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Winter Is Coming Is Your Basement Waterproof?

gutter draining in winter

Fall is here and winter is just behind it. Soon it will be time to switch your HVAC from cool to heat and break out your winter wearables.

If you have been through even one Canadian winter, you know it is a season worth taking seriously on every level – including the basement level!

Winter can do strange things to basements. We have seen firsthand how the ongoing freeze-thaw cycles of winter can shift the soil sitting around your basement, creating newfound cracks that quickly turn into leaks.

In this post, find out what to do to prepare your basement to stay safe and dry before winter arrives.

4 Reasons that Basements Leak in Winter

Every week, we get calls from new and longtime customers who have seen signs of a small possible leak in their basement.

As long as the weather stays warm, it is generally okay to adopt a “watch and wait” approach for emergent or very minor basement leaks.

But when winter looms, this same strategy can turn dangerous and costly for these four key reasons.

1. Winter is one long freeze-thaw cycle

Winter is without a doubt the longest season in Canada. It is also the most erratic, and increasingly so since the onset of climate change. Seasonal storms are becoming stronger and more severe.

The freeze-thaw cycles of Canada’s winter season wreak havoc on those small micro-fissures and cracks. During the freezes, the crack contracts. When there is a thaw, the crack expands.

Concrete, the most common basement construction material, is naturally porous anyway, and the continual freeze-thaw/contract-expand cycles have the effect of shaking loose the foundation and entire basement structure.

This creates gaps around the basement where water can move in and find its way through the ever-widening cracks in the concrete and into your basement itself.

2. Warmth from your home causes snow to melt faster

Winter can be a surprisingly wet season here in Canada due to the sometimes epic amounts of snow, sleet, ice and freezing rain.

But what happens when all that frozen water comes in contact with the walls and foundation of your warm home? It melts, of course!

This produces even more water that drains into the soil around your foundation and then needs somewhere to go from there. It is just a matter of time before all that pressurized water finds its way into the cracks in the concrete and into your basement.

3. Your sump pump fails and no backup is in place

Winter storms and all that heavy snowfall and ice can result in downed power lines, damaged breaker boxes and subsequent power outages.

If you have a recently inspected and maintained sump pump and an emergency backup sump system already in place, you can skip over this section.

But if you haven’t had your existing sump system inspected and maintained this year and/or you don’t have a backup sump pump, winter would be the most likely time when your pump could fail and your basement could end up flooding with water from snow and ice runoff.

4. Your grading and existing drainage sends all that snow you-know-where

Here in Ontario, the cold season can easily last five to six months. While this is the time when many homeowners first realize their drainage is outdated or their grading has shifted in a not-good direction, it isn’t the best season for fixing these problems.

The reason is simple: the ground is frozen! It is very hard to dig into the rock-hard soil in winter to add drains and window wells, improve grading, update underground drainage downspouts and other necessary tasks.

So if this necessary safety maintenance is not done before winter starts, it is quite likely going to be a long five or six months of continual snow pressure that turns into runoff and then turns into basement leaks.

What to Do Now to Leak-Proof Your Basement Before Winter Comes

At this point, you are probably wondering what you need to do to protect your basement and your home from leaks before winter arrives.

Depending on who you ask, anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of basements in North America maintain an active leak or flooding risk. These are not good odds, especially if you own an older home with an older basement!

1. Do your own visual inspection

We recommend starting to take action by doing your own visual inspection. Examine the grading and downspouts around the external perimeter near your foundation.

Peer into the gutters. Head down into your basement and check for humidity, damp, efflorescence (mineral salts left behind when water evaporates) and leaks. Test your sump system. Sniff and see if there are signs of mould or mildew.

2. Schedule a professional inspection

Any professional worth the time it takes to call should offer you a free basement inspection and free quote for any repair needs this inspection identifies. We do!

3. Remedy damp or leak issues before winter arrives

Today’s affordable basement waterproofing options are sleek and streamlined. Typically, a full interior basement waterproofing job can be done in just one to two days.

Get in Touch

Are you concerned about humidity, moisture or active leaking inside your basement? We can help!

Give us a call to learn more about our free no-obligation EasyQuote inspection service and find out how you can get an affordable, durable and attractive leakproof basement in just a day or two!

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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