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cold on your foundation

Is Your Home Ready for Winter Frost and Water? It Better Be!

Winter frost can instigate foundational issues that can damage the structural supports. Learn how you can mitigate the effects of cold and precipitation.

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As winter gets close, temperatures will start falling and precipitation will increase. Your structural supports, especially the foundation, will shrink. Both weather changes will impact the health and structural integrity of your foundation. 

cold on your foundation

Ways Cold Affects Your Foundation 

Nothing’s worse than waking up to uneven floors or water in your basement in the dead of winter. Sadly, that’s something many homeowners will experience in this cold weather. Winter temperatures, ice dams, and frost can all wreak havoc. The degree of damage might worsen if temperatures drop below 40 degrees for three consecutive days. 

Frost Heave 

Frost poses a greater risk than any other weather phenomenon. It’s behind the freezing-thawing cycle that causes the underlying soil to heave and contract. What this does is push the foundation upward, then let it sink back down. The upheaval causes foundation cracks and bowing walls while the shrinking causes settlement. 

Heaving only happens when there are water and soil that’s susceptible to cold. Freezing usually starts from the top downward. Since the frozen ground is harder than the part that’s not frozen, the soil underneath starts lifting the upper soil layers. 

Ice Dams 

Falling snow will also accumulate on your roof. The heat escaping from your home will warm this snow, causing it to melt. Within no time, the snow will start trickling down the roof if the gutters are clogged. However, it will refreeze around the eaves and form ice dams. Water won’t have an escape route, so it’s going to seep into your home causing wall rot. 

Water Seepage and Leaks 

Fluctuating temperatures means ice will thaw and release water into the soil. The melt-offs will pool around your home’s foundation. Once the soil gets saturated, water will have nowhere to go, so it’ll start seeping into the basement through cracks or crevices. It’s this water that causes wall paint to peel off, musty smells to form, and walls to get damp. 

Foundation Cracks 

Cracks and openings will form as the underlying soil pushes the foundation up. These cracks will let water into your home. Your problems could mount if the soils are unstable as you will experience serious structural damage that’s both disruptive and costly to fix. 

Foundation Settlement 

The freeze-thaw cycle won’t just cause foundation cracks but it will destabilize the foundation and can lead to foundation settlement. Since there’s a partially filled space below the foundation, the floors won’t settle to their original positions. You’ll notice that floors and slabs will become uneven while doors and windows will stick to their frames. 

Protecting Your Home 

Extreme winter temperatures and precipitation can hurt your foundation and instigate structural problems. You can avert foundation issues by insulating the home and low-lying areas like the basement to curb heat loss. Don’t let wide cracks or settlements remain unattended. Seal cracks and restore the sunken foundation. Otherwise, they can worsen as winter progresses. 

Another important measure you can take is to re-grade your yard. This move will promote surface drainage, meaning water will flow out and away from your home. Inspect and clean your gutters so water won’t back up and flow from the sides. 

Seal the vents in your crawl space with plastic vent covers. These will stop air exchange, which is a leading cause of dampness and poor indoor air quality. Don’t forget to seal rim joists and sills with foam sealant as well. It’s also important that this area is properly waterproofed, insulated, and encapsulated. 

Don’t let frost damage your concrete foundation. Get in touch with the experts at Tar Heel Basement Systems for a free foundation inspection and repair quote. For years, we have been helping homeowners protect their foundations and basement from extreme cold and precipitation in winter. We use industry-approved solutions and can help you fight back against the frost and water that are threatening your foundation.

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