Thursday, March 6, 2014

Minnesota Waterproofing

Waterproofing cracked foundations
It's getting close to springtime in Minnesota and with the heavier than usual snowfall that means lot's of moisture.  This year will probably be different than last year where the ground was frozen solid and a lot of moisture was entering foundations through cracks that extended above grade level. 

This block wall foundation is a great example of several mistakes done by the owner hoping to keep water from entering his foundation and one that was a headache for the homeowner last year during the spring thaw. 

The first mistake is having the downspout end just a few inches from the ground where it is more susceptible to freezing and clogging up.  We always recommend about 18" off the ground to get the proper slope.  In addition we always recommend solid metal or plastic extensions, 10' if possible.  With a good slope and the longer length it will help get that water away from the problem areas.  This extension (the green piece) is also pointed towards the left when it should be pointed at us which would make it easier to hit the slope of the yard heading towards the right.  With this set up the water is getting dumped into the pea gravel (towards the left) but then heading to the right.  Along the route is this nice stair step crack that most likely goes from floor to ceiling in the basement

This basement has a working drain tile system but when there's rain, some of the water does work it's way into the system but the crack we see on the outside is also visible on the inside and taking the path of least resistance, it dumps out above the floor, skipping the drain tile system.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Great Lakes Waterproofing is a big fan of a properly working gutter and downspout system to help with wet basements.  Without a working gutter system most homes will see foundation and landscaping damage within three years here in the Midwest which means a lot of water in the basement. 

Homes built in areas of the country with four-seasons see some of the most punishing weather conditions, in addition to wet and dry, cold and hot, wind and sunlight can also contribute a lot of damage.  On the positive side, a lot of these areas also can be excavated for below grade space, or basements.

Basements are great but a large number of homes are several decades old and years of neglect have left the foundations unable to stop moisture from getting inside.  This foundation in the photo is very typical of what we see several times a day.  The home owner has a wet basement, actually very wet basement and wanted foundation waterproofing. 

Great Lakes Waterproofing's philosophy is to stop water on the exterior and truly waterproof a wet basement whenever possible, but even foundations like this can be challenging.  We start with the inside walls,  using inspector-grade equipment like moisture meters and infared thermography, we track moisture to it's point of entry.  In this case the block walls were full of moisture.  The next step is to do a exterior foundation survey to see what the drainage plan is.

What's a drainage plan?  Most homes are built slightly elevated, the original developers tried to have water moving in one direction away from the foundation.  Over time things may have changed, the most common is ground or concrete sinkage next to the foundation creating a negative slope.

This home seemed to have a decent drainage plan but the gutters were undersized and the extensions were pretty much useless.  We never recommend this style extension, always use plastic or aluminum.

After years of water splashing around this foundation, it has slowly damaged the concrete blocks to the point that large chunks are crumbling off.  We can only imagine what's happening below the surface.

