Frozen pipes are one of those household issues that many of us underestimate until it’s too late. As winter approaches, water in your home’s piping system is at risk of freezing, causing significant inconvenience and, potentially, catastrophic damage. This article will guide you on how to prevent frozen pipes and save your home from the aftermath.
As we wave goodbye to the summer sun and welcome the crisp air of fall, one thing that comes with the season is its characteristic rains. While the sound of rain against the windows can be comforting, it can also be a cause for concern if your home isn’t adequately prepared. The basement, in particular, needs special attention to protect against potential water damage. Moisture and water can pose significant risks to your home’s foundation, leading to an array of costly and inconvenient problems down the line.
When it comes to basement wall crack repair, there are many techniques to try, but which one should you try? And how do you know when to call an expert?
Do you have a basement that gets damp, smells musty, or has visible water stains? Water seepage in basements is a common problem that affects many homeowners. While it may seem like a minor inconvenience, it can actually lead to serious issues such as mold growth, structural damage, and even health problems. In this blog post, we will explore the causes of water seepage in basements and provide tips on how to fix it.
Types of Soil
Soil shifts and moves over time often as a result of how it handles moisture and the climate — including the freeze / thaw cycle. As soil shifts, it changes the support around your foundation, which can lead to cracks. And it’s those cracks that can allow in moisture and maybe even some pests.
Each type of soil is comprised of different properties that have various effects on the bedrock of a home. Soil with good structure is going to be more stable. The way in which soil handles wetting and drying cycles is also an important consideration, as expanding soil can put unwanted pressure on foundations and soil that retains too much moisture can cause the foundation to weaken.
Here are the most common types of soil and how they measure up:
Peat: Usually dark in color, peat is easily compactable because it holds a great deal of water, which makes it prone to shifting. This is not ideal soil for a foundation.
Clay: Because it’s made up of tiny particles, clay shrinks significantly when dry and expands when it’s moist. The extreme changes can put pressure on the foundation, which opens the door to potential cracks.
Silt: Usually smooth to the touch, this type of soil tends to retain water longer and drains poorly. This can push against and weaken foundations when wet.
Sand / Gravel: A better choice than peat, clay or silt, sand / gravel drains easily and does not retain moisture because it’s made up of larger particles. However, when wet, these particles can be washed away leaving gaps around the foundation.
Loam: Typically, a combination of sand, silt and clay, loam is an ideal soil type for supporting foundations, as it is able to maintain water at a balanced rate.
Rock: The strength and stability of rock makes it a great choice for foundations. However, it can be difficult to dig into, and homeowners should be sure the rock is level before constructing the foundation.
Effects of Drainage Around Your House on Your Foundation
So, what exactly happens when you have poor drainage around the house? More than you might think! Keeping your foundation safe is paramount to protecting your home and everyone in it. Here are some of the effects that constant, unmanaged drainage can have on your property:
Moving water affects anything it touches, which includes the soil around your home. The more drainage there is, the more erosion that will happen. Over time, that erosion will cause a significant amount of soil to be displaced.
Because your foundation was built with that soil around the home, any loss can cause shifting and reduce its overall support from the environment around it. The longer this erosion goes, the weaker your foundation becomes due to cracks and further shifting.
In addition to being displaced, soil also absorbs moisture. Depending on the type of soil around your home, its level of expansiveness can vary. The more expansive it is, the more risk your home is at when drainage is left uncontrolled.
Certain soils can absorb a great deal of moisture, expanding significantly. This puts pressure on your foundation and can quickly lead to cracks and shifting.
Soil expansion is a threat that can’t be completely eliminated. However, reducing drainage to the soil goes a long way to mitigating how much expanding it can do. Waterproofing around your foundation can often be the only way to prevent problems if you have soil with high potential for expansion.
We like to think of concrete as sturdy and reliable. While that is true, the properties of concrete aren’t exactly what you may expect. Primarily – did you know it’s porous? All those holes in concrete are susceptible to incoming moisture – and it’s common for most homes to experience absorption.
In small amounts, this absorption isn’t a major problem. The moisture enters in small amounts and can evaporate. But in home foundations with poor drainage issues, the constant assault of moisture means the concrete keeps absorbing more and more.
Over time, this water breaks down the concrete and leads to cracks. Those cracks weaken the foundation, and continue to grow unless dealt with. One ignored crack in your foundation is all it takes to lead to leaks and eventually major damage!
Improving Drainage Around Your House
Whether your home is resting on stable or not-so-stable soil, water drainage is an important part of maintaining the life of a foundation. Poor drainage can cause problems like water in the basement or structural damage, while proper surface drainage can lead moisture away from your home ultimately protecting the precious foundation. Here are some things you can do to ensure better drainage.
Roof gutters and downspouts: Gutters should be kept free of debris and direct water to downspouts that carry it away from the foundation. Be sure they’re draining at least six feet away from the home — downspout extensions can help!
Sufficient grading: Check to see if dirt is graded away from the home. Housing codes have various requirements, but it’s helpful if the ground slopes away from the foundation for a distance of eight feet or more.
Basement windows: Sometimes debris and water can collect near basement windows, so be sure to provide adequate drainage to the foundation drain.
Sump pumps remove excess water from around your basement and are best for minor amounts of groundwater. Ensure your sump pump is in good, working condition and consider a battery back-up.
Install foundation drains: This repair consists of removing portions of existing basement slab, installing new drains directing water to a sump pump and then installing new slab. Learn more about
basement waterproofing options
If walking in your basement is best done with an umbrella, you have a problem! Water condensation drops on your basement ceiling is a sure sign you are in need of help in controlling basement humidity. Not all basement humidity issues are as obvious as “rain” in your basement, but controlling basement humidity is important for your home’s foundational health as well as the health of you and your family.
Whether it is heavy rains, spring thawing after deep winter snow, or even a plumbing fiasco, too much water can put you in the position of incurring flooded basement cleanup costs. Knowing that it is likely you will have to deal with excess water in your basement at some point is a good reason to invest in waterproofing your foundation.
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.
Searching for a house can be exciting and, at times, overwhelming. Once you finally find “the one,” the last thing you want is to discover that you are the proud new owner of a house with water damage. Buying a house with water damage can be a nightmare, especially if you are unaware of the damage prior to the purchase. The following tips can help you be an informed buyer and avoid unknowingly buying a house with water damage.
You flip the light switch and start down the basement stairs. Suddenly you freeze like a deer in headlights. The reflection of the basement light glares up at you off the several inches, or feet, of water covering everything in your basement. Your heart pounds in your ears and your stomach churns. Panic-stricken you turn the light off, wait a moment, and turn it back on. No, it’s not a dream, this is real – a real nightmare. Your basement is flooded.