There is never a good time to have to deal with water in your basement, but the winter seems to bring a unique set of frustrations and stresses. If you think that your basement will only fill with water when a huge rainstorm passes through the area, then you are in for a surprise.
Water problems in your basement during the winter can sneak up on you, and they can be challenging to deal with. Read on to discover some of the common reasons why you might get a basement leak in winter.
Insufficient Drainage System
The gutters, eaves, troughs, and downspouts on your house are in place to move water away from the structure. In the winter, when the world should be frozen, you might not think that water is going to get into your basement.
However, there are still some sunny, warms days that will melt the ice and snow, and if your gutters are clogged or your downspouts are too close to the house, that water will drain directly into your basement.
Downspouts should direct water a minimum of four feet away from your house. Six feet is ideal to ensure that water doesn’t leak into your basement. It’s also recommended that you take the time during the fall to remove leaves and branches from your gutters to prevent water from getting into your basement during the winter.
Your Basement Creates Heat
Your basement may not be as warm as the rest of your house, but it’s still warmer than the freezing temperatures outside. The heat from your basement can radiate up to eight inches outside of the walls and can melt ice and snow. If you happen to have cracks or holes in your foundation, as the ice and snow melts, it won’t have anywhere to go except for inside your home.
If you’ve never heard the term “hydrostatic pressure,” this is a sophisticated way of talking about the downward pull of gravity. Hydrostatic pressure, combined with the heat that radiates from your basement, are reasons why you might have to deal with flooding during the winter.
When the heat from your basement melts ice and snow, hydrostatic pressure pulls it downward and traps it between the ground and your basement walls. As mentioned, if there are cracks or holes in your foundation, this will allow the water to seep through.
However, even if your foundation doesn’t currently have cracks or holes, as hydrostatic pressure pushes that water downward, water can accumulate in large quantities. Since it can’t flow through the frozen soil, it may push against your foundation and cause new cracks to form, allowing it to leak into your space.
If you have the right type of soil around your home, then it will allow moisture to flow through it and away from your house. Soil that does not drain properly allows the pressure from melting ice and snow to build, pressing it against your foundation. When that pressure gets high enough, it will leak into your basement.
In addition to having the right soil around your home, it also needs to be sloped properly. This ensures that moisture drains away from your home instead of directly into your basement. Typically, the slope should be six inches and directed away from your home. There should also be a clear path so that water can flow freely. Any obstacles may cause the water to back up and flood your basement.
Leaky Window Wells
The window wells at ground level are a great place for snow to accumulate. It can then be melted by the heat from your basement. To ensure this water doesn’t get inside your home, it’s imperative that your windows are sealed properly.
You might also consider covering your window wells to keep snow out and taking some time to remove snow from around ground-level windows.
Cold winter weather has a bad habit of freezing plumbing, and if the sewer line freezes or clogs, the water will back up into your basement.
Freezing temperatures can also impact your sump pump. If ice causes this device to burst, then the water won’t be drained from your basement and leave you dealing with a flood.
Winter Basement Leaks
Having to deal with a basement leak in winter is frustrating. Cold weather increases the chances of basement floods. However, there are ways to prevent winter basement leaks from occurring.
This includes maintaining your gutter and downspout system, as well as making sure it directs water far enough away from your house, fixing any holes or cracks in your foundation, surrounding your house with the right soil and slope, and keeping all basement drains free and clear so that they won’t clog.