Fortunately for the residents of Alabama, it is not a state well known for harsh winters – like Minnesota, Michigan, or Wisconsin. However, the milder winters that Alabama sees still pose several risks for concrete foundations. Even if parts of the state do not typically experience much ice or snow, rainfall usually increases from fall to winter, causing the soil to saturate. Learn about these winter foundation problems and how to take preventative action with the help of Affordable Foundation and Home Repair.
What are the Effects of Winter Weather on My Alabama Foundation?
- Saturated Soil/Hydrostatic Pressure: The wetter that the soil is around your home, the more saturated with water it becomes. This is a problem because many parts of Alabama are rich in clay soil, also known as expansive soil. This soil expands as it absorbs water and shrinks when the water is released. Heavily saturated soil due to winter rain, snow, and ice melt will swell, increasing the hydrostatic pressure in the ground. This swollen soil will then push against your foundation walls, possibly even causing them to shift and crack.
- Erosion: If your part of the state has recently experienced a lot of dry weather, the sudden winter wetness could be troublesome. This is because dry soil tends to shrink, leaving cracks and voids in the ground. As rain falls onto this dry ground, it will enter the cracks and voids and might wash away some of the dry soil. If the soil under and around your foundation is washed away, it will leave the home unevenly supported, causing it to sink and settle.
- Foundation Leakage: If you have existing cracks in your foundation, water from winter rains or melting snow can seep through them and enter your home. This can cause deterioration of the concrete and other materials that support your home and might lead to mold growth. Mold growth will lower the air quality in your home, which is especially dangerous during the winter time since you spend a lot of time in your home and have it closed up, giving you a lot of time to breathe in mold-infected air. If your foundation does not have any cracks, the hydrostatic pressure and water damage from winter weather may cause cracks to form.
What Can I Do Protect My Foundation from Winter Weather?
There are, however, a couple of precautions that you can take to protect your home from winter weather problems.
- First, check your home for cracks and leaks. If you have existing cracks in your foundation, winter weather will worsen them. Get them repaired before the cold weather really hits to prevent a flooded basement or home in the springtime.
- Next, make sure you have an adequate waterproofing system. If you don’t have a French drain or waterproof membrane protecting your foundation from excess groundwater, the water might seep into the concrete, wearing it down and causing a wet basement.
- Do your part to waterproof your home. You can help water drain away from your home by attaching downspouts to your gutter to ensure water is expelled away from the foundation. Clean out your gutters as well – gutters full of debris and leaves will not be able to catch water and will cause it to form puddles near your home. Also, check the grading around your home. If the yard does not slope away from the home, puddles might collect ear your foundation, leading to leakage and crack formation.
- Keep snow away from your foundation by shoveling. Any snow that sits near your foundation might melt and soak through the concrete or contribute to excess groundwater and hydrostatic pressure around your foundation.
What if I Already Have Winter Foundation Problems?
Winter weather is unpredictable, and older homes are even more likely to develop a problem than most new homes. No matter how well you prepare, there is still a chance that you might have to deal with winter weather-related foundation problems. If you do notice foundation cracks or leakage, now or after winter, call Affordable Foundation and Home Repair. We offer the following solutions to help protect your home and fix any foundation problems you might see this winter:
- Helical Piers: This is an underpinning method in which piers are installed under the home and is a great solution for foundation settlement or foundation cracks.
- Polyjacking: If you have a slab foundation, we might level it using polyjacking, a minimally invasive technique that will reverse sinking and close cracks.
- Crawlspace Encapsulation: If your home has a crawlspace, installing a vapor barrier through crawlspace encapsulation will keep out winter moisture.
- Exterior Waterproofing: Protect your exterior foundation walls with the help of a waterproof membrane and other exterior waterproofing products.
- Surface Drainage: Ensuring proper surface drainage will reduce the water that pools around your foundation to prevent winter water leakage.
- Sump Pump Installation: We also install sump pumps and other kinds of interior waterproofing to remove water from basements during winter storms.
- Mold Remediation: If you notice a musty odor after cleaning up winter flooding in your basement, mold remediation can remove harmful mold to keep you safe.
Don’t let winter weather foundation problems ruin your holidays – call us right away if you need help protecting your home from winter foundation problems. Otherwise, keep our number handy! We will be here to help all winter and after winter.