This wet basement was quoted during the spring thaw, as you can see the extension goes right into a snow bank, any guesses what happens to the water draining off the roof when it hits this downspout? that frozen water in there?  Yep, this gutter has become completely useless at this point.  Although the heat of the sun is melting a lot of snow on the roof and around the foundation, there's no way for it to properly drain away.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Great article from the Billings Gazette about the bentonite industry.  While this material has hundreds of uses, it's properties make it perfect for exterior foundation waterproofing.
May 21, 2012 12:00 am  • 
GREYBULL, Wyo. — Applications to mine “the clay of 1,000 uses” are pouring into the Bureau of Land Management as companies look to capitalize on the bentonite boom and keep pace with the nation’s rebounding economy.
From mines at Frannie to Bearcreek, companies have ramped up production, racing to extract a commodity that was deposited millions of years ago as volcanic ash and chemically reworked in a shallow, inland seaway.
At M-I Swaco’s mine east of Greybull, BLM geologist Gretchen Hurley holds a lump of bentonite in her hand. With the consistency of Play-Doh, the damp product is easily shaped, rolled and squeezed.
“I think the new applications are a result of companies trying to get ahead of the permitting curve, because it takes a while to permit one of these mines,” Hurley said. “If we can get them approved for a 500-acre mine, that’ll keep them supplied in bentonite for 10 to 30 years.”
Bentonite has the ability to swell to 16 times its original size and absorb 10 times its weight in water. It’s used in cat litter and beauty supplies and as a binding agent in animal feed. It’s also used in foundry work and in drilling, including in the Bakken field of North Dakota.
The clay’s industrial uses tie it directly to the nation’s energy and auto industries. With the economy on the mend, the bentonite industry has followed suit, restoring jobs lost in 2008 while creating an increase in mining applications across the region.
At the American Colloid plant east of Lovell, plant manager Steve Wilkerson said that at height of the recession, around 42 employees lost their jobs. Around 30 of those jobs have been restored and production has increased, surpassing pre-recession figures.
“Before the recession we were running at around 650,000 to 700,000 tons a year,” Wilkerson said. “In 2008, we dropped off to around 280,000 tons. At the present moment, the way things are going right now, we should be back at around 750,000 to 780,000 tons.”
Bentonite means business
The life of a bentonite mine depends on market conditions, and it’s Lyndon Bucher’s job at American Colloid to ensure that a steady flow of clay is available to keep pace with customer demands, including the oil industry, General Motors and Caterpillar.
Bucher, who works in American Colloid’s permitting and reclamation department, said that like all mining operations, clay is subject to booms and busts. Business lately has been up.
“Bentonite is considered an industrial mineral, and so it goes into a number of different products,” Bucher said. “You could say we’re something of a bellwether for the national economy. For the most part, as the economy goes, so goes the bentonite industry.”
Wyoming’s annual bentonite production has risen from 1,400 tons in 1927 to more than 4.5 million tons. Five companies are engaged in 19 active mining plans across several counties in Montana and Wyoming, according to the BLM.
“I’m supposed to maintain at least five years of permitted reserves in every grade of bentonite,” Bucher said. “We’ll do the exploration drilling to locate and grade the product. Once the exploration is done, we know where we need to permit.”
This arid region of the basin, which extends down the western front of the Pryor and Bighorn mountains in Montana and Wyoming, is considered one of the world’s top producers of high-swelling, sodium-type bentonite clay, representing nearly 70 percent of the world's known supply.
According to the Wyoming Mining Association, the industry employs about 605 workers in the Bighorn Basin, including mill operators, mechanics, surveyors, packaging operators and laboratory technicians. For every job provided by the industry, an estimated three additional jobs are created in the community.
In Wyoming, where most of the activity takes place, the industry contributes more than $11.3 million in taxes and royalties. Its annual payroll with benefits comes to roughly $48.3 million, with nearly 70 percent of that paid to employees in the Bighorn Basin.
“Without the bentonite industry, you could fold Big Horn County up and it would go away,” said county Commissioner Keith Grant. “Of our top 10 assessed valuations, four are bentonite companies. The top two are oil and gas, and the railroad is in there, too.”
Remaining reserves
It wasn’t until 1888 that the first commercial shipment of bentonite was made. The clay earned its name from discoveries in Montana’s Fort Benton Formation. It’s been sought after ever since.
Large-scale bentonite mining and processing in this region began near Greybull in the early 1950s. More than 21,000 acres have been mined in the Bighorn Basin to date, according to the BLM.
On the hood of her truck, Hurley lays out a map with the mines designated in red. The bentonite sought by companies lies in a north-south trend along the eastern rim of the basin.
“This whole horizon of gray shale that’s in front of us — we’re looking at a long strike, or a trend, and there are bentonite beds all along that profile,” Hurley said. “It’s a big, huge area.”
Hurley said an inland sea once covered this region while mountain-building volcanoes to the west spewed ash. The ash settled into the sea, where it was chemically worked over time.
Buried by sand, pressurized and compressed, it became the product rolling by the ton into the basin’s plants. There, it’s dried, processed and packaged in powder and granular forms to meet customer needs.
“There are several different beds, and each bed has its own unique properties,” said Jason Schneider, the mining operations manager with American Colloid. “We’re trying to select different beds to meet the demands for the final product.”
Standing at a cross-cut at the Frannie mine on the state line, Schneider notes the striated layers of shale and the bed of bentonite below. Even here in this small pit, no more than an acre in size, the bentonite comes in yellow and blue.
Schneider said each bed of clay is given to a different set of qualities suited for a variety of industrial uses. It’s up to the companies to extract and process the right clay for the job.
“For this location, it’s a lot of drilling mud,” Schneider said. “With the activity in North Dakota, in the Bakken, that increases the demand for drilling mud. Foundry work has been real strong as well — the auto market. Those things are coming back, and when the economy starts to pick up, you see it on this end.”
Estimates vary on how much accessible bentonite remains here in the ground. A 1989 report by the American Institute of Mining Engineers suggests that around 1.1 billion tons have yet to be mined.
A 1980 edition of the U.S. Bureau of Mines, Minerals, Facts and Problems lists bentonite reserves of around 200 million tons. Either way, it’s enough to keep the bentonite industry supplied for years to come.
“If it’s oil and gas drilling, we’ll target a specific clay for that, and if it’s cat litter, we’ll target another clay for that,” Bucher said. “We have many different customers, and we’ll try to meet the market demand by mining in these different areas and getting the right quality of clay into the plant.”
For those looking for exterior bentonite pressure injection for waterproofing you've found the right place.  Exterior waterproofing using bentonite was discussed on the Home Improvement Show with Lindus Construction on WCCO Radio Saturday Morning with the experts agreeing that stopping water on the exterior (with bentonite) is the best way to truly waterproof your foundation.

The example presented was a wet basement floor leaking from the seam the floor and wall make.  In most cases this is a cold joint with no gasketing meaning that it's two pieces of concrete installed at different times.  Once the water pressure outside is high enough it will push water through this area.

Using a waterproofing mix of all-natural bentonite, Great Lakes Waterproofing fills the water-pathways, once the bentonite sets up water cannot pass through it, creating a waterproof barrier.  More water pressure just pushes the bentonite tighter against the foundation.

For new construction we can install a bentonite membrane before the concrete is poured.  We overlap all the seams and cover everything below grade.  Once backfilled this is one of the most durable types of waterproofing known.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Concrete Wall Is Leaking!

This is one of my favorite wet basement photographs, and really backs up the phrase "a photo is worth a thousand words."   The photo shows an inside foundation wall with some insulation removed.  This wet basement area was leaking a great amount of water on the floor during big rains.  The home owner was mad because they had a drain tile system but it was dry most of the time.  The photo shows a vertical wall crack and the dark area is water on the foundation and floor and what's left of a tie rod above the black corrugated channel on the floor.  With poured walls, tie rods were used to hold forms together when they poured the walls.  When the concrete sets, the forms are pulled but the contractor has no choice but to leave these tie rods in the concrete (they normally bust off the protruding tab ends).  Made of metal, these tie rods rust when exposed to water, this one is no different leaving a good size hole in the wall and possibly providing a stress point that lead to the vertical crack. 

The black corrugated channel is supposed to capture this water and drain it down to an underfloor drain tile system leading to a sump pump and sump pit.  This drain tile system has failed here and a few other places in this basement and we see this type of drain tile failure often especially when the water comes out above the floor.

Great Lakes Waterproofing uses all methods of waterproofing, they all have their strong points, but we love to do exterior waterproofing and really seal up the foundation.  In most cases, exterior hydroclay waterproofing is the least costly.  In this situation we injected all-green bentonite hydroclay along this side of the home, filling in voids and cracks.  Once set up water is not able to get through this barrier and after a year and a half of record rain fall this basement is dry again.

For customers wanted to address the crack as well, we offer Fortress Stabilization Carbon Fiber Strips.  We would use marine grade epoxy and attach carbon fiber strips to staple up the crack preventing it from future movement. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Voids Around the Foundation

Sometimes it's hard to explain to a home owner that they might have large air cavities next to their foundation, sometimes even running the length of the wall that might be letting in large amounts of water.  Over time the ground has settled and leaves voids that fill with water during a hard rain or even when watering the lawn.

With our Great Lakes Waterproofing's Bentonite (Hydroclay) Injection System the idea is to fill these voids in with Bentoseal Bentogrout.  This Bentonite Compound will fill the voids, seek out the water pathways and when properly set up, not let further water invade this space, true waterproofing, stopping water on the outside before it has a chance to enter the home.

It's not often we get a chance to show a photo of these voids but these clearly show that once the driveway was cut away it exposed these air cavities.  These cavities can hold hundreds of gallons of water and once the water finds an opening it will drain onto your floor, this can last days after the rain stops. 

The water can enter the blocks or poured wall at any point, Some waterproofers might recommend digging around the foundation, maybe two or three feet and laying a rubber membrane bolted to the foundation, this is why membranes that only go a few feet down are useless, the point of entry might be further down

the wall, we've poked through membranes and found voids further down.  Yes, we've done work on homes with rubber membranes.  For exterior waterproofing there's only one company that pulls together over 34 years of business experience.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Waterproofing older homes and buildings

Great Lakes Waterproofing is proud to have been selected to waterproof the historic home of President Benjamin Harrison located in beautiful Indianapolis Indiana  Great Lakes Waterproofing does several similar projects using our exterior waterproofing system that consists of injecting bentonite clay, or hydroclay, around the perimeter of the home.  In most cases excavation is not necessary since we use small diameter pipe that's pushed down to the footing (basement floor level).  Keeping the landscaping intact and having little intrusion on the interior is why homowners and business owners chose Great Lakes Waterproofing. While interior drain tile systems have a place, most buildings and homes are better suited for exterior waterproofing, stopping water before it gets inside. 
In older homes there are several reasons an underfloor drain tile system is not considered, such as, disturbing the basement floor might not be an option, or the basement area is finished and putting in an underfloor drain system will cause too much damage.  One of the most common issues is if the walls are poured (solid concrete) or the builder used solid rock, limestone walls are very common in the Midwest.  Drain tile is very ineffective with these mostly solid walls, the water enters the basement above the floor and cannot get into the drain tile system.
That brings us back to exterior waterproofing, not only are we sealing off the water pathways but we also help the stone and mortar stay drier, ensuring longer life.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Exterior Waterproofing on Historic Buildings

We're heading into the fall rainy season again and Great Lakes Waterproofing is leading the way with exterior waterproofing. While we work with most products and systems available, sealing the foundation from the exterior is our preferred method.  A lot of our Bentonite waterproofing projects involve older, maybe even historic, structures.  Bentonite (Hydroclay) Waterproofing works great because it fills in voids, follows the water and seals the passageways.  Once properly set up the foundation will have the time-tested proven properties of Bentonite.

Historic and older properties can be a little more difficult to address for exterior waterproofing, buildings were often built closer to sidewalks and parking lots.  If excavation were necessary the costs would go up tremendously.  Great Lakes Waterproofing addresses these issues by drilling small holes around the perimeter and pumping under the obstruction.  this building is typical of what you might find in the downtown district, construction is solid stone foundation and brick above grade with an asphalt patio area.  Water is coming in through this side so that's the area we'll do our exterior waterproofing.      

After drilling several small holes near the foundation, we pump our Bentonite sealing up this part of the wall.  In the photo is an injection wand, extending down around 8'-10', and hose that's connected to the pumping equipment.  Our industrial pumping equipment is capable of pumping long distances, this patio area was sealed off by a fence and we only had limited access, not only would excavating this area be difficult, most of it would have to be done by hand. 

The front side of this building also presented it's own challenges, even with the concrete all the way up to the foundation, this building had major water issues.  The solid stone walls were fine but over time some of the mortar joints opened up allowing free-flowing water to enter the building.  Since the water was entering above the floor and the wall was solid, the owner decided to go with exterior waterproofing.  Excavation and digging were cost prohibitive but Bentonite waterproofing seemed like the perfect product for this application.

After drilling small holes along the perimeter, Bentonite is pumped all the way down to the footings (basement floor level), this photo is neat because you can see the clay coming back up a hole that's over six feet away.  Once the Bentonite sets up, the water that used to flow in this "void" will not be able to pass through the Bentonite. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Visit us at the Home Builders Association Home Show

Once again Great Lakes Waterproofing is at the Home Builders Association of Kalamazoo's Home Show. From March 11 through the 14th feel free to talk to our sales engineers about any issues with your basement, parking garage, elevator pit, etc.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about our services including hydroclay injection, sump pump installation and repair, wall reinforcements, elevator pit waterproofing.

More information can be found at the following site

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Drain Tile & Cove Drain in Action

Wow, a picture sure is worth a million words. In this wet basement photo we have a block wall filled with water. It has the typical signs including staining of the wall at the mortar joints, cracks with staining and moisture present. The homeowner has installed both a drain tile system and a cove drain system.

The drain tile system is high-end with a nice control panel for the pump and there's probably a battery back-up for the pump install in another room in case there's a power failure. The white PVC pipe is the sump pump discharge that goes out to the yard.

There's also a cove system installed at floor level. Several holes have been drilled into the cinder block cores at the floor level to relieve any water that fills the concrete blocks. Cracks in the outside wall have allowed water to build up in the blocks and the holes should provide an exit for the water which drains into the channel that leads to a sump pump.

Great Lakes Waterproofing was called in because this area was still getting wet and not a little wet but a lot wet, in fact a hole that someone had drilled into the block had a stream of water pouring out of it. Not only was the hole drilled 33" above the floor level but the blocks were full of water at this level. (a cinder block holds approximately 1.7 gallons of water)

The upper photo is roughly 7.5' wide by 4'+ tall, there's close to 51 gallons of water in this area of block, maybe more looking at the staining on the bottom course of white block. Imagine a typical city house with a footprint of 24' x 24', one wall could have hundreds of gallons of water in the blocks.

In this situation Great Lakes Waterproofing sealed the outside of the basement wall stopping the water before it filled the blocks truly waterproofing the basement

The cove system failed because rocks and debris clogged it up the water was unable to drain into the channel. The drain tile system failed for the same reason, the cracks on the outside wall were large enough to allow rocks and debris to fill up the first course of block, once filled both systems don't have a way drain the water. What options do you have when your water management system fail?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

2008 Best Of Mattawan Award

Press Release
Great Lakes Waterproofing Co. Receives 2008 Best of Mattawan Award
U.S. Local Business Association’s Award Plaque Honors the Achievement

WASHINGTON D.C., July 27, 2008 -- Great Lakes Waterproofing Co. has been selected for the 2008 Best of Mattawan Award in the Waterproofing category by the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA).

The USLBA "Best of Local Business" Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USLBA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community. Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2008 USLBA Award Program focused on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USLBA and data provided by third parties.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Landscaping and Waterproofing

While landscaping can help with waterproofing your wet basement several steps need to done to insure water is running away from the foundation and not into the basement. This house had the entire yard landscaped with rocks, plants, mulch and a multi-tiered rock wall.

Above the basement wall is a board called the sill plate. The sill plate is a horizontal wooden board attached to the concrete basement wall and supporting the above ground walls. This board should be at least 6"-8" above the finished grade.

This photo shows new landscaping that's been graded as high as the sill plate. Although you can't see it, the bottom of the sill plate is even with the bottom of the rock siding. The area in the center of the photo also has a small slope towards the home and rock wall.

During a rain storm, water would build up in the center area and enter the house between the sill plate and basement wall. While the house had a drain tile system none of this water was captured and ended up on the floor creating a very wet basement.

Some of the signs that the water is coming in from above ground include stains on the wall as in the case of this window. In this case heavy rains would spill over the window frame into the basement area. Once again a drain tile system would not work with this wet basement.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Waterproofing or Water Management?

When asked what they would prefer, waterproofing or water-management, most customers would like waterproofing. What's the difference? Waterproofing keeps moisture outside while water-management still lets the water inside, diverting it to a tank and pumping it back outside. There's only one way to have a truly dry basement....stop the water before it has a chance to get inside.

One of the most popular "waterproofing" systems is the installation of Drain Tile. Basically a trench is excavated around the walls of your basement and a perforated pipe is installed and new floor is poured over the pipe. The pipe drains to a tank in the floor which gets pumped outside when filled with water.

Another popular system, used with block walls, involves drilling holes near the floor into the blocks. The theory behind this is that the blocks fill with water and the holes will help with drainage. A plastic channel is fastened to the wall to capture the water and drain into a tank similar to the drain tile system.

Both of these systems have serious red flags including:

Power failure....What if the power goes out during a major storm and the sump pump stops? You guessed it, a basement full of water

Pump failure....It doesn't take much, an old pump (remember these are usually sitting in the bottom of a tank full of water), dirty water, rocks, string can all spell disaster.

Moist basement....These systems are still letting the water in providing a nice place for mold to grow and that damp, musty odor to flourish

Erosion of the foundation....While draining water these systems are also pumping out dirt and gravel that was once around the foundation. Over time you are slowly destroying the foundation of your home and providing an easier path for water to get in. Ever noticed how sidewalks next to older homes always seem to be sloping towards the house? The foundation has washed away allowing the sidewalk to sink and at the same time increasing the amount of water into the basement.

The leak must be at the floor level....In theory these systems seem great but what if the water is coming in half way up the wall? Neither will be able to capture this water and properly get rid of it.

Around 40% of our installations are homes or pits with existing drain tile or drain cove systems. Either the owner was fed up with the maintenance required or the system was not working properly or it was running all the time. By stopping the water before it can even get in, we truly waterproof and don't water manage.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Great Lakes Waterproofing is a member of the Better Business Bureau

Great Lakes Waterproofing is committed to excellence and we're giving our waterproofing customers the ability to shop with confidence by being a member of the Better Business Bureau.
Members must meet a high level of customer satisfaction to stay in good standing and we're committed to providing the highest level of service for our Midwest customers that demand the best. The Bureau has always been a great source for customers to research contractors and find out if there's any red flags. As our customers already know, Great Lakes Waterproofing is the premier waterproofer for Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.

Friday, April 4, 2008

It's Springtime in the Midwest, Now is the Time to Waterproof

With all the swings in the weather, now is the perfect time to waterproof your basement, parking garage, retaining wall, etc. The Great Lakes Waterproofing Method works from outside preventing water from getting through your walls. With all of the expansion and contraction of materials built up outside your wall, water is being forced at up to 500 pounds per square inch into your basement. Our system injects hydroclay into the soil which fills the voids and small cracks in your walls....once injected it absorbs water and expands like a sponge eventually turning into a permanent, flexible barrier against moisture. Unlike other methods, we use all natural materials as specified by the National Institute Of Science making us one of the very few Green Waterproofing Methods. Used in thousands of installations including tunnels, manholes, dams, ponds, dumps, our method has proven itself time and time again.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Fixing Hollow Basement Floors

One of the benefits of the Great Lakes Waterproofing Process is that it fills in voids that would otherwise fill with water or become home to critters. In addition to waterproofing vertical walls, our process can also be used to fill in voids under your basement floor.
Over time the base beneath your basement floor might slowly "wash" away leaving the floor with a hollow thump when you walk over it. We see (or hear) this quite a bit in older houses. Once the foundation underneath the floor is gone the concrete has more of a tendency to crack without the support.
Using our Hydroclay Injection Process we drill holes through the basement floor and pump underneath the floor filling the voids with our expanding clay. In addition to providing support to the floor it also plugs up passages used by unwanted critters, including rats and mice, that might have taken up refuge. The injection holes are filled with mortar and the process is complete.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Great Lakes Waterproofing is Featured in Your Home Magazine

Great Lakes Waterproofing is featured in Your Home Magazine
Homeowners are excited about the exclusive Great Lakes Waterproofing Method, read about our waterproofing as featured in Home Magazine.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

There's Water In My Elevator Pit

Recently one of our sales engineers was faced with the task of helping waterproof an elevator pit. The basic construction of a pedestrian elevator includes a pit 10'-20' below the last floor for counterweights, wiring and a giant hydraulic safety stand. The building this three-stall elevator pit was located in was next to a large rocky limestone hill and about 200' from a river. Wall construction was poured concrete in good to excellent condition.
While the pit was set up with an exposed cove drain tile system around the wall leading to the sump pump the rest of the floor was not protected and over time water was noticed coming through some of the bolt holes drilled into the floor holding up the tracks for the elevator. In addition there were several areas around the seam at the wall and floor that water was creeping through including a larger leak the size of a pencil that water was coming out of in a steady stream.

Using our exclusive bentonite hydroclay injection system the installers at Great Lakes Waterproofing tackled the problem by drilling holes near the leaks and injecting our waterproofing blend of bentonite hydroclay. Right away the flow of water had stopped at the bolt holes. The next step was to waterproof the perimeter, not an easy task as it was flowing over a gallon of water into the sump every minute. Our waterproofing blend of bentonite hydroclay is an all natural product that stays flexible throughout it's lifespan, the self-sealing nature of the clay is perfect for this application that has many dynamic water forces at work.

Once again our waterproofers drilled holes every few feet straight down through the concrete into the sand and water. Working fast to make sure the sump pump was not overwhelmed by the water coming in through the new holes, the Great Lakes Waterproofing Team pumped bentonite waterproofing into all the holes and capped them off with hydraulic cement. for a permanent waterproofing solution.

Another elevator pit we waterproofed contained a large hydraulic lift for it's industrial elevator. Typically the shaft is buried as deep as it's height above the floor, in this case over three stories.
The old lift had started leaking hydraulic fluid and needed to be replaced. The floor around the old shaft was broken out, the new shaft installed and concrete was poured around the new shaft. Several areas of repaired concrete around the new shaft developed leaks. The elevator pit floor was next to a river and 5-10' below the surface of the water, developing a lot of hydrostatic pressure on the exterior of the elevator pit. The pit had 2-3" of water and the sump pump was running continously 24 hours a day.

Once again we drilled through the concrete floor and pumped in our waterproofing blend of bentonite hydroclay. Several areas around the pit needed attention. Once the hydroclay was installed and the pit started to dry we closed all the holes off with hydraulic cement. In addition to drying up the elevator pit, the industrial sump pump is now dormant.

Things are looking good now in these dry elevator pits, this is another example of bentonite waterproofing we can do at a fraction of the cost the other guys charge to divert the water.

Friday, October 26, 2007

When it's Raining We're Not Complaining

Minnesota has a new record, after 107 years we've broken the amount of rainfall for August, September and October with 18.91 inches of rain and October isn't over yet. While most yards are happy with the extra water, homeowners with leaking basements aren't. The Great Lakes Waterproofing Team has been busy waterproofing area houses and taking care of those leaky walls with our hydroclay injection system using Bentonite Clay. The advantage with our process is that we only waterproof the areas that are leaking and not the entire structure. The Bentonite Clay finds it's way into the cracks and holes in your walls, expands and creates a permanent flexible barrier against moisture so in 100 years your basement will still be dry.....

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Why Waterproofing With Plastic Doesn't Work Most of the Time

A few of the Great Lakes Waterproofing Sales Guys have been quoting jobs where the homeowner has already tried to grade the yard so it slopes away from the foundation to help with water issues. Most of the time we encounter a layer of heavy duty plastic with rocks on top and a plastic barrier usually 4-6" tall, place around the perimeter.

It looks great but they wonder why there's still water in the basement. Before the Great Lakes Waterproofers start waterproofing, we have to clear away the rocks to help get our injection equipment in and we usually see the same thing. No prep work has been done on the ground before the plastic sheet and rocks have been laid down. Instead of tamping (compacting) the soil, the plastic is laid upon a somewhat graded area and rocks are laid on top.

