Pothole season is coming, and while it may cause concern for your daily commute, it could also mean trouble for your home. The same freeze-thaw cycle that puts asphalt at risk can cause structural damage to your home’s foundation. Frost heaving – the term used for soil movement caused by the freeze-thaw cycle – can leave cracks in your basement walls and floor. If left unchecked, this problem could pave the way for water seepage.
Although you may never see it, the foundation of a home is a vital aspect to its strength and stability. A proper foundation does more than keep your house above ground: It should also keep out moisture, insulate against the cold and resist movement of the ground surrounding it. There are many factors to consider, such as drainage around your house and soil condition, to help avoid a cracked foundation. The type of soil can have a big impact on the quality and lifespan of your home’s foundation.
Your gutter system is one of the most important parts of your home. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most common things that homeowners forget about until there’s a problem. Don’t let out of sight be out of mind – when your gutter isn’t functioning correctly, it could mean major damage! While waterproofing your basement is a good start, damaged gutters can affect your home’s siding and even the roof if not corrected in time.
Your basement is unique to the rest of your home due to the fact it’s surrounded by the ground. When it rains, the water doesn’t just sit above ground. The ground soaks it up thanks to gravity, and the water works its way below the surface. So now you can imagine your foundation being completely surrounded by not only the ground, but water. The good news is, you’re not the only one dealing with water in the basement after heavy rain. The bad news is that it is an issue, but we’ll show you how you can solve it!
Inspect Your Roof
Water enters your home either from above or below. While a large portion of homeowners experience surprise water damage from their foundation, it’s worth checking your roof to look for potential spring water damage risks.
An easy way to inspect the roof to find damaged, loose, or missing shingles is to use a pair of binoculars. If you see loose or broken shingles, fix those as soon as possible to protect your home from leaks. Check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys, too. Any gap in your roof can let water in which can lead to issues like mold.
While you’re checking your roof, you should also pay close attention to the gutters. It’s hard to overstate the value of gutters to protecting your home investment! They are one of the first lines of defense against rainwater
The decomposed leaves and twigs that nature leaves behind after winter may be worse than those in your gutter during the summer months. Pull leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts. Reattach gutters that have pulled away from the house. Run a hose on the roof and check for proper drainage. If leaks exist, dry the area and use caulking or epoxy to seal the leak.
You can even look at adding extensions to downspouts to carry water away from your home’s foundation. This is important when your downspouts aren’t depositing gutter water far enough away. If your gutters are in perfect working condition but eject the water straight into the ground near your foundation, you may as well not have gutters at all!
Look for Foundation Cracks
A cracked foundation is often the result of frost heaves – soil movement caused by the freeze-thaw cycle – which can leave cracks in your basement walls and floor. Frost heave is particularly common in our area of Toledo, Ohio and the surrounding cities due to how unpredictable the weather can be throughout the winter and even into spring.
If the cracks are less than a nickel-width wide, you can take the following steps to minimize further damage:
- Replace the soil surrounding your foundation with more porous alternatives such as gravel and/or fill sand, which is a blend of sand, soil, and clay.
- Add a drainage system at the base of a foundation, like a French drain, to drain the water away.
- Dig top-level and subterranean reservoirs to redirect water away from your home’s foundation.
- Insulate your home’s foundation to minimize heat loss between the foundation and the surrounding soil. When heat transfers to the surrounding soil through foundation walls, it enhances the freeze-thaw cycle.
- Make sure your gutters are in good working order and drain rainwater at a sufficient distance away from your house – at least 6 to 8 feet.
If the cracks are large or extensive, have the foundation professionally inspected and repaired.
Replace Caulk & Weather Stripping Around Windows & Doors
Houses will frequently settle over time. This happens when the soil beneath the home shifts, often due to changing moisture when the area below or around the foundation experiences major intake of water. This settling can sometimes be identified by looking at door or window frames for unusual gaps that didn’t exist before – or look worse than they used to.
If the gap around a door or window is wider than a nickel, you need to reapply exterior caulk to keep your home energy bill down and the insects out. Check window-glazing putty, too, which seals glass into the window frame. You can add weather stripping around doors too, making sure that you can’t see any daylight from inside your home.
Take a Close Look at Your Driveway & Sidewalks for Cracks and Heaves
Broken concrete or asphalt is more than just an eyesore. It’s a tripping hazard that can lead to painful results. Fix any breakdown in concrete or asphalt before it worsens. You can patch or fill surface cracks, chips or flaking in concrete yourself using cement-repair products. For deeper cracks, settling or sunken concrete, or frost heaves, call a professional.
Evaluate Your Grading
Lawn grading isn’t something most homeowners think about that frequently. But you should! The ideal grading should start with a slope away from your home. Moisture that seeps into the ground still behaves similarly to how you might expect it to on the surface. If your grading is perfectly flat, or even worse, sloping into your foundation, you could be allowing extra moisture to start pressing against your foundation. This is a common cause of significant spring water damage to your home.
