Winter can cause trouble for homeowners in a number of ways, but one of the most serious problems to be aware of is damage to foundations. If the foundation is damaged by the effects of snow, ice, and winter it will often spread the issue to the rest of the house and cause long lasting structural problems.
Protect Your Foundation
The foundation is arguably the most important part of the home. The integrity of the entire structure depends on how well the foundation is built and maintained. The consequences of a disturbed foundation can range from simple repairable cracks to damaged sheetrock or malfunctioning windows. Regardless of the cause or symptom, it’s important to repair the issue as quickly as you can.
Problems with foundations tend to be compounding and will get worse over time causing more trouble for you the longer you allow the problem to go unaddressed. Residential and commercial foundation repair can be extremely expensive, depending on the circumstance, so it’s important to take care of issues as soon as they come up in order to minimize costs.
Look Out For Cracks
It is not uncommon for hairline cracks to develop over the course of the year. This occurs naturally as the foundation begins to settle into the ground that it was built on. However, in the winter these hairline cracks, that may have began in the summer, can become a big problem. These cracks need to be sealed in the fall before winter arrives to avoid any potential issues. If water gets into any of the cracks, it could result in serious damage when it freezes.
The amount of force created by water turning to ice can literally move mountains. If this does happen it can easily make the cracks larger and wider thereby destabilizing the foundation. So it’s very important to make sure that you fill in any cracks while you have the chance to avoid a headache of this magnitude.
Keep the Water Flowing
If you’re basement is unfinished and uninsulated it’s also important to consider the condition of any mechanical elements you may have there. We all know that frozen pipes are a huge issue in the winter, so this is an obvious place to start. It’s possible that you may have both supply and waste lines running through your basement, both of which can freeze. You can prevent the supply lines from freezing by ensuring that the pipes themselves are insulated, the temperature in the basement is kept reasonably warm, and that the water doesn’t sit in the pipes for too long.
In order to ensure that the waste line doesn’t freeze, you need to check the pitch of the line. If the pipe is pitched back towards the house, this is going to prevent the water from completely discharging. If this happens, the water is going to sit in the pipe, build up, freeze, and burst the pipe. If your pipes freeze, for whatever reason, in addition to having a flooded basement, you could also end up with a severely damaged foundation if the water is allowed to freeze.
Another thing that your foundation could fall victim to is “frost-heave”. Frost heaving is ultimately caused by ice and operates by the same principal as the problem cause by water getting into cracks; water expands as it freezes. As moisture in the ground freezes, it causes upward movement of the soil as the frozen soil consumes more and more water from below. The process is extremely powerful and is also to reason for many potholes and even some land formations.
Putting a foundation in this context is essentially placing an immovable object in the path of an unstoppable force. Only in this case, the immovable object moves. If you know that the ground around your home is frozen, it’s a good idea to regularly inspect your foundation by looking for cracks of any size.
Even after you make it through the winter, the problems can still continue. Often, what follows the snowy season is the mud season. Once it gets warm, all the snow on the ground has to melt. When it melts, it has to go somewhere. This means that the ground around your home is absorbing a massive amount of water. Potentially an entire season’s worth of snow. Your home may be equipped with a French drain system, which will help direct the water where you want it to go and keep it away from where you don’t.
If your foundation does not have a drainage system, you’ll want to make sure that your sump pump is in working order and keep a close eye on the walls and floors, looking for signs of any water intrusion.
Contact Dirt Connections Today
For any additional information on winter effects on foundations or other commercial foundation repair services or commercial asphalt paving services in Fairfax, VA, please call or contact Dirt Connections online today or call us directly. We are ready to assist you with any questions you might have before you start your next project!