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Cove Joints

Cove joints are the space between foundation walls and floors. The reason why they leak goes back to the construction of the property. During construction, builders pour concrete footings first and let them cure. They then build walls on top of the cured footings. Lastly, the builders pour the basement floor over the top of the base and against the basement wall. 


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Cracked foundation

Although this is a standard procedure for building a new home, the fresh layers of concrete poured on top of cured ones often don’t bind with them. This, in turn, leaves gaps and holes between the two surfaces. That space between them is what we call a cove joint in construction terms. 

Unfortunately, these joints are prone to water seepage. Due to water pressure, moisture will pass through them and the foundation wall.  

This joint must be sealed to control water seepage. Interior drain tiles and an exterior waterproofing membrane can help beat back moisture. 

Problems Associated with Cove Joints  

Since the two layers of concrete fail to bond, a weak plane will form, and this will impact the performance of your foundation. The resulting problems can range from mild to severe and may include:  

Weak concrete slab: True, concrete is strong, but it can become weak when a cove joint forms between its layers and water gets in. The freeze-thaw cycle in cold weather exerts significant stress on the concrete, and this can trigger wall cracks.  

Concrete becomes unsightly: A cove joint can also create a visually appealing discontinuity in your concrete. These are called cold joint lines. They appear when layers poured at different times start to harden.  

Nasty leaks: When wet concrete is poured onto an already dry slab, the fresh batch of concrete won’t bond with the existing layer. A void will form between the two layers and this gap will allow water to pass through. 

Cove Joint Seepage Solutions 

Bad Repair Options 

Some waterproofing contractors encourage homeowners to seal up their cove joints. This is a big mistake. While covering the gaps works well in the short term, it can lead to structural damage and water issues a few years down the road.  

The other downside to sealing cove joints is that this can cause hydrostatic pressure to build up whenever the water table rises. At some point, the foundation walls won’t be able to withstand the pressure. Two things may happen: the walls may crack, or they can bow.  

Water can enter your basement in many other ways. For instance, moisture may go around a sealed but expanding crack.  

Good Repair Options 

There are many things your foundation or basement contractor can do to control or stop water seepage. One is setting up a drainage system that reduces hydrostatic pressure. Such a system will keep groundwater and rainwater from the roof in check, ensuring they never pose problems.  

The other thing your waterproofing expert can do is install an interior drainage system and a sump pump system. The former will catch any leaking water while the latter will remove the water from your home. As a result, water won’t build up and start pushing against your walls.  

Ensure that you also regrade your land. A sloping yard will improve drainage. Water won’t pool around your home’s perimeter and cause problems.  

Cove joints shouldn’t spell doom for your foundation. You can avoid water issues and protect your basement by scheduling a free inspection and repair quote with the local experts at Groundworks. We’ll check the condition of basement and recommend a fix for your cove joint problem.