The opposite effect has occurred.....the rocks compact the soil around the foundation causing a "funnel" situation, the water builds up on the plastic, is held in by the new barrier and is channeled back to the foundation, making the situation as bad or worse then before. Unfortunately grading away from the house requires a lot of work and professional equipment to be done right or the water issues will be worse. You're not alone if you try to waterproof this way, we see it all the time.

The Great Lakes Waterproofing Injection Method provides a foundation barrier against moisture and can fill in some of the low areas with bentonite clay, preventing water from pooling up in one area.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Great Lakes Waterproofing is Featured in The Villager Newspaper

The Great Lakes Exclusive Hydroclay Injection System has attracted a lot of attention including the guys over at The Villager Newspaper. One of our Sales Engineers, John Howley, was recently interviewed on the best way to waterproof a leaky basement. Follow the link to this fascinating article on protecting your basement agains water.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Facts About Bentonite (Hydroclay)

Great Lakes Waterproofing uses a waterproofing version of Bentonite, here's some information about it's properties and uses.

Sodium bentonite expands when wet, it can absorb several times its dry mass in water.
It is mostly used in drilling mud with drilling rigs for oil & gas wells and for geotechnical & environmental investigations. The property of swelling also makes sodium bentonite useful as a sealant, especially targeted for the sealing of subsurface disposal systems for spent nuclear fuel and for quarantining metal pollutants of groundwater. Similar uses include making slurry walls, waterproofing of below grade walls and forming other impermeable barriers (e.g. to plug old wells or as a liner in the base of landfills to prevent migration of leachate into the soil).

Early Americans found bentonite vital to their lives. Pioneers found moistened bentonite to be an ideal lubricant for squeaky wagon wheels. The mixture was also used as a sealant for log cabin roofing. The Indians found bentonite useful as a soap.

Small amounts of Wyoming bentonite were first commercially mined and developed in the Rock River area during the 1880s. Newer, more substantial deposits were discovered in other parts of Wyoming during the 1920s and the first processing plant in Wyoming was built during this period. Since that time many other processing plants have been built for the purpose of processing Wyoming sodium bentonite. Wyoming's Bentonite industry produced over 4.0 million tons of bentonite in 1999, with 644 mine and mill employees, and 240 contractor employees.
Wyoming bentonite is composed essentially of montmorillonite clay, also known as hydrous silicate of alumina. In more simplistic terms, the structure of bentonite is much like a sandwiched deck of cards. When placed in water, these cards or clay platelets shift apart. Bentonite attracts water to its negative face and magnetically holds the water in place. because of this unique characteristic, Wyoming bentonite is capable of absorbing 7 to 10 times its own weight in water, and swelling up to 18 times its dry volume.

The usefulness of bentonite has been recognized for years for these types of applications. A range of bentonite products have been used for many years as permeability barriers in drainage ditches, livestock pond liners, amendments to pond dams, and even as municipal landfill liners in the form of geosynthetic clay liners. Many of the same bentonite properties that allow it to be used successfully in these applications can be readily extended to decorative water feature markets. In addition, bentonite is a natural geologic product and has a seventy year history of use in a wide array of industrial, environmental, and consumer products.

Drilling mud, or drilling gel, is a major component in the well drilling process. Drilling mud is crucial in the extraction of drill cuttings during the drilling process. Bentonite, when mixed with water, forms a fluid (or slurry) that is pumped through the drill stem, and out through the drill bit. The bentonite extracts the drill cuttings from around the bit, which are then floated to the surface. The drilling mud, or gel, also serves to cool and lubricate the drill bit as well as seal the drill hole against seepage and to prevent wall cave-ins

Taconite, a low grade iron ore, has been developed as an economic source for iron. During processing, the taconite is ground into a very fine powder. The ground taconite is then mixed with small amounts of bentonite which serves as a binder to the taconite. This mixture is processed into balls or pellets. The process is finished when these pellets are sintered in rotary kilns that give the pellets a hard surface. The taconite pellets are easy to handle at this point and can be loaded into various containers for shipment to steel mills.

Bentonite serves as an economical bonding material in the molding processes associated with the metal casting industry. Bentonite, when mixed with foundry molding sands, forms a pliable bond with the sand granules. Impressions are formed into the face of the bentonite/sand mixtures. Molten metal is pored into the impressions at temperatures exceeding 2,800 F. The unique bonding characteristics of bentonite insures the durability of the mold during these high temperatures. Once the process is complete, the bentonite/sand mold can then be broken away from the casting face and reused.

In recent years, bentonite has become a major component in the manufacturing of cat litter. Because of the unique water absorption, swelling, and odor controlling characteristics of bentonite, it is ideal for use in "clumping" types of cat litters. Clumping cat litter has become widely accepted as an economical alternative to conventional non-clumping type cat litters. Because bentonite forms clumps when wet, the clumps can easily be removed and disposed of. The remainder of the unused material stays intact and can continue to be used. clumping cat box litters will last longer with less frequency of changing.

