Foundation Repair in the Winter

Winter can be a very dangerous season for your home’s foundation. Extreme weather can inflict great damage on it, especially wet and cold weather combined.

This article explains all the main causes of foundation damage in winter and repair tips. We also clarify how to recognize the red flags and when to call a foundation repair company for help.

Water weight

Water accumulates in the soil around your foundation, resulting in what’s known as hydrostatic pressure. This makes water seep through the pores in the walls, pushing inward on them, moving and causing damage, and driving even more water through them. Wall cracks and bowing are two common effects of hydrostatic pressure.

If your wall has diagonal, step-like, or horizontal cracks, hydrostatic pressure could be the cause. Check your basement for new cracks or old ones that have widened.

Other warning signs that you might have overwhelming pressure include cracks that look like they’re bulging or lopsided ones with one side pushed in. This can happen if there is bowing.

Rain and sleet cause erosion

Two more common causes of erosion in your yard are rain and sleet. When water flows down from the eaves, it can erode the soil, exposing the foundation to the elements.

Yards should slope away from the foundation to direct water away. However, erosion can change that grade. Erosion is very likely to occur if your home’s gutters are twisted or misplaced and the water practically cascades down freely. Have a professional inspect your gutters for missing sections and make sure they are not overflowing.

The soil around the foundation can be eroded by water from the downspout. To prevent this, make sure your downspouts carry it a few feet into the yard. You can have extensions added if this isn’t the case with your downspouts.

Freeze-thaw cycles

Cycles of freezing and thawing, which are quite common in winter, cause driveway and foundation damage. Concrete absorbs water, which freezes and expands. Then, the concrete cracks under pressure. The damage is worsened through subsequent cycles.

Water gets inside the cracks and freezes. They get wider, and the foundation’s integrity is weakened. When it gets warmer, things get worse. As the ice melts, the water flows into the house.


Heavy snow can pile up around the foundation, leading to flooding. The snow fills the gaps where the soil is compressed. When it melts, it exerts pressure on the basement walls. They crack, and water seeps into the house.

Recognizing Warning Signs

Common warning signs of foundation settling or damage include bowed or leaning basement walls, sloping or uneven garage or basement floors, a leaning or tilted chimney, cracks in foundation walls, or interior drywall or plaster wall cracks.

Leaning or bowing interior or exterior walls can be a sign of damage. Watch for gaps in windows and doors, cracks in the mortar, and alignment problems. If water leaks into the house often, your foundation might be sinking.

Steps to take

Your sump pump, which directs water away from the house, might need repairing. Always have a backup for the battery in winter, when power outages are more common. A properly operating sump pump can prevent costly foundation repair in winter.

If you allow sump pump water to pool and freeze, the pump will stop working and maybe even become permanently damaged. A professional can check to see if your discharge line has been placed as it should be. It should be on a downward slope, keeping water from pooling and freezing.

It is necessary to clean gutters on a regular basis. If they are blocked, water will flow into your basement and compromise the foundation. It will enter the walls and cause mildew, mold, and other costly damage. Always shovel snow away from the foundation in winter. Never leave it resting by your house. Piles of snow are a disaster waiting to strike.

Basement underpinning

Basement underpinning is a way to add more space without making expensive build-ons to your home. Foundation repair specialists use this approach to increase a foundation’s depth. They erect new footings beneath the already existing ones. Homeowners go for underpinning if they want to add another entrance to a below-grade house or fortify existing footings.

Basement waterproofing

This measure can be taken at any time of year, but spring and fall are the best seasons for it. You need to have your basement waterproofed if there is a crack in your foundation wall. Water can seep through this crack, leaving you with a mess. By waterproofing your basement, you can keep it free of moisture apart from fixing the crack.

Signs of water damage indicate that your basement requires waterproofing. If you notice cracks, bowing, puddles, damp spots, peeling paint, or warped paneling, this might mean there is water in your home.

Having your foundation inspected regularly is a good way to check if there is a leak or a crack. You can inspect it once a month and after a major change in temperature or heavy rainfall. If your basement has been finished, this may be more difficult. To check for moisture, in this case, pull back the panels or lift the carpet.

The impact of weather

If the temperature is below zero, the repair crew might have to postpone basement waterproofing due to safety reasons. Interior underpinning is unaffected by the weather. Still, there are benefits of basement waterproofing or underpinning in winter. One is that you will wait less time. You can beat the springtime rush and get started with your repairs even now. This is highly recommended if you have established damage to your basement foundation. It will not go away on its own. You will keep having problems and suffering further damage. This damage will reduce your property’s value and be expensive to repair.

If you suspect your home’s foundation has been damaged, contact Foundations First. We repair foundations in Hamilton, Peel, Brantford, Paris, Cambridge, Kitchener, Binbrook, Guelph, and Waterloo. Contact us by phone or email, or use the online appointment request form to make an appointment.