The Northeast just received nearly 2 feet of snow from the nor’easter cyclone bomb. With that came arctic-like temperatures. In this episode, Adam Tracy explains how winter weather can wreak havoc on your foundation.
Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Daddy himself, Adam Tracy. Adam and The Crack Man Rich have over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. Rich as over 25 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcasts provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: The topic of today’s podcast: How winter weather can wreak havoc on your foundation.
Narrator: So Adam, you guys just received nearly 2 feet of snow from the nor’easter cyclone bomb that came through the Northeast, and with that came arctic-like temperatures. I’m sure that isn’t good for a foundation. Am I right?
Adam: You are right. In fact, the worst thing for most foundations is the constant cycle in between the cold and the warm. And a lot of people will put off foundation repair projects into the spring because they think, well, its concrete masonry work can’t be done in the cold, and it really is something that can actually be a worst situation in the spring. So in the winter weather cycle we just had recently, there’s a few things that you want to do as a homeowner to make sure that you don’t have major issues moving forward as you consider a foundation project and then also, repair projects as well.
The first thing that we get a lot of phone calls on, typically, is water that’s coming over the top of the foundation. And the reason why this happens is, when we get 20 inches of snow, or more, like in the case of the latest storm that we had here, a lot of the snow can get drifted up; or when your snowplowing or shoveling the walkways, gets piled up right against the foundation or against the house. As the melt begins to happen, snow or water will start to actually go over the top of the foundation. So, we got a lot of photos, a lot of videos from customers where they’re saying, I’m getting a lot of water in the basement, I’ve never had water here before. And when we ask for the photos, a lot of times it’s coming at the very top of the foundation wall and it’s cascading down to the floor.
So, the first thing we tell people is, make sure you go outside and clear a path between the foundation wall and the house and at least 1 or 2 feet away from that. So that way, any melt water doesn’t go in over the top of the foundation. Then we’ve talked about in several podcasts earlier about having enough height between the top of the foundation and any sort of garden beds, and so making sure that you have enough relief so that if you do have snow pileup and you can’t get to it right away, there’s not going to be water going up and over the top of the foundation. Not only is that water going over the top of the foundation an issue, but it’s also going to potentially cause rot and damage to the sill plate, the siding, and any sheeting underneath there, and especially, also, potential insulation that might be up until the joist and rafters there.
So, that’s the first thing you want to do during any snowstorm. Now a lot of people delay these projects because, again, it’s in the far process of any sort of concrete where it generally doesn’t take place in the wintertime. You know there’s a special equipment to obviously make that happen, but most times these are spring, summer, fall projects. But problem is, is that during the wintertime we see the most damage due to foundation itself, because water will get into the foundation cracks, or joints, or flaws, or whatever it might be, and during the freezing and thawing cycles, it’ll actually expand and contract that joint.
So, one of the things that we recommend is get that sealed because from the early fall into late spring, we’re going to have major temperature changes, we’re going to go from 70 degree days to 0 degree days, sometimes it happens over a week or two period. And so we have this constant shifting between freezing and thawing, and freezing and thawing; we get a lot of damage and a lot of additional cracking and additional water infiltration during that period. Now because of the methods that we use to repair foundations, specifically with concrete and block foundations, the vast majority of the work is being done from the inside. So we’re not necessarily concerned about outside temperatures for us to do the work because the foundation on the interior in the basement and the interior is going to be above freezing, typically, hopefully above freezing, if you’re a homeowner. That way we can actually install or inject materials into the wall, sealing them from the inside all the way to the outside.
We actually displace the water and displace the ice sets in that joint, it’s causing it to seal from the inside-out, and causing it so that it doesn’t actually have water get in there, and act like a wedge to open it back up. So these winter cycles can be very, very challenging for the foundation. Another area where they’re extremely challenging is there in the bulkheads, so we see a lot of bulkhead-leaking in the transition between fall-winter and winter-spring. And the reason why is that the bulkheads are bolted on with 2-4 bolts that actually suck the precast section into the foundation wall. And what happens is, depending on how they backfill the hole that they put this in, you are sometimes subject to heaving, and when that bulkhead will heave up and down, it will break down the seal between the foundation and the precast bulkhead.
A lot of times that we see these wild temperature swings between sub-freezing to mild days, not only is it going to cause melt water but it’s also going to cause the soil to soften and stiffen, which causes a rocking motion of the bulkhead. So usually, we see bulkheads leak right around this time of year when we’re transitioning from a cold snap to a warm spell and then back to a cold snap, because the soils are going to have changes as well. So something to consider, most people think that the arctic tundra of winter is a no-water environment for your foundation, but it’s really not the case, especially as you go from warm weather, then the cold weather and back and forth, it can cause a lot of issues. So wintertime is the time to be able to take care of these so that in springtime, where the rains really start flowing, it’s not as big of an issue. So it’s certainly something that you want to consider.
Narrator: Well, thanks Adam for explaining how winter weather can wreak havoc on your foundation, and more importantly, what you can do to prevent it.
Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Adam at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.