Why do bulkheads tend to leak in early Spring?

- Thursday, April 20, 2023

Spring weather can fluctuate wildly, going from freezing cold to quite warm in the matter of days.  How does that affect how watertight a bulkhead can be?

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: Why do bulkheads tend to leak in early spring?

Narrator: So, Adam, spring weather can fluctuate wildly going from freezing cold to quite warm in a matter of days. So how does that affect how watertight a bulkhead can be?

Adam: The early springtime is a very challenging time for a lot of bulkheads. It's very challenging because the weather can vary not only from day to day but sometimes within the same storm. Just recently, we had a March storm – that was half of Massachusetts and Rhode Island was a very heavy rain. While the other half got over two feet of snow, and some in between had rain transitioning into snow.

The early spring weather can wreak havoc on bulkheads in particular, and part of the reason isn't just because of precipitation but also what the ground is doing. The late March, early April springtime frame is when the ground starts to thaw a little bit and bulkheads are very susceptible to the freeze-thaw cycle. A normal foundation, concrete foundation, or even a block foundation will have extreme minor movement with freezing and thawing cycles, sometimes we'll see them in foundation cracks that tend to open and close a little bit if somebody just puts hydraulic cement on.

Bulkheads are a totally different story. A precast bulkhead is going to be attached typically to a concrete foundation with two or four anchor bolts on the sides of the cutout of the foundation wall, and with the bolts is that these are attached and socked on there with a pipe torque socket and brought right to the foundation and they backfill the hole that they put these in. The challenge is that now this main foundation is essentially separate from the bulkhead precast foundation.

During the freezing and thawing cycles, that dirt that they back filled into the bulkhead hole will actually freeze and thaw and put different pressures on it versus a main foundation, so we get a rocking motion that happens. Now when bulkheads are installed, they're not just concrete to concrete, they put a seal around the bulkhead between the concrete to concrete transition. Think of it like, almost like an overing.

What happens is as this bulkhead freezes and thaws and rises and falls in the early spring time, it breaks down that rubberized gasket, that old ring that attaches there and that's when we get leaks. So you could go all winter long, all summer long, we never have a drop coming through there. But in that early spring or late fall, you start to see the water penetrating and once it comes in, then that's kind of the sign that the seal has broken down. So what do we do on these? Well, we can reestablish that seal on the bulkhead. Typically, it's down the sides and across the bottom where it attaches, not the metal portion up top, that's totally separate, but the concrete to concrete transition.

We can actually drill into that seam, use our high pressure pumps and inject a closed cell polymer resin material that's going to re-encapsulate that bulkhead both internally in the joints and also on the outsides and underneath the bulkhead. The biggest challenge with bulkheads even after this is done is that you may have a big rocking motion.

Sometimes there's additional steps that are needed, but for the vast majority of bulkheads, this is enough to seal it and keep the water from coming in. If you're in your garage or in your basement and you're seeing water coming around the bulkhead and it only happens in the springtime or only happens in the late fall, you're not crazy. This is usually when this happens and once it starts happening, it's something that you should get fixed because it's not going to seal itself off, it does take additional steps to do that.

Call us. We’ll be able to help you out through the process here. It's a very straightforward repair, we’re in and out in less than a day and you won’t have to worry about water coming through the bulkhead, ruining the basement.

Narrator: Well, very interesting, Adam, thanks for explaining why bulkheads tend to leak in early spring and how to fix it.

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 info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.

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A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.

E-mail: info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com
Toll Free: 866-929-3171

Call Us Today at 866-929-3171

A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.