Warming Weather Could Put You At Risk for Snowmelt Flooding!

By:    |   Published January 25, 2018
Suburban home surrounded by moderate snowfall.

Weather can be unpredictable. One moment it’s snowing, the next it feels like spring. While many long for warmer temperatures throughout the bulk of winter, it’s important to appreciate the risk that rapid rises in temperature can cause to your home. Your joy of the warm, sunny day may evaporate the moment you notice the snowmelt flooding your basement.

What Causes Snowmelt Flooding?

During the snowiest part of the season, snow can pile up inches or feet. As these piles grow and the temperatures remain low, most of the moisture stays put while new snow continues to fall. Compared to rainstorms, where precipitation may soak the ground over a period of hours, snow tends to melt all at once.

On a particularly warm day, a week’s worth of snow or more can suddenly begin to melt, forcing water to the saturated earth. When the snow around your home melts, and the ground is already saturated with water, it will begin to seep into any open spaces in your home.

The large volume of water combined with shifting soil during freeze and thaw cycles can lead to your basement being quickly filled with a surprisingly amount of flood water.

The Risks of Snowmelt Flooding in Your Basement

Like any flooding, snowmelt entering your basement puts you at risk for two major types of damage to your home:

Structural Damage

An abundance of water pressing against your home will eventually lead to cracks in your foundation and possibly a complete breach. Once structural damage begins, it will worsen exponentially until fully repaired. Over time, your home can become so weakened by foundation damage that it becomes a safety risk to live in.

In addition to damage to your foundation, water seeping into your home puts various aspects of your interior at risk. Electrical wiring and circuits aren’t meant to be exposed to water. Likewise, pipes and floorboards can begin to suffer damage or contamination from flowing ground water.

Any time your basement has been flooded, you should take immediate steps to clear and clean the area.

Mold Growth

A common side-effect of moisture in your home is mold. These invasive growths can spread quickly and cause damage before you even realize they’re there. Once mold has begun to take hold in your basement, you’ll start to notice obvious signs:

  • Visible mold
  • Musty smell
  • Allergic reactions

Unfortunately, even finding the mold won’t be enough to reverse the problem. When you clean visible mold growth, you’re just removing the surface. More mold exists closer to the source of moisture, which will allow it to return and continue to grow.

The only way to deal with mold is to cut off its source. Waterproofing your basement is the only guaranteed protection from mold – as it only takes a miniscule amount of water to feed small growths.

How to Protect Your Home from Melting Snow

Clear & Repair Your Gutters

Gutters and downspout clogged with snow, creating an ice dam

Your gutters and downspouts are your first line of defense against any rain or snow. When they’re damaged or clogged with debris, they can’t function correctly. Overflowing water from your gutters, or built-up ice creating a dam, will allow water to reach your home right along the foundation.

This is one of the most common ways that homes started to suffer foundation damage. It’s important to regularly inspect your gutters and downspouts to ensure that they’re clear and in good repair.

You can also measure your downspout to make sure that it’s discharging water far away from your foundation, ideally somewhere that will properly drain moisture away from your home. If the downspout drains into graded terrain that draws water back to your home, it’s no help to you.

Shovel Around Your Home

During the frigid days of the year, you may be tempted to swiftly shovel your driveway and run back inside to hide from the cold. Don’t forget about the snow along your home! While it’s easy to ignore, this is the snow that’s most likely to seep into your home during a melt.

Ideally, you should aim to clear a space of about five feet away from your home. Outside of extreme snowfalls, that should be more than enough to distance the melting snow from your house. It won’t stop all of the moisture from reaching your foundation, but it will dramatically decrease the chances of that moisture breaching the wall or causing damage.

Watch for Signs of Moisture & Moisture Damage

Once moisture begins to wear against the interior of your home, structural damage is soon to follow. There are many types of foundation damage that you can encounter, none of which are good for your home:

  • Doors will be unable to shut properly
  • Cracked bricks in the foundation
  • Interior foundation cracks that leak water
  • Increasing gaps between your walls, floor and ceiling
  • Sloping ground
  • Visible mold growths
  • Moldy or musty odors

Chance are, if you identify one or more of these symptoms, you have a basement leak problem. If you can’t spot the source, schedule a professional inspection. The longer you wait, the more potential damage your house may suffer.

Repair Existing Foundation Cracks

Foundation cracks are not something to take lightly. Major breaches in your foundation often begin as barely noticeable cracks. Without intervention, they will quickly spread until your home requires major foundation repair.

Keep an eye out for signs of foundation cracks and get them repaired immediately. You can repair hairline cracks yourself with just a little DIY knowledge and the right materials. For anything more serious, you’ll want to contact Team EverDry.

Don’t Trust a Sump Pump without a Backup Battery

Without a sump pump, your home is extremely vulnerable to any amount of encroaching moisture. But even if you have a sump pump, what good is it if your power goes out? It’s not unusual for a particularly fierce winter to bring ice along with snow – and ice can quickly knock out your power.

Once there’s a crack in your foundation, it doesn’t take long for water to begin pouring in. In a bad storm, your home can take on almost 100 gallons of water in minutes. A full day of melting snow can be a disaster for your basement if your sump pump fails to turn on.

A battery backup for your sump pump like the SmartPower Battery Backup is all it takes to keep it working even during power loss. Not only will it automatically turn on when power is lost, it can run intermittently for up to eight days!

4 Basement Waterproofing Options Info Graphic

Schedule Your FREE 20-Point Inspection

The best way to keep your basement dry is with professional waterproofing. EverDry Toledo can help with a FREE 20-point basement inspection! We’ll help you find out if your home is at risk for water damage and which solutions will best serve you.

Contact us online to schedule an appointment or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 and schedule your inspection today!

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