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How Does Winter Weather Affect Your Home’s Foundation?

he cold weather leads to frost heaves in the ground, which cause serious structural damage to your foundation. Find out how to protect your home’s foundation.

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Cold weather in Fargo, ND, can have a major impact on your foundation. The foundation of your home is constructed underneath the ground, surrounded by porous, expanding soil. When this soil comