Over the years we’ve covered many a DIY project gone bad on this podcast. On this episode, The Crack Daddy extols his thoughts about spray foam as a water leak prevention method.
Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Daddy himself, Adam Tracy. Adam and The Crack Man Rich have over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. Rich as over 25 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcast provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: I spray foamed my basement to stop a leak, and water is still coming in.
Narrator: So, Adam, over the years, we’ve covered many a-DIY-project-gone-bad. What are your thoughts about using spray foam as a water leak prevention method?
Adam: Unfortunately, we’re finding this more and more often with contractors who are refinishing basements for homeowners, and spray foam insulation has become a very popular tool to help increase the R-value of insulation factor of a home efficiently and is more expensive than that insulation, but it does allow you to get a higher R-value for the same inch of insulation.
For many reasons, to meet Massachusetts, Rhode Islands, New Hampshire building codes, it’s required, unless you really change the framing of the basement to accommodate for thicker baths. The biggest challenge that we have out there is that it’s become the panacea for a lot of foundation issues, or at least that’s how it’s being presented by certain companies out there. And the biggest challenge is that it hides everything.
We had a particular instance this week with a homeowner in Winchester, Massachusetts. They were finishing their basement or refinishing their basement into a nice living space, and they had all these foundation cracks, two of which were actively leaking during a rainstorm, a few days prior to when they were expected to get the spray insulation done. And they were told, unfortunately, that the spray foam would plug everything up and it wouldn’t have any issues. And then as soon as they did it, and literally two days later, it rained again, and they had water coming in.
It was a good cautionary tale for this particular homeowner that it was not a waterproofing material but an air dampening material to keep the insulation factor high in your house. Even though a lot of the materials that we use look similar, it’s chemically very different than what we would have for an insulation type of closed-cell resin. So in this particular case and in many cases, we have a homeowner that has done a basement remodel and during a rain event, they’ve never had water in the foundation or in the basement, but in the rain event, they’re starting to see water coming in. And even if they were to go open up the walls, they wouldn’t be able to see a whole lot because that spray foam gets onto all the studs and the stud work and the foundation wall, so it makes it very challenging to isolate and hunt down the water issue.
In the case of this homeowner that we had just repaired a foundation for, they knew exactly where the cracks were because they just closed everything in, so it’s easy for us to basically take that map of where the new things were, open up the walls, have a contractor take out the insulation that was there to expose the foundation cracks, so that we could repair and then they could go reapply the material. But a lot of homeowners aren’t as lucky knowing where potentially cracks or flaws, the foundation are, and so when we have a homeowner that has a foundation issue like this, and they may of walked into a house that was already remodeled, or they did it years ago and aren’t sure exactly where issues may be, it becomes a hunting game. And unfortunately, sometimes we’re flying a little bit blind knowing where things are.
We always tell people, look on the exterior to see where a foundation crack could present on the outside, typically, there’s going to be one on the inside as well, and if it lines up roughly in the area where you’re experiencing water coming in, that’s the first place to look to be able to not tear down the entire remodel but maybe just a small portion to be able to resolve the water issue. Because obviously, water coming in behind the walls can have major consequences for health issues, and mold and mildew growth, etc. The other side that we’re getting to see a lot of is people spray foaming stone foundations, and stone foundations, you know, are very porous and they tend to be very drafty and it seems like a very good idea to insulate these areas.
The biggest challenge of that is that it becomes almost impossible to hunt down any sort of water issue because unlike a concrete foundation, where you’re usually presented into by a crack, or a tie rod, or pipe penetration, for the field stone foundation, could be anywhere, so it really could be at the floor-wall seam, it could be in between any individual stones, it could be up and over the top of the wall, we don’t know.
Before you take on the basement remodel project, understand what potential issues there are because once the spray foam goes in, the cost to remove it and then repair the issues can be extremely high. So if you’re going to refinish the basement and you want a spray foam solution, know that, 1) it’s not going to solve any structural or water potential issues on your foundation, and 2) any issues that you know you have or could have in those areas are going to be completely hidden and hard to access because of the nature of the spray foam insulation. Not to say it’s impossible but it becomes a much more challenging, more costly repair after the fact.
When you’re looking at your foundation, and you’re looking at a nice basement room for your living spare or a rec room or workout area, whatever you decide it’s going to be, look at the foundation first, understand what your risks are and know that spray foam, while fantastic product for insulating factors, is not going to solve any sort of water issues or structural issues with your house.
Narrator: Thanks Adam, for explaining why spray foam isn’t the best way to stop a basement water leak.
Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.