Small grading solutions can often be simple. For more serious ones, you may need a major regrading of the area – or you may want to look at investments like a full drainage system as part of a
new waterproofing system
Fortunately, basement flooding in the winter is something you can fight back against. Read on to learn how to minimize the risks and keep your basement dry for the rest of this winter and beyond!
Tips to Fight Back Against Basement Flooding in Winter
It’s much easier and more cost effective to prepare your home for potential winter flooding than it is to deal with the emergencies that can come after. Before the snow hits, follow the Team EverDry winter checklist to make sure that you’re prepared.
Inspect Your Basement for Cracks
Concrete in your basement foundations tends to crack over time, and large cracks can lead to water seeping into your basement. These cracks can form from hydrostatic pressure, small shifts in the soil under your home, or many other small reasons that add up over the years.
Before the weather turns cold and wet, check your basement walls for any significant cracks. While small hairline fractures are hard to avoid, you want to pay attention to any crack that’s more significant than a small line – especially if you notice one growing since the last time you saw it! Repair any that you find by drying the crack, scrubbing out any loose concrete, and filling them with epoxy crack sealer.
If you’re not a DIY type, EverDry Toledo can help protect your home with foundation crack injections that will seal the gap to help stop moisture from getting in.
Clean Your Gutters
The value of healthy, functional gutters is something that many homeowners underestimate. They’re on the front line when it comes to defending your home from rain or snow moisture right against the foundation. Working gutters should be capable of capturing any melting snow on your roof and running it far enough from your foundation that it won’t add to pressure that may lead to cracking.
If your gutters have debris in them, it could cause problems like ice dams. These ice dams will let melting snow overflow from the side of the gutters, falling straight down onto the vulnerable sides of your home. The longer this is allowed to happen, the higher your chances of experience basement flooding in the winter.
Clear the Snow
Shoveling snow can feel like a punishment. But it’s a necessary part of keeping your property clear and safe. But when you’re done clearing the driveway, there’s still more to shovel!
Each time you go out to clear snow from your property, don’t forget to check the sides of your home. Snow that’s pressed up near the foundation of your home will eventually melt; the snow melt may happen quickly, putting a lot of pressure on the exterior of your basement.
You don’t need to completely remove the snow. Just do your best to clear a foot or two away from your foundation. This will go a long way towards preventing moisture buildup around your home and to the fight against winter basement flooding!
Protect Your Pipes
It’s no surprise that one of the most common causes of basement flooding in winter involves frozen pipes. Once a pipe experiences a freeze, it will suffer internal pressure that’s looking for a way to get out. Often times, the “escape” for moisture inside a frozen pipe will be bursting inside your basement. The biggest concern? You may not catch it right away!
Water damage happens fast. It only takes minutes to cause thousands of dollars of damage. And the last thing you want in the freezing cold is a lake of ice in your basement!
You can prevent pipe freezing from happening in your home. Take these precautions, especially if the forecast calls for severely cold weather overnight:
- Wrap your pipes with pipe wrap
- Consider a pipe warmer if your home frequently has frozen pipe issues
- Turn faucets on to let a very small drip of warm water out overnight
- Open cabinets in vanities or under your sink to allow the warmer air in your home to reach some of your pipes (Please note to only do this if it’s safe. Many homeowners keep these cabinets closed or locked to prevent animals or children from reaching cleaning chemicals or other dangerous home items!)
Inspect Your Sump Pump
If your home has a sump pump, it needs to stay functional to prevent an overflowing of water into your home. Winter snow melt will eventually lead to an excess of moisture finding its way into your home, so you’ll want your sump pump ready and able to push that water back out of your home.
One unique winter issue for sump pumps is the water in the pump basin freezing over. Keep an eye on your pump and look for issues that may indicate
sump pump failure
Winter here in the Midwest means cold weather, ice, and snow. While this can be great for winter sports like skiing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling, those dropping temperatures outside generally create dropping humidity levels inside.
Your home is your refuge. It’s where your family is, your favorite things, and is where you return to rest every night. A home should be a space that’s safe for you, your family and even your pets! But millions across the world are affected by homes that may be worsening their health due to unseen threats that combine to create what is known as toxic house syndrome.
Owning a home comes with many expenses – some planned, some unplanned. When it comes to protecting your foundation, you may wonder “is basement waterproofing worth it” or should you gamble and wait to repair issues as they happen?
The beauty of a fresh blanket of new-fallen snow can transform a city street or a country hillside into a winter wonderland. The snowflakes drifting from the sky and landing silently on treetops and rooftops can give us a peaceful feeling as we take in the scene. But beware the dangers that these snowfalls can bring with them. Not all snowfalls are peaceful, and the aftermath of a foot of snow can be a ton of water damage and basement disaster.