Many homeowners understand how spring’s heavy rains can impact a house’s foundation, but fewer know just how harmful the winter season can be. Dropping temperatures, frost, and fallen or melted snow are a recipe for disaster if your foundation isn’t properly protected against cold conditions. By following a few simple steps and knowing what damages to look for, you can keep your foundation dry in the winter season.
The Effect Winter Weather Can Have on Your Foundation
Throughout the winter, snow is constantly falling and melting, which creates an excess of water on your property. If water isn’t effectively draining away from your house, standing water can seep into your foundation’s walls and create cracks. An increase in moisture also causes soil to expand and contract, which can force your foundation upward in a process called heaving, or lead to bowing walls as a result of undue pressure.
Frozen and broken pipes can also potentially impact your house’s foundation.With temperatures averaging 30° and below throughout the winter, pipes that are not properly insulated can burst and cause flooding. Similar to the effect of melted snow, heavy amounts of water can seep into existing foundation cracks or cause soil to expand and put pressure on your foundation.
Steps to Prevent Winter Weather from Damaging Your Foundation
Understanding the impact winter weather can have on your foundation can make the season seem daunting. This doesn’t have to be the case. We’ve provided a list of steps you can follow to prevent foundation damage before it occurs.
- Inspect your house’s foundation before snow and ice hits. Look for cracks in your basement walls and signs of bowing – walls leaning at the top or sliding at the bottom – to make sure your foundation is prepared for the winter ahead.
- Keep your gutters clear and operating smoothly. Check your gutters and downspouts regularly to see if water is properly draining through them. Clogs or misdirected spouts can fail to dispense drainage away from your property and cause standing water.
- Direct snow and water away from your house. When snow blowing or shoveling, ensure you’re directing snow away from your house to avoid it melting and seeping into your foundation.
- Check unused pipes and irrigation lines. To avoid freezing and bursting pipes, confirm that water is turned off and not running through pipes or irrigation systems that are not being used in the winter season.
- Winterize or waterproof your basement. As an additional precaution, consider waterproofing your basement to keep out unwanted standing water. You can also winterize your windows by sealing any cracks that could let water inside.
What to Do When Winter Weather Damages Your Foundation
If you notice that your foundation has been damaged by the winter weather, your first course of action should be to consult a professional. Do not try to fix cracks, bowing walls, or heaving by yourself, as doing so can lead to more repair costs down the road.
At Kent Foundation Repair, we provide a free on-site consultation and quote before any work is done, and recommend you seek out a provider who is willing to diagnose your issue prior to charging for services. For additional insight into winter weather’s impact on foundation, and questions you may have, feel free to contact us.