Maintaining your home’s foundation is important in general, but there are certain things you can do to protect it during the cold-weather months. Let’s discuss five ways to maintain your home’s foundation in the fall and winter.
How Cold Weather Impacts Your Foundation
Frigid winter temperatures can be detrimental to a home’s foundation. Here are a few common causes of winter foundational damage.
Frozen Pipes – When temperatures drop below 30°F, your home may experience frozen or bursting pipes. Frozen pipes can severely damage a home’s foundation. Busted pipes result in flooding, which can weaken your foundation and create under-slab voids. To avoid costly repairs, you must prepare your pipes for winter weather and follow other home foundation maintenance best practices.
Concrete Contracts – Similar to soil, the concrete in your home’s foundation also tends to expand and contract with the changing winter temperatures. The concrete contracts during the colder months and expands in the warmer months. This can result in cracks that will only grow larger over time. It’s possible for the foundation to shift, settle, and sit unevenly.
5 Tips to Maintain Your Home’s Foundation
Now that you know what causes winter foundation issues, let’s establish some simple steps you can take to prevent damage and keep your home safe and secure. Check out these five weatherproofing foundation tips to avoid serious structural damage.
1. Inspect the Foundation
Freezing temperatures can make your home’s foundation susceptible to shifting. The cold puts extreme pressure on the foundation, causing it to shift and crack. When wintertime comes around, regularly check for any cracks or other signs of a compromised foundation. When in doubt, bring in a local foundation expert to assess your situation.
2. Direct Your Drainage
Pay close attention to the soil around your foundation to ensure that it slopes away from your home. Directing your yard drainage will prevent water from over saturating the soil surrounding your foundation, as it can lead to severe cracks, leaks, and other structural damage. These precautions will ensure that rain and groundwater (and occasionally, melted snow) won’t flow back and seep into the foundation soil. Aim for a positive grade that slopes away 6 inches for every 10 feet. Learn more about the effects of poor drainage on foundations.
3. Landscaping and Grading
Just like water, if soil doesn’t drain properly from your yard, it could lead to foundation problems in the future. As a homeowner, it is important that you take the steps to properly landscape and grade your yard to prevent foundation leaks or cracks. If needed, re-grade the soil surrounding your foundation to slope away from the house. Dense soils like clay are most effective. In addition, you’ll want to clean up your yard; remove dead leaves and litter to ensure water can flow easily.
4. Clean Your Gutters
It is a general rule of thumb to keep water away from your foundation. This practice is just as important during the winter months. Gutters help direct water away from your home’s foundation, so keep them clean! Clear out your gutters of any debris or clutter, and make sure your downspouts are pointed away from your home.
5. Look for Warning Signs
When colder weather strikes, it pays to look out for the early signs of foundation issues. Inspect your home and seek professional advice if you notice any of the following warning signs this winter.
- Cracks near doors or windows
- Cracks in walls and ceilings, or stairways
- Cracks in soil around the exterior of your home
- Cracks in floor tiles, especially if the tile is installed over concrete
- Doors or windows that seem tight or are hard to open and close
- Soil pulling away from foundation
- Gapping around windows or doors
- Sagging or uneven floors
- Sagging roof
Get More Foundation Advice from URETEK
Cold weather will be here before you know it, making now the perfect time to winterize your home. Taking the proper precautions will help prevent foundation damage and ultimately improve the longevity of your residential home. In addition to following these five home foundation maintenance tips, it may be beneficial to recruit the help of a professional foundation repair specialist. If you notice symptoms of foundation issues such as cracks in walls or gaps around windows, put your mind at ease and reach out to an expert immediately.