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Winter Storms and Runoff: Foundation Damage They May Cause

Spring may be coming, but that doesn’t mean the snow that collected on your roof during the winter hasn’t done damage to your home. The weight of snow and snowmelt can do more than press down on your roof and seep into any roof cracks or openings. Melting snow also can create problems with a home’s foundation and basement walls.


When snow lands on the roof, it doesn’t just stay there as a lump of snow until warmer weather hits. There are enough temperature fluctuations during winter to cause snow to melt and refreeze several times. During this melting and freezing phase, water drips off the roof and ideally, into the gutters to be carried away from the house. However, ice dams can build up and thwart the direction in which you want the water to go. This means water drips directly next to your home’s foundation.

Ice Dams

In addition to regular outside temperature fluctuations, the roof typically is warmer than outside temps. Why? Warm air inside the home rises, which means it is headed straight for the attic and the roof. Even a slight difference in temperature can result in snow thawing at the bottom layers. This water then drips down, hits the colder gutters and eaves, and then freezes. This makes ice and additional snowmelt slide right over that ice.

Winter Runoff Damage

Years of winter snow runoff eventually affects a home’s foundation if the runoff is not directed away from the house. The problem with runoff is that it falls directly from the roof and lands on the ground surrounding the foundation. That water added to water already in the soil can create frost heaves. When water freezes, it expands, pushing it and the soil around it against the foundation’s concrete. Any runoff that doesn’t freeze can shift the soil and saturate it, which also results in pressure against the foundation.

Failure to have adequate foundation and basement waterproofing can mean water damage, including thin or wide cracks in the concrete, bowed basement walls, water spots, mold formation, and a shifting foundation. When a foundation shifts, it can affect more than just the basement. Windows in the house may crack, floors may sag, doors may not close correctly, and cracks may appear in the ceiling. If you have a garage, the shifting soil also may affect the garage floor and create cracks there.

What to Do

Try to keep your roof clear of snow and the gutters free of obstructions. Rake as much of the roof as possible and if you don’t have gutters, install them when the weather improves. Make sure the gutters’ downspouts empty out several feet from the foundation.

Hire a professional in foundation and basement waterproofing to check for damage and suggest repairs. It may be tempting to do it yourself and fill small cracks with materials from a home improvement store, but it is better to have someone who knows what he or she is looking at handle even the most minor repairs. If your house’s foundation has shifted and the basement walls are bowing, repairs may include shoring up the foundation with wall anchors, tie backs, or expanding foam injected underneath the foundation to fill in soil gaps.

Acculevel Handles Basement Waterproofing

Regardless of the temperature outside, at Acculevel, our experts are ready to examine your foundation and basement during any season to help with your waterproofing needs. Our exceptional staff has the skills and expertise to handle any problems with water affecting a home’s foundation and basement. From filling cracks and getting rid of mold to installing drainage systems, Acculevel does it all. If you have foundation and/or basement issues and live in the Midwest, give us a call at (866) 669-3349 or email us at [email protected] to set up an appointment for a free estimate.

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Tips to Protect Your Home Foundation This Spring

Kelly Kater

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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