almost exclusively. It is a very common repair method for poured concrete waterproofing and is the least costly method of repairing active leaks and/or preventing potential leaks in poured concrete foundation walls. A professional injection will keep water from entering your basement, reduce basement dampness, and prevent moisture from permeating and damaging the poured concrete foundation walls.

Pressurized injection especially, is a waterproofing method that requires technicians to possess considerable skill, experience and tenacity. Waterproofing Contractors that do not offer pressurized injection services inevitably have realized that their organization does not possess the requisite expertise to provide reliable, long lasting injections, hence they purposely limit the waterproofing repair options they make available to you. If you are told that injection is a "bandaid" solution then you can be sure that the contractor that states this does not offer foundation crack injection services.

Injection is widely used in commercial waterstopping applications

Pressurized injection is commonly used for water-stopping in mines and subway tunnels, to seal joints between sections of concrete sewer pipe and in underground parking garages. Injection repairs are capable of withstanding extremely high levels of hydrostatic pressure which is certainly higher than the pressure around most residential foundations.

Epoxy concrete crack injection

Epoxy crack injection involves filling a crack with epoxy, a two component chemical blend (epoxy and hardener) that binds or welds two walls together and sets as a hard plastic; in the concrete industry epoxy injection is considered to be a structural repair. Read more

Epoxy crack injection Closeup of low pressure epoxy crack injection
Epoxy crack injection near the top of the crack Dispensing tool injecting epoxy resin at low pressure


Polyurethane injection

Polyurethane injection is different from epoxy injection in that polyurethane resin expands with considerable force and seals cavities and cracks by completely filling the opening / void that is letting water enter into your basement. Polyurethane crack repair is arguably the most common injection method worldwide. Read more

 

 Typical polyurethane injection applications for concrete foundation leaks
Crack with paste and injection packers installed Polyurethane resin expanding through a foundation wall crack Polyurethane injection of a tie rod hole
 Crack ready for injection  Polyurethane travels through walls  Tie-rod cavity injected with polyurethane

 


Note:
Each type of injection has distinct technical characteristics and limitations; consequently, one size does not fit all. Rely on our technicians to determine the type of injection most suited to your particular situation. Both methods are tried and true waterproofing techniques that will solve your problem once and for all. Read more

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Other available waterproofing repair methods:

Excavation and Waterproofing

Traditionally, waterproofing poured concrete foundations involved the external excavation of the foundation, with the application of a concrete patch over a crack, tie-rod hole, or honeycombing in the foundation to prevent water penetration. As these patches frequently detach themselves from the wall due to incorrect application, the absence of a good chemical bond, and / or the natural thermal cycling that occurs on the outside of the foundation, these patch repairs eventually fail.

Only the application of an elastomeric rubber coating, or similar waterproofing material, on the outer surface of the foundation wall will reliably waterproof a foundation wall; however, excavation and waterproofing is, by far, the most expensive way to waterproof a poured concrete foundation. Furthermore, it is inherently destructive insofar as your landscaping is concerned. Read more

Interior Perimeter Weeping Tile Installation

Another available "broad brush" waterproofing method is installation of a perimeter drain tile  or weeping tile system beneath the basement floor that captures the water that continues to leak into the basement; this method requires the use of a sump pump to mechanically pump the water to the outside. While this basement waterproofing works very well for concrete block foundations, AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing® does not recommend this type of basement waterproofing for poured concrete foundations because water continues to enter the basement. The continuous wetting of the concrete within and around cracks and other openings will result in absorption of water and ultimately the saturation of the concrete which will weaken the concrete over time. Unlike stone, concrete is a porous material that readily absorbs water.

Preventing Cracks From Leaking Without Repairing Them

Yet another technique, specific to crack repair, involves the application of a rubber membrane over the leaking crack on the inside of the wall. The membrane prevents water from pooling on the basement floor as the water drains into the gravel under the basement floor slab; consequently, water continues to enter your basement and the concrete surrounding the crack if usually saturated.

The ongoing saturation of concrete will weaken the concrete over time; to the point of crumbling. If the amount of water channelled beneath the floor slab is great and there is significant hydrostatic pressure beneath the floor slab, water will enter the basement through floor cracks or through the seam between the floor slab and the wall. Read more

Basement Crack Repair Using Hydraulic Cement

Homeowners, new home builders and contractors seeking a quick fix, an inexpensive fix, or a low repair cost will often use hydraulic cement on the interior of the wall to stop a leak. Such surface repairs may stop leaks in the short term, but these repairs will cause water to be trapped within the wall; consequently, the concrete behind the repair becomes saturated with water, a condition which will lead to an accelerated deterioration of the surrounding concrete; furthermore, these types of repairs typically do not last.

Example of a failed concrete crack repair using hydraulic cement
 Failed crack repair using hydraulic cement
This crack repair didn't stand the test of time and ultimately had to be injected with polyurethane

 

The alternatives to pressurized injection for concrete crack repairs are quite destructive and are certainly far more expensive than pressurized injection.

Tip graphicCrack injection is a specialization that requires technicians to have considerable skill, experience and tenacity. Waterproofing contractors that do not offer pressurized injection services likely recognize that their staff do not possess the requisite expertise to provide reliable, long lasting injections; hence the basement waterproofing methods offered to you are limited. This situation makes choosing a waterproofing contractor, on the basis of pricing alone or with limited repair options for you, a very risky proposition. For an injection to work 100% and endure the test of time it must be done properly; this is very much dependent on the skill and tenacity of the technician doing the work. It is likely impossible for you to establish whether the technician sent to your home has the requisite experience and training. If your first impression of a waterproofing contractor is less than ideal, go with your instincts; this will at least minimize the risk to you of having to call for warranty repairs at a later date and/or having to deal with poor customer service.

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