For many years bentonite has been used as a binder in the feed pelletizing industry. Small amounts of bentonite can be added to feed products to insure tougher, more durable pellets. By absorbing excess moisture and oils, bentonite aids in the free movement of pellets, preventing lumping and caking. Research has been conducted which indicates that bentonite has additional benefits for both animals and poultry. The bentonite used in the feed slows the digestive system and enables the animal or fowl to better utilize the feed nutrients. Other studies have shown bentonite as a useful ingredient in the control of certain toxins which affect animals and fowl.

Have you ever wondered how your favorite white wine gets so clear and shiny? That brilliant sheen comes from removing large particles of protein and suspended solids that can cause a wine to go cloudy in the bottle, especially when the wine is exposed to heat. The winemaker actually adds bentonite to attract proteins and clarify the wine! The term used in winemaking is fining.

Bentonite has also proved helpful in sealing freshwater ponds, irrigation ditches, reservoirs, sewage and industrial water lagoons, and in grouting permeable ground. In addition, it has been used in detergents, fungicides, sprays, cleansers, polishes, ceramic, paper, cosmetics and applications where its unique bonding, suspending or gellant properties are required

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How The Homeowner Can Help

The first question we get asked is "how can I help?" While the Great Lakes Waterproofing System works in nearly all applications, there are steps that can be taken to help insure that the basement dries up completely. The most common problem is improper drainage away from the structure, make sure gutters are attached properly and the extensions are long enough to clear all obstructions including patios, sidewalks, trees, etc.
For a typical mid-size house 1/2" of rain on the roof will be over 150 gallons of water, some houses only have two downspouts so over 75 gallons of water could be concentrated in one area. This is why it's crucial that the water is channeled away from the structure and not left to saturate into the ground near the foundation. Our experience has shown that even placing plastic on the ground around the house does little to channel the water away if other steps are not taken first.

Another place overlooked is the window wells. The gravel should be at least 4" thick and about 8" below the window. Over time debris builds up in the wells and if not cleaned out will provide water an easy entrance between the window frame and the wall.

Last but not least, observe the concrete and pavers around the house. Over time these will settle (usually sloping towards the house) providing a funnel of water right into the basement. Look for the tell-tale signs of dirt and sand built up on the concrete or pavers. Although expensive, replacing the concrete with a surface that slopes away from the structure might be one of the solutions. Proper surfaces should be slightly above the ground with a slight slope away from any structures.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Types Of Walls

Most of our work involves waterproofing structural walls. Using our injection equipment we saturate the ground with our Hydroclay which fills the voids and fissures that have formed over time allowing water to build up and enter your structure.

The most common walls we encounter are block, which can be hollow cinderblocks or an older solid block both which need a concrete mortar for a binder, or poured walls which are constructed by using a form on each side and concrete is poured in the middle. The form acts as a mold preventing the concrete from spreading out. Newer style forms are made up of a styrofoam panel connected with tie-rods and are meant to stay in the ground. Older style forms are reusable but still use tie-rods to hold together so "blow-out" doesn't occur.

The mortar and the tie-rods are usually the first things to go. Mortar has a limited life span and can start deteriorating within years of applying and is greatly accelerated by moisture. The metal tie-rods that hold both sides of your poured-wall forms together have to be left in the concrete. When in contact with moisture they rust out and leave a pathway for water intrusion.

The Great Lakes Waterproofing Method works in almost all of these situations. Once injected it fills in cracks and openings in the wall preventing further moisture penetration.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Waterproofing With Bentonite

For over 30 years Great Lakes Waterproofing has been providing one of the most exciting waterproofing methods for home and business owners. Using our exclusive technology we inject a waterproofing blend of bentonite clay into the area around the basement floor and walls. In most cases this can be done from outside with nearly no damage to the existing ground cover. Once the Bentonite Hydroclay has saturated the ground, filled in voids and small cracks in the concrete walls, it begins to absorb water and solidify to a consistency similar to peanut butter providing a permanent barrier against water.  If your construction is new or you've exposed the wall we can apply benonite panels and membranes directly to the wall giving you the best waterproofing possible 

While methods such as filling cracks with mortar, applying an epoxy-base paint or a drain-tile type system help with diverting water, they all have one similar yet critical component...They still let the water through the wall before it gets stopped. The damage this causes to the wall continues as long as the water is present. Settling of the wall and mortar damage on block wall will continue requiring on-going maintenance.
Our method of waterproofing has been successful in many different applications, our blog will have case studies on several of these applications and the questions we encounter from time to time.