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Basement Waterproofing & Foundation Repair in Detroit, MI

Detroit’s humid climate spells trouble for homeowners due to soil expansion and shrinkage. This can cause old and new houses alike to suffer from many foundation problems, such as settling, leaking, wall cracks, and warped window frames.

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Basement Waterproofing and Crawl Space Encapsulation Repair in Detroit Ann-Harbor, MI

Detroit area homeowners are no stranger to basement and crawl space leaking issues. It’s pretty easy to tell when you have a water-damaged basement or crawl space, especially when the pests have made a home of your foundation and the humidity can be felt upstairs. If you’re a homeowner who can no longer stand the flooding in the lower level of your home, it’s time to look at waterproofing solutions.

Waterproofing your basement or crawl space has many benefits. For one, it can drive the property value of your home up by a significant amount. It also saves you the headache of having to clean your basement or repair any machinery that was damaged due to leaking. The wood that supports your house is saved from rotting away due to fungal infections, and there shouldn’t be mold to worry about if there’s no moisture encouraging its growth. All in all, waterproofing improves the way you’re able to live in your own home.

To truly enjoy the benefits of a waterproofed basement or crawl space, it’s important that you use all the waterproofing solutions offered to you by your basement experts. This includes vapor barriers for encapsulation, interior drains and sump pumps for drainage, and dehumidifiers to keep the humidity levels low.

Foundation Repair in Detroit Ann-Harbor, MI

Crawl Space Support Posts

Foundation problems are a bit more difficult to detect than basement problems. This is because foundation problems tend to be slow acting in comparison to basement leaking. A leak in a basement is easy to spot, but you might not even notice the cracks on your concrete wall until they become more significant. Even if you don’t see any problem signs, the way the region is set up makes it so hydrostatic pressure is a common problem for homes in the Detroit area.

The majority of the Detroit area soil is clay, so water is absorbed making it very heavy. Additionally, basements and crawl spaces all over the area are just a few feet away from the zone of saturation, so water is able to accumulate extremely quickly, especially during the start of spring when all the snow melts away. The existence of hydrostatic pressure against your foundation walls may not be noticed until it is too late and problem signs begin to pop up all over your house.

At the very least, crawl space supports and wall anchors should be installed to avoid the worst of foundation settling. Helical piers can be installed so that regardless of the condition of your soil, your home is being supported by the load-bearing soil deeper below.

Concrete Lifting Repair Services in Detroit Ann-Harbor, MI

A good way to tell if your concrete is settling is simply by walking on it. Even if there’s a slight tilt, you’ll be able to feel the gap right away. Concrete settling occurs when the soil is no longer able to support the concrete anymore, causing it to settle on one side. Before the concrete slab breaks in half due to uneven pressure, you can save the piece with concrete lifting.

Concrete lifting utilizes a firm material that is pumped under the concrete so that it fills the gap left behind by the soil. For an area like Detroit, where the winters are long and capable of damaging concrete, polyurethane injections are the best concrete lifting method. The old traditional method involves pumping cement into the gap, but there’s a chance the cement might make the settling worse due to how heavy it is. Plus, due to how destructive the freeze-thaw effect is, concrete lifting up settled concrete makes for a short-lived solution.

Polyurethane foam protects the soil from moisture, effectively deterring further soil expansion and shrinkage. It’s also lightweight enough that it doesn’t place any unnecessary pressure on the soil or the concrete.

Frequently Asked Questions

About Waterproofing, Crawl Spaces, and Foundation Repair in Detroit

If you’re thinking about insulating your basement, there are many different materials you can choose from. What you have to remember is that you’ll have to choose an insulation material that works well for the space you intend to install it in. Fiberglass, for example, is one of the most popular insulation materials used in homes. However, it works well for the upstairs portion of a home, not the basement or crawl space. This is because it’s an absorbent material.

Insulation materials can be divided into two categories: absorbent and reflective. Absorbent materials regulate the temperature of an area by absorbing the heat and trapping it in the enclosed space. The downside to this is that it also absorbs moisture. This is why absorbent materials like fiberglass cannot be used in basements or crawl spaces, where the moisture levels are a lot higher than the rest of the house. Once damp, absorbent insulation is unable to absorb heat like it used to, and it is prone to mold growth.

Reflective insulation materials are a much better choice when it comes to insulating your basement or crawl space. They control the temperature of the space by reflecting heat off each panel. Reflective insulation panels last a lot longer and need to be replaced less often than other kinds of insulation materials. Reflective insulation panels also tend to have a higher R-value than other kinds of insulation. The higher the R-value, the better it is at thermal control.

There comes a point deep underground where the soil is perpetually saturated with water. This part of the earth is known as the zone of saturation, and the very surface of this zone is known as the water table. Understanding how deep you have to go until reaching the water table is extremely important information every homeowner should know. This is because some water tables are incredibly shallow and can be found just a few feet from the surface of the ground. Because basements are partially underground, some of them are extremely close to the zone of saturation and will be more susceptible to water damage.

The farther north one goes, the shallower the water table is. Detroit has an extremely shallow water table that can be found near many homeowners’ foundations. Because the soil surrounding the foundations is constantly wet, the foundations are always at risk of damage due to soil expansion, shrinking, and hydrostatic pressure. These problems lead to even more issues with your foundation, which could eventually cause the entire home’s structural integrity to collapse. If you’re planning on repairing your foundation, you might want to think about waterproofing your basement while you’re at it, since a wet foundation is inevitable if you live in the Detroit area.

For those living above a shallow water table, the best thing you can do for your foundation is re-grade your yard. A negative yard grade plus a shallow water table means nothing but trouble for your foundation. These two factors together create the perfect conditions for hydrostatic pressure, especially because zones of saturation carry large amounts of groundwater. Re-grading your lawn so that water naturally flows away from your foundation will discourage groundwater buildup and give your foundation many more years of peace.

