Living in the Midwest, we are no strangers to cold, harsh winters, but that’s not the only drawback to winter here. The cold temperatures also affect your home’s foundation and may compromise its structural integrity. Here are just a few ways a harsh winter can affect your home:
Frost heave is a condition that causes a foundation to move upwards, leading to structural damage. When the temperature drops below freezing, moisture in the soil beneath a home freezes and expands. Soil expansion causes pressure on the foundation above it and causes an upheaval movement. This movement can cause cracks in the walls, floors, and ceilings, leading to further damage.
This may happen in older homes that do not have a basement or a crawlspace, or with the basement floor and garage floor, if the house was built during the winter. But, is more likely to happen to any driveways, sidewalks, or patios.
Frozen discharge line
If your home has a sump pump, the discharge line is at risk of becoming frozen during the winter. The sump pump pushes excess water out of the home through the discharge line. If this line becomes frozen, water is forced back into the home and may cause basement flooding. To ensure the discharge line does not freeze, make sure it’s situated at a downward angle so water is not able to collect inside.
Leaks and Seepage
When temperatures warm up after a storm, the snow will begin to melt and seep into the soil surrounding your foundation. Peeling paint, musty odors, and dampness are signs water is leaking into your home. If the water becomes excessive, it can find its way into your basement through cracks, windows, doors, etc., and cause flooding.
For more information, see Basement Drain Systems: The Secret To A Dry Basement.
When snow accumulates on a roof, rising heat from inside the home can cause it to melt. Water runs down the roof until it hits the eaves, which are not as warm as other parts of the roof, and it refreezes. A dam of ice begins to build, and water cannot flow off of the roof. Instead, it seeps into the home, causing cracks, rotting walls, and other structural components.
Winter temperatures and storms can cause some very unwanted damage to your home. To prevent these issues, it’s important to properly insulate your home to stabilize it and prevent heat from escaping. Most importantly, you should have any known problems (substantial cracks, settlement issues, etc.) fixed as soon as possible. Harsh conditions will only worsen these issues, and you’ll be kicking yourself when they become severe. Get your free estimate before winter hits to find out how you can fight back against winter’s effects and save your foundation.