Winter has been relatively mild. After winter will come spring. With that, flowers will bloom, the sun will start shining, and the snow will melt. Of these things, the third is not entirely positive. If you’re unprepared, melting snow can inflict serious damage to your home’s foundation.
There is no denying how powerful a force water can be. Fast melting snow, extremely heavy rain, and other aspects of this element’s force can be destructive. However, you can prepare for most snow-related issues with some basic home maintenance and smart planning. You’ll be able to enjoy the spring weather outdoors instead of worrying about costly repairs.
It Begins With Understanding Risk to Your Foundation
When the ice and snow on the roof start melting, the water can only flow downward. It will collect around the house foundation if your downspouts and gutters can’t direct it away from the building safely because they are broken or clogged. If the site doesn’t have the right grading, melting snow on the ground will be directed toward the foundation.
If your foundation is cracked, this can cause major issues. Melting snow will flow into the basement causing mould, water damage, and more. Here are the steps to take to reduce the risk of a complication and make sure your house is safe.
Obviously, the slope of your house’s site should incline away from it, because if it doesn’t, the melting snow will seep into the foundation. Water collecting around the house is a clear sign of a slope problem that must be dealt with urgently. Ideally, the slope of the property should be at least five degrees downward.
Quality landscapers always design space in a way that water will flow away from the home. However, even if your drainage is top notch, a harsh winter can move the earth grade around the house, changing the slope so that it’s now in the direction of the foundation.
Functioning Gutters and Downspouts
It’s best to check drain systems and gutters around the home in the fall, before it starts to snow. They should be free from dirt, leaves, or other debris and be kept clear and clean. To make sure water is flowing away from the foundation, follow the path of water. If it isn’t, you might need to add an extra drain. The area around the spout should be clear once it begins to snow so it doesn’t get clogged by ice or snow.
While it’s not impossible to make these improvements in the winter, it’s better to do it sooner. Inspect the gutters and spouts again in spring because the weight of snow or ice or windy weather might have inflicted new damage.
Your house’s exterior is an interconnected system. The melted snow flows off the roof, through the gutters, and onto the ground. If there is a snow or ice layer melting by the home under the eaves, this effect becomes even more pronounced. Always try to make sure your downspouts and gutters are moving melted snow to the public drainage system effectively.
To remove ice and snow from gutters, you can use sodium chloride (salt). It’s best to route downspouts at least 20 feet away from the building. The area, to which they’re routed must be very well-drained to stop water runoff from seeping through cracks in the foundation.
Inspecting Your Foundation for Cracks
Even the tiniest crack can be cause for concern. Cracks in the foundation or around window wells will magnify all of the issues with sloping, downspouts, and gutters described above. Moreover, hydrostatic pressure will be exerted on the foundation as water seeps into the soil around the house, potentially flooding the basement.
To avoid this issue, inspect your basement walls for cracks. Check the drywall for any discoloration, warping, or unexpected condensation. These are all signs of moisture problems.
Of all the spaces at risk of flooding in a home, the basement is highest. Water finds its way through cracks in floors, walls, and windows as well.
Have a Functioning Sump Pump
You need to have a sump pump to drain the water from your house immediately should it accumulate there. If you have a water leak, a sump pump can be indispensable. It will stop water from pooling in the basement. However, such equipment is far from foolproof. For one thing, it needs electricity to run. Since power outages and flooding frequently go hand in hand, it’s necessary to invest in a backup source of power supply.
To make sure the pump is operating properly, you need to inspect and test it regularly. Some sump pumps come with an alarm that will indicate a deficiency.
Move Snow Away From the House
Snow and water have a ratio of ten percent. In other words, 10 inches of water of every 100 inches of snow cover will run off. The runoff from melting snow may cause the soil to erode around the house if you leave snow around the foundation or on the roof. Even if it’s just by a few feet, do move snow away from the home. This will reduce the risks as long as you’re moving it to a properly drained area with a downward grade.
Most people pile snow by their houses in winter. That’s okay as long as you move it away from the foundation with the arrival of spring.
Check Window Wells
Windows that you can open and that are below grade are not safe because they are not sealed. Water will seep into the home if you have too much pooling near and over the bottom of a basement window.
If you’re overwhelmed by water despite having taken preventative measures, you’ll find a backup plan very handy. Establish a Plan B ahead of time. You need to know how to use a sump pump and be prepared to borrow, rent, or purchase one at any time if you don’t have one now. Install pallets to keep belongings off the floor if there is a storage room in your basement.
Do you have one or more neighbors you can trust? Ask them to inspect the basement now and then if you plan to be away from home, be it on a business trip or on vacation.
Be Ready to Address the Problem
The job must be done right the first time around. To this end, working with a reputable, professional waterproofing contractor is of paramount importance. Peace of mind is very valuable. Professionals like Foundation First are committed to ensuring safety and satisfaction. A safe and healthy home is a happy one. With our help, you’ll make it through the snow and embrace nature’s awakening come spring.
Talk to us
Concerned about snow melt and your home’s foundation? Contact us for a free consultation.