What Do Freezing and Thawing Do to Your Foundation?

by | Jan 28, 2019 | Foundation

You might think because ice is solid, it can’t leak into your basement or do damage to your foundation. Unfortunately, frozen or melted, water can do quite a number on a foundation and basement walls. The best way to prevent this is to make sure everything is as waterproof as you can get it and that your home’s outside is modified to mitigate water damage.

Frost Heave and Adfreezing

Once water goes into soil, it goes into every available soil pocket and swells the dirt. As the soil expands outward, it exerts pressure on the foundation and basement walls. This can cause concrete to shift and/or crack. Water that doesn’t freeze in the soil fills the pores in the concrete, causing the concrete to expand and crack.
Ice lens growth also affects foundations. Ice lenses draw in water as the ground freezes, moving soil around. It is called “adfreezing” when soil freezes to the foundation and the pressure from frost heave is applied. Adfreezing can also shift concrete.

Ice Dams

Ice dams occur when snow hits the roof and starts to melt, as the roof is warmer from heat rising in your home. The melt runs down to the gutters and eaves, then refreezes. As the ice builds up in these areas, water drips off and down to the soil around your foundation. Gutters are useless when they are filled with ice as they can’t direct water away from the home. This results in more soil saturation, which can freeze and create frost heaves.

Signs of Damage

Signs of water damage and pressure don’t just suddenly appear one day. Unless the foundation has a preexisting crack or other damage that gets drastically worse during the winter, it takes a while for water damage to become visible to the naked eye.

Cracks, bowed walls, water stains, and mold are basement and foundation signs that water has been penetrating and pushing against the concrete for some time. There also are signs outside of the basement that indicate waterproof failure. Doors and windows that keep getting stuck or are hard to close might be the result of a moving foundation that shifts the doorjambs and windowsills. Look for cracks in the ceiling and windows, or emanating from doorjamb corners, as these also are indicative of a shifting foundation.

Preventive Measures

Before winter arrives in all its freezing and thawing glory, do as much as you can to waterproof your home, then call in the professionals to handle what a DIYer shouldn’t touch. As a homeowner, make sure your home’s gutters are clean and have a downspout extension that runs several feet away from the house’s foundation. Angle the property away from the house at a gentle slope so water drains away from the foundation.

Let the pros tackle filling any cracks in the basement walls or foundation, installing a drainage system, removing mold, repairing bowed walls, and shifting or lifting the foundation.

When winter does hit, there are a couple of things you can do to lessen the severity of water damage. Keep the roof as clear of ice and snow as possible to prevent ice dams. Air circulation is important in a basement. Open a door and run a dehumidifier to keep air moisture low.

Acculevel Is Your Waterproofing and Foundation Repair Expert

When it’s time to call in a professional, Acculevel is a great choice. Our company has been going strong since 1978, and we have been specializing in basement waterproofing and foundation repair since 1996. Honesty is the best policy, and that’s a policy we believe in. We don’t charge outrageous prices, and we won’t try to convince you to have something done that isn’t necessary. If you live in the Midwest and would like us to take a look at your foundation and/or basement, give us a call at (866) 669-3349 or email us at [email protected].

Related Articles:
How Foundation Issues Affect Your Home’s Value
Learning More About Your Foundation
Top Ways to Avoid Foundation Problems
Types of Foundation for Your House
Warning Signs of Foundation Problems

Over her twenty year career, Kelly has worked in a wide variety of fields: secondary education, nursing, biology, elder care, the postal service, multicultural development, and academia. She has developed a skill for translating industry-specific jargon into everyday language. Her goal is to share the knowledge and experience of the Acculevel team with homeowners, in a way that is both engaging and informative.

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