It’s the middle of winter…why is my basement flooding?

- Friday, March 03, 2023

To some it may seem counterintuitive that you’d be getting a ton of water in the basement in the winter, but it happens quite a bit.  Why is that? Adam explains why basements can flood, even during winter.

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 podcast 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: It's the middle of winter…why is my basement flooding?

Narrator: So, Adam, to some, it may seem counterintuitive that you'd be getting a ton of water in the basement in the wintertime, but it happens quite a bit. Why is that?

Adam: Wintertime is often thought of as the time where we don't get any water in our basement, it's really just in the spring rains or during those heavy rains in the summer, maybe a tropical storm. But in a lot of ways, wintertime can be one of our busiest times of year. And there's a few reasons for this. The first thing that we always think about is, well, it's mostly going be snowing or ice and the occasional rain for most of winter and most of these storms aren't going to be as powerful as a, as a summer hurricane or tropical storm or thunderstorm, which dumps a tremendous amount of water into the earth at a very short period of time.

There's a few very important reasons why wintertime can actually be more detrimental in a flooding environment. The first reason is that the ground typically is frozen to some level. This winter has been a little bit of an anomaly because it's been so warm, but typically the ground's frozen for the first foot if not longer or deeper into the soil. Obviously a foundation's basement is designed to be below the frost line in New England, and that's the reason why we have basements in New England and why people in Florida typically don't have basements because they don't need them.

We have these basements to be below the frost line, so that way the house doesn't heave in the wintertime. But what happens is, that top layer of soil becomes solid. So if you have a water table issue which would during the spring and during the summer typically can find its way to go into the soil and kind of disperse the amount of water into the soil, now you have a hard cap on the top. So now you have all this water pressure building in the soil, it has nowhere to go up because the ice has blocked it, so it only has to go down and inward.

Now, where is your basement sitting, your basement sitting now in the soil that is extremely wet, it can't go up to fill the soil above because it's frozen, so it actually starts to find its way into the basement. A lot of wintertime activity happens where we get a lot of perimeter wetness where the floor typically meets the wall. So, it's not uncommon to have very heavy sump pump activity in the wintertime because the ground's frozen up top, but the moist soil down below where the bottom of your basement is actually still pretty wet, and it can cause this. The other part about this frozen area will actually cause or we have a rapid melt. So if we get a rain event or if we have snow with a rain event and a rapid warming that can cause a lot of basement flooding. And in fact just about once a year, we can pretty much count on there's going to be a snow event with a decent snow pack, and then there's going to be one stretch of 60 degree days that's going to melt everything and there's going to be a rain on top of it.

Now if you think about it, you have a 10-inch snow pack with three feet of frozen soil and then two inches of rain on a 60 degree day that's really like having about five or six inches of rain all in one event. So, areas which are susceptible to getting wet typically will happen on these really big warming days where there's a rain event on top of the snowpack and frozen soil. The other area why we get so much water in the basements in the wintertime is because of the freezing and thawing cycles. We don't live in the arctic circle here, so typically it's not frozen from October to March. The ground will freeze, it will thaw, it will freeze and thaw and that soil in the ice that's packed into any sort of cracks or deficiencies in your foundation experiences that same freezing and thawing cycle. And as we know, when the water freezes it expands.

We know that the water is going to freeze and thaw, freeze and thaw and those little hairline cracks that were never really any concern in your basement, all of a sudden start leaking. And people call us all the time, I've lived here 20 years, I've lived here for 30 years, this has always been here, it’s the first time I've ever seen it leaking water. Why is that? It's usually during the wintertime they see it or just into the spring because the damage of winter has been done. So now that the freezing and thawing cycle is continuing, it is either displaced, the mud and soil that's in there and now has widened the crack or it has actually just widened the crack in general and now water can find a way in there.

Winter time, often thought of as the dry season for waterproofing, and most homeowners are saying, well it's winter time, I don't have to worry about it, I'll deal with it in the spring. Most of the issues that we see for big events come in the wintertime and it's typically going to lead to bigger issues in the spring and summer. So, it's a good time to really kind of evaluate your issues in the wintertime, so that way when the spring rains come and the summer thunderstorms come, you're not constantly standing vigil with a bucket and a vacuum trying to clean up your basement all the time. It can be a good way to get ahead of it during the winter.

Narrator: Well, thanks Adam for explaining why basements can flood even during winter.

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 or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.

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A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.

Toll Free: 866-929-3171

Call Us Today at 866-929-3171

A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.