Can Snow Damage Your Home’s Foundation?
Snow-the word evokes different thoughts and emotions. Some folks picture a Currier & Ives print of a happy couple riding along in a one horse open sleigh, while others see snow as a real nuisance. Sitting in a warm house by the fire while watching the snow drift silently down can be delightful. Shoveling the driveway and sidewalks-not so much.
One thing that most homeowners don’t realize is that snow can be a danger to a home’s foundations, especially if they’ve neglected to protect it from the severe weather. Severe weather can affect your home in a number of different ways, and if you understand the potential damage winter weather can cause, you can take steps to protect your foundation.
Cold Air and Drying Soil
Winter brings extreme cold air, and that cold air happens to be very dry. The dry air tends to pull moisture from the soil around your home, and the dry soil can crack and pull away from your foundation. This can be very damaging since the soil around your foundation helps to support it.
Eventually, snow melts. As it does, it rehydrates the soil around your home, causing it to swell. As it swells, it exerts hydrostatic pressure against your foundation. In severe cases, this pressure can cause your foundation walls to crack, bow, or even collapse.
If your home is built over crawlspace, snow melt can creep into the unsealed entry points of your foundation. A buildup of excess moisture in your crawlspace can cause mold, pests, and rotting floor joists.
Freezing, Thawing, Refreezing
In temperate climates, winter weather can be quite changeable, with freezing temperatures one day and warmer sunny conditions the next. Melting snow can cause water to leak into cracks in your foundation. When the next cold snap comes along, that water can refreeze, expand as it does, and make the existing cracks even worse. This pattern of freezing, thawing, and refreezing can be very stressful for your foundation.
Once you have cracks in your foundation, its inevitable that water will try to get in. Whether it’s snow melt, the water table, or flooding from raining, your crawlspace or basement is likely to get wet. Even a minor flood can wreak havoc on your foundation. If you use your basement for additional living space, or as a storage area, flooding can destroy a huge amount of your property. If your crawlspace floods, water can have a significant effect on the foundation and can damage any plumbing or electrical or HVAC equipment down there.
The issues described so far are serious but can be averted with some preventive maintenance.
Add Some Foundation Support
In some situations, the problem you’re having is that the dirt around your foundation is pushing too hard on the walls of the foundation. This pressure can increase to a point where the foundation can bow, crack, or actually crumble in on itself. The installation of wall anchors can sometimes mitigate the worry of the foundation collapsing, even if the dirt is pressing in dramatically.
Replace the Soil
You may need to completely replace the soil around your foundation. This would be the case if you have extremely expansive soils around the foundation. In this scenario, foundation experts would remove the soil and fill in with a better soil, more suited to your climate conditions.
If your basement regularly has water issues, waterproofing can really help. By installing an interior drainage system and sump pump, you can keep the water safely out of your basement. The use of vapor barriers and dehumidifiers can also help if you have ongoing issues like mold or mildew.
If you have a crawlspace and it’s not sealed, you’re inviting water and pests to come in. Moist air and water can enter the crawlspace and this moisture needs to be held back. The best way of doing this is by encapsulating the crawl space. This involves a team of professionals laying down a polyethylene plastic vapor barrier over the crawl space floor and walls.
Although freshly fallen snow can be quite beautiful, it can have a seriously detrimental effect upon your home’s foundation. It’s incumbent on homeowners to be aware of this and to initiate a consistent maintenance plan. The best way to start is to call in a professional foundation expert. They can carefully inspect your foundation, diagnose any problems, and map out a strategy to mitigate existing damage and prevent further problems in the future.
Let Us Help!
Water in your basement or crawlspace can lead to much larger problems that affect your health and your home. Foundation repair is not a DIY job but requires expertise and experience.
Budget Waterproofing has been the leader in basement waterproofing in Maryland for over 30 years. As your local leader in basement waterproofing, we offer numerous services to help keep your basement or crawl space dry. We have proven over the years that our waterproofing methods not only look good and do the job, but also last. Our knowledgeable and experienced technicians utilize the right tools no matter the size or scope of the basement project.
For additional information regarding our services, call us at 410-609-1240.