Prepare Your Basement for Winter

Written by PermaDry on . Posted in Waterproofing your basement

The last thing you want to deal with during the busy winter season is your basement flooding. The increase of ice and cold can create leaks or cracks allowing moisture into your basement. If water enters your basement, you could face mold, mildew, or damage to stored items.

To avoid this, it’s important to prepare beforehand. Follow these small tips now so you can enjoy the holidays and keep your family safe. Here is how to prepare your basement for winter:

Look for Water around Basement Windows

Windows are a source for moisture to enter your home. After it rains, take a walk around the house to look for water near basement windows. Look for low spots in your lawn or pools of water around your basement window wells. Additionally, look for water running from the window. Any pools of water may cause problems if you have cracks in your foundation.

To avoid problems, look into replacing window wells. For an affordable, temporary fix you can purchase bubble window treatments.

Double-check Your Sump Pump    

Take a moment to look for pooling water around your sump pump hose. This might include dips in your basement floor that could cause water to collect. During the coldest part of the winter months, any sitting water can freeze and cause your sump pump to stop working. As a matter of fact, your discharge pump lines should be safe from any freezing water to safely pump water away from your foundation. In severe cases, frozen water may cause permanent damage to your sump pump.

Water should flow away from the pump without any complications. If you do encounter pooling water, call professionals to come repair the area.

Seal Cracks

Cracks on the exterior of your basement may allow water into your basement. This means during large storms of rain or snow, water may seep into cracks. During cold months, freezing water expands, causing the water in cracks to widen and/or allow moisture into your basement. This could cause mold, which contaminates your basement’s ventilation and air quality.

To protect your basement, look for cracks in your foundation before the winter months. If you have experience filling cracks, you can use silicone or hydraulic cement to fill cracks smaller than two millimeters. If you haven’t filled foundation cracks before, please call a professional. Further damage can come from inexperienced people trying a do-it-yourself job.

Shovel Snow away from Your Home

After a snowfall or freezing rain storm, clear snow and ice as soon as possible. This will help you avoid ice accumulating near your foundation. You do not want water to freeze and melt near your foundation. Water that leaks into your basement foundation cracks may widen the cracks and cause further damage.

Additionally, as you shovel snow or chisel ice, push the it away from your home. You want to avoid piling snow or ice against your foundation. Doing so will help keep moisture away from your basement.

Remove Debris from Gutters

Before winter weather comes, clear gutters and roof drains of leaves or other debris. Any object that blocks water in these areas may cause water to overflow into the soil surrounding your home. The water in your soil may leak into your basement foundation.

Look for fall leaves left in your rain gutters or roof drains that may create barriers for running water. Additionally, trees on your property may cause fall leaves to accumulate in drains and gutters. Likewise, if you have evergreen trees, they may leave pine needles around your area that also clog these areas.

As a rule of thumb, water should drain at least five feet from your home’s foundation.

Prepare Pipes for Winter Freeze

Frozen water expands and puts pressure on pipes. This means if water freezes in your pipes, the water expands and may cause or widen cracks. Even minor cracks can create major flooding problems. For example, a small crack in a household pipe can leak 250 gallons of water a day. That much water can cause a major flood.

To protect your pipes from freezing you need to keep cold air from accessing them. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Wrap pipes with heat tape or cables.
  • Insulate your basement.
  • Drip warm water from the faucet overnight.
  • In bathrooms, leave cabinet doors open to allow heat near pipes.

Check Your Humidity Levels

If you find your basement has poor drainage or high humidity levels, you may want to look into waterproofing your basement. This will prevent water damage that may occur during the winter season.

You can check humidity levels with a humidistat. Make sure levels are lower than 50 percent, otherwise your basement is prone to mold growth or structural damage. If you have high humidity, you can waterproof your basement, or for a quick fix, use a dehumidifier.

Don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber or waterproofer for help. He or she can help if you experience any leaks or flooding in your basement. You may also want to ask expert advice to avoid flooding before the cold winter months. The more you do now to dehumidify your home the more you can enjoy the holidays.

Now that you know how to get your basement ready for the winter months, check out our other blogs for more basement tips and tricks.

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