Anybody who has experienced summer in Detroit will be able to tell you how terribly humid it gets. It’s especially bad inside basements and crawl spaces during the summer since all the heat and humidity from the outside finds its way inside. With humidity comes mold to your crawl space, which is detrimental to both you and your house. Mold in crawl spaces eats away at your wood, softens it up, and weakens it to the point where the support beams can no longer properly support the floorboards. This leads to more problems down the line, like warped window and door frames, cracked corners, and leaking pipes.

As for how it affects you, mold can irritate the sinuses, lungs, and throat. It triggers allergies and can be dangerous to those with even mild respiratory issues. Long-term exposure to mold can destroy your respiratory organs and leave you with long-term health problems. All in all, you’d be wise to try to lower the humidity in your crawl space by as much as possible. This can be done by installing a dehumidifier in your crawl space so the humidity levels can stay adequate, even for a crawl space.

The kind of dehumidifier you need for your crawl space is not the same one you have around your home. Those aren’t potent enough to lower the humidity levels in a crawl space. Besides, household dehumidifiers typically need to be emptied manually, which can be troublesome to have to deal with in a small crawl space. The only kind of dehumidifiers that work for crawl spaces are industrial-grade types that foundation repair experts have. These kinds of dehumidifiers are the only ones strong enough to do the job, and they are fully automated, making them the most convenient dehumidifiers ever.

When your foundation looks like a lopsided mess with bowing walls and a cracked floor, it’s very tempting to just want to get rid of it all and start from scratch. Damaged foundation walls can be replaced with brand new ones if enough deterioration can be seen. However, understand that replacing your foundation walls is a lot more expensive, time-consuming, and unreliable than simply repairing the walls. The reason for this is because replacing your foundation will not address the cause of the problem: the soil.

Foundation problems arise when the soil surrounding the house expands and shrinks. Replacing foundation walls with new ones does not solve this issue because the same soil that caused the problems will still be there. Even if you replace the soil with a soil that is less expansive, sandy soils have their own set of problems, so you’ll be back at square one in a few short years. It’s impossible to completely get rid of the soil under your home because there needs to be some sort of material sturdy enough to hold a home yet loose enough to allow for water drainage. Having sedimentary rock as a foundation would be a flooding nightmare precisely because it does not allow for any kind of drainage.

The only way to work around expansive soils is by repairing your foundation and adding supports that don’t rely on soft soils. Cracked and bowing walls can be repaired with wall anchors or braces, which actually strengthen the walls over time. The foundation itself can be supported by helical, push, or slab piers. These are installed deep into the ground until reaching load-bearing soil that does not expand, shrink, or become displaced as easily as the softer surface soil. With piers, regardless of the status of the foundation soil, the load-bearing soil bears the weight of the structure.

There’s nothing more satisfying to look at than newly poured concrete. Its smoothness gives the space it inhabits an incredible sense of novelty and cleanliness that many homeowners wish they could preserve forever. Unfortunately, concrete does not stay absolutely perfect forever. Even the most well-protected concrete can begin to stain and flake five years after being poured. There are many reasons concrete surfaces begin to deteriorate, and many of them have nothing to do with the homeowner.

It all begins with the way the cement is mixed and how the concrete was poured. If mixed and poured by contractors that lack experience, the concrete will end up being structurally unsound, making it more likely to spall, crack, and break apart. Even experienced contractors can have trouble creating the perfect cement mixture. Sometimes, concrete will display efflorescence staining a year after creation due to the materials used in the cement mixture. There’s a lot a homeowner cannot control when it comes to concrete, and pitting, flaking, and staining due to cement mixture are just a few of them.

What homeowners can control, however, is how well they take care of their concrete. One of the worst things a concrete surface can experience is the freeze-thaw effect. Keeping snow off your concrete goes a long way when trying to preserve it and make sure it remains smooth. Reducing its exposure to rain will also help avoid staining, which is a common problem in older concrete. This will be easier with concrete that’s inside your home, but not so much with driveways, steps, and patios.

Concrete steps become uneven for the same reason concrete slabs do: settling. Settling occurs when the foundation is no longer capable of supporting the concrete structure underneath. There are two reasons settling occurs, which are soil shrinkage and poor soil compaction. One is determined during the construction process when the foundation is being laid down and the other is a direct consequence of the weather and the amount of water the soil is exposed to. Overall, concrete settling, even when it’s concrete steps, is inevitable, though some measures can be taken to extend the steps’ longevity.

Settling due to soil shrinkage is a common problem when the soil foundation has a lot of clay content. Clay makes soil expansive and able to hold a lot of water, but it also makes it so that it shrinks by a lot when the moisture dries up. While packed together, expansive soils are dense and tough, but once dried after having been exposed to water, the soil particles become displaced, and the soil loses its top volume. This leaves a gap between the concrete and the soil, making it so that the concrete no longer has an even support. Settling occurs unevenly, which is why concrete steps become lopsided when settling.

Soil needs to be compacted well as it’s being placed as a foundation. Without proper compaction, the soil cannot be made dense enough to hold up the concrete. Some soils are a lot harder to manipulate and need many rounds of compaction before they are ready. These difficult soils are usually compacted incorrectly, which means they become displaced whenever there is a small tremor, whenever pressure is placed upon them, or whenever water flows through them. It’s because of this displacement that a gap eventually forms under the concrete steps and causes settling issues.


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Foundation Systems of Michigan

32985 Schoolcraft Road
Livonia, MI 48150
Phone: (734) 749-9480

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Monday – Thursday: 7 am – 9 pm
Friday: 7 am – 7 pm
Saturday: 8 am – 2pm

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