- January 20, 2022
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Most people think of basement flooding as being associated with heavy rainfall in the spring, summer, and fall. But it has been our experience as a basement waterproofing company that the dangers of basement flooding and water intrusion are a serious threat to your home in the winter as well.
This is caused by the heavy snow, snowmelt, and the freeze-thaw cycle we get here in the Mid-Atlantic. When the snow melts on your roof or next to your foundation, partially due to the warmer ground temperatures next to your heated foundation, it seeps into the ground and builds up next to your foundation. If the ground is frozen, the snow accumulates until the ground thaws, and then it starts seeping into the ground and heads towards your foundation. Often times the thaw happens in conjunction with warm rain on top of the snow and the frozen ground. If there is an inch of rain frozen in the soil, 12” of snow on top of the ground and an inch of warm rain falls it can be like 3” of rain just fell for your seeping foundation.
That same freeze-thaw cycle can create cracks in your home’s foundation. As the saturated soil presses against your foundation the water searches for a place to go. For many homeowners, the water seeps into and through cracks and seams in your foundation walls and concrete basement floor, eventually forming puddles and causing basement flooding.
There are steps you can take to protect your home. Check out the following tips to prevent basement flooding this winter.
1. Keep Snow Away
No, we don’t mean shovel around your entire foundation. But we do suggest that when you are removing snow from your sidewalk, patio, and driveway, pile the snow away from your home’s foundation. This all helps the snowmelt drain away from your foundation rather than toward it.
2. Keep Stairwell Drains and Window Well Drains Free of Ice and Debris
Along those same lines, if you have an exterior basement door that is at the bottom of an open stairwell, you will need to remove snow and ice buildup as well as piles of leaves from the area. Leaves and other debris can block the drain, allowing water to flow into your basement under the door.
In addition, consider installing Bilco doors or window well covers over the exterior stairwell or window well. This will help to prevent rain, sleet, and snow from falling directly into the stairway or window well. The wind may still blow some rain and frozen precipitation into these areas, but the covers will reduce the overall amount.
If the drain is very small, you can also consider enlarging it.
3. Keep Your Gutters Clean
Check your gutters for visible clogs of leaves and debris. Is one section of your gutter overflowing? You may need to get your gutters cleaned, as the weather permits. Also, make sure you have downspout extenders installed to direct melting snow as far away from your foundation as possible. Be sure to clear snow away from the downspout extender so the water runoff can easily drain.
4. Clear Snow Away from Sump Pump Discharge Lines
If your discharge line extends to the street, it can get buried under a mountain of snow when the snowplow goes by. This build-up can cause the end of the discharge line to freeze. Your discharge line itself shouldn’t freeze if it’s buried properly since the water pumped up is warmer than the winter air outside. In a snowy yard, you may see a straight line of melting snow that follows the path of your discharge pipe. Frozen or blocked discharge lines cause sump pumps to fail even if they are brand new.
5. Check Your Sump Pump
If there has been a lot of snowmelt, and you haven’t heard your sump pump, check to make sure it’s working. Newer pumps with a controller may have a test button, or light to tell you it’s on. For other pumps, you can test it manually by pouring about 5 gallons of water into the sump pit. That should be enough to raise the float and cause the pump to run. If you discover your sump pump is not working, call us immediately.
6. Get a Backup Sump Pump
Installing a battery-backup sump pump helps protect you if your primary pump fails, or if the power goes out during heavy winds or an ice storm. You may also want to check with your homeowner’s insurance company about adding a sump pump rider to your policy. For a nominal fee, this can protect your finishings and personal belongings in the event of flooding due to a failed sump pump.
Call for Help
If you find out that a sump pump is not working, or you have puddles or standing water in your basement, call for help right away. If you are an existing customer, we can come change out the sump pump quickly. And if you do not have a basement waterproofing system, now is the time to consider one.
Schedule Your FREE Basement Inspection
If you’ve had water seepage in your basement this winter, or if you’re considering remodeling or finishing your basement, don’t delay moving towards a dry basement. Schedule a FREE basement inspection to address any water intrusion before it gets worse. Our inspectors have years of experience and will thoroughly evaluate your basement and make waterproofing recommendations that are customized for your home.
Basement waterproofing offers a permanent solution that helps you protect the structural integrity of your home and your family’s health at the same time. To schedule your inspection, fill out the contact form or call us at (888) 768-2583. We serve homeowners in Maryland, Washington DC, Delaware, northern Virginia, the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.