With the weather starting to warm up in Edmonton, melting snow and running water means you need to stay on top of seasonal maintenance items! Melting snow can have a negative effect on your foundation and basement as water is the number one problem for foundations. The physical stress of the freeze and thaw cycle on your foundation is made worse when combined with excess water.
When protecting your foundation from water your primary goal is to direct water away from your home. You are trying to prevent two types of damage:
- Water seeping into your foundation through small cracks. As the water freezes and thaws those cracks will widen over time.
- Interior flooding in your basement. Whether the water comes in through a crack or other opening in your home’s foundation, water can and will damage flooring, furnishings and other valuables in your basement.
Keep your spring season dry with a few simple tips to keep water away from your home.
Check Your Gutters
Think of the exterior of your home as an interconnected system: melt water that flows off your roof and over your gutters will hit the ground beside your foundation. This effect is amplified if the ground beneath your eaves has a layer of ice or snow melting right beside your home. So do your best to ensure that your gutters and downspouts are effectively moving the melt-water from your roof to the city drainage system.
Do a tour of your basement and inspect all uncovered basement walls. Fill in any cracks that you do see with epoxy. If your basement is fully finished, inspect your drywall for unexpected condensation, warping or discolouration of the paint. Any of these issues can indicate a moisture problem.
Keep Your Shovel Handy
Be willing to go and remove excess snow from along your home. In the winter when you are clearing walkways, the snow has got to go somewhere, and beside the foundation of your home often seems to be the path of least resistance. If you pile winter snow beside your home, shovel it away from your foundation when the warmer weather comes.
Earn Good Grades
If you had new landscaping finished around your home, keep a watchful eye on which direction the melting snow flows: towards or away from your home. A quality landscaper will have designed your yard for good drainage, but a hard winter can shift the grade of the earth around your home and create a slope towards your foundation.
Make it an Open-and-Shut Case
Be vigilant around your window wells. Windows that are below grade and can be opened are not sealed. If enough water pools in front of a basement window and “over tops” the bottom of the window, water will flow through any cracks into your basement.
Have a Backup Plan
If you have taken all of these preventative measures and face an exceptional water event, then know ahead of time what your plan is. Learn how to use a sump pump and be prepared to buy, rent or borrow when needed. If you have a storage room in the basement, keep your possessions off the floor by installing pallets. And if you are out of town, ask your neighbour to check in on the basement while you're away.
Water can be one of the most powerful forces on earth. Extreme rain, fast melts, or other acts of nature can overcome even the best planning. But, prudent planning and some basic home maintenance can deal with most water related issues in your home. After you're done, you will have plenty of time to head outdoors and enjoy the weather!