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How Does the Cold Weather Affect Your Home’s Foundation?

Extreme cold and causes the soil to shrink leading to foundation cracks and settlement, which affects the health of your home’s foundation.

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Residents of Greenville, SC, are not strangers to the cold and precipitation in winter. The cold weather doesn’t just keep them indoors. But it also affects their home’s foundation and may compromise its structural integrity. 

What have you done to deal with the adverse effects of the winter cold and storms? To protect your home from weather-induced damage, insulate your walls to prevent heat loss. Address all known foundation problems like settlement issues and foundation cracks quickly. 

Still doubting whether cold weather can hurt your foundation? Read on to find out how cold weather affects your foundation and what you can do to prevent structural problems. 

uneven and cracking floor

Ways Cold Affects the Foundation 

As it gets colder, you can expect the following problems to pop up. The likelihood of damage goes up if temperatures drop below 40°F for three days consecutively. 

Frost heave damage 

Frost heave is a condition where the moisture below the home freezes and expands. The expansion exerts pressure on your home’s foundation, causing an upheaval. This upward movement can cause cracks to appear on your walls, floor, and ceiling. Three conditions must be present for frost heave to occur, and these are water, frost-susceptible soil, and freezing temperatures. 

Grounds start freezing from the top. Because the frozen area of the earth is harder and denser than the unfrozen part, it locks the foundation in place. Freezing will progress downward and this will cause the underlying soil to lift the top layer. This process pulls the foundation up, forming gaps and spaces beneath the foundation. 

When the weather warms up, the frozen ground thaws releasing water. The foundation also comes back down. Because the space beneath the foundation is filled partially, it won’t sink to its original position. In some cases, the foundation may collapse. 

Homeowners with basements will notice signs of foundation settlement around their doors and windows as well as walls. Doors and windows will stick to their frames, making it hard for the occupants to open or close them. Cracks will form in a zigzag pattern inside and outside your walls. As the settlement progresses, the cracks will worsen. 

Frozen discharge line 

If you have a sump pump, its discharge line might freeze during winter. Water is then forced back into your home, and this might flood your basement. To prevent your discharge line from freezing, make 

sure it slants downward so water won’t collect on the inside. A special attachment called the FreezeGuard™ also can be placed on your exterior discharge line by basement waterproofing professionals to allow water to continue to drain instead of backing up into your basement. 

Leaks and seepage 

When the temperatures start rising, the ice and snow will begin to melt and seep into the foundation soil around your home. Water saturation will occur, which is another way to say that soil won’t have the capacity to hold any more water. The excess water will seep through cracks, windows, and doors into your basement. This will trigger mold, dampness, and cause wall paint to peel. 

Ice dams 

Falling snow will start building up on your roof. Heat from your home that goes into the roof might cause the snow or ice to melt. What this does is cause water to run down the roof until it gets to the eaves, which are cold—then it refreezes, and an ice dam begins to form. Water won’t be able to flow off your roof. It will seep right into your home through holes. This water might cause wood rot, mildew growth, and wall cracks. 

Water damage 

Cracks in your foundation and basement will begin to grow due to freezing and thawing water. As cracks widen, your interior walls will pull apart and start separating from your roof. The sudden increase in moisture will cause major deterioration in your basement or crawl space. 

Winter holidays bring joy and anxiety. One thing you can do to lessen your stress and preserve the structural integrity of your home is to schedule a free foundation repair inspection and quote with the experts at Mount Valley Foundation Services. We can assess and address issues such as basement cracks and foundation settlement that can dampen your holiday mood. We will help you forestall any problems and save your foundation.

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