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Cove Joint

Cove joints connect the foundation walls to basement floors and allow water through should a structure experience a flood.

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Whenever there is a heavy downpour or prolonged rains in Virginia, Maryland, or D.C., the levels of groundwater along the foundation walls and below the basement rise. The subsequent changes in soil water push water through the cove joint and this exerts pressure on your basement floor and walls. The water that seeps through can stain your walls and damage floor coverings and other valuable belongings. 

What Is a Cove Joint? 

A cove joint is the juncture between your foundation walls and the basement floor. This joint occurs when builders excavate the ground and pour concrete on the foundation’s footings. 

After constructing the foundation footing, builders typically pour and erect the foundation walls to slot into a keyway and allow proper alignment. The basement floor is poured after the walls cure. This foundation pouring method leaves a small gap between the walls and the floor, known as a cove joint or a cold joint. 

The first batch of poured concrete begins to set even before the builders can add the next batch. The two will not mix uniformly, resulting in a cold joint. The cove joint is a weak point in the concrete and often the result of delayed or interrupted concrete operations. 

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

What Does a Cove Joint Do? 

The cove joint doesn’t look like a crack, but is relatively linear, joined closely, and bonded. The joint will not cause structural problems as long as it’s compressed. However, its location in the structure can impact the foundation’s health. 

While the cove joint is often regarded as a weak point, this is not always the case. It’s not a weak point if the builder pours the concrete and leaves a vertical bar sticking out of the attachment. However, if there’s no bar from old concrete, the joint will be known as a cold joint. 

A cove joint is one of the common water entry points into the building. It can instigate water seepage, especially when the water table rises and falls. 

Sometimes the change in soil conditions may put pressure on the basement walls and floors, which then pushes water through the cove joint. Any leaks can easily creep through the cove joint. In most cases, the areas that leak are the cove joints of a three-part foundation. 

Heavy rains, which cause water levels around your home to rise, can also cause cove joints to leak. If the rains continue, the soils get saturated. Hydrostatic pressure will increase and water will start seeping into the joints. 

How to Fix Cove Joint Seepage 

Moisture infiltration and water seepage can hurt your home. You must repair the leak before things get out of hand. 

While many waterproofing companies recommend sealing cove joints, expert builders discourage this for many reasons. Covering the cove joint seepage does more damage than good. It works for some homeowners, but it’s only a temporary solution. 

One problem with covering the cove joint is that it increases hydrostatic pressure when the water table changes. After some time, the walls may not be able to contain the pressure. The walls will give in and water will start infiltrating your home or building. 

Another thing that might happen when you seal the cove joint is that water might find its way into the basement through a different opening. Sometimes water will slowly penetrate the sealant through its opening, rendering it useless. 

What’s the Best Solution? 

While there are many ways to stop water seepage, the main one involves installing a proper drainage system to prevent the buildup of hydrostatic pressure. What this does is keep water, including rainwater spill-offs from the gutters, far away from your house’s foundation. 

An interior drainage system will come in handy in keeping water away from the basement. This system placed just under the basement floor stops water infiltration and direct the water away from the cove joint. The water won’t accumulate and cause hydrostatic pressure. 

Installing a sump pump is another effective deterrent as it pushes the water collected from the interior drainage system out through the discharge line instead of letting it seep through the cove joint. Regrading your yard to create a slope can help improve drainage. You can ask your local landscaper to help you out. 

Exterior drains also work well in channeling water into the home from the outside. This method creates a negative pressure that stops water from reaching the floors or the drains. This exterior waterproofing for cove joint seepage provides a permanent solution but can be expensive. 

If you’d like to waterproof your basement or foundation to stop water infiltration, contact JES Foundation Repair. We’ll provide you with a free waterproofing inspection and quote, along with recommendations on how to fix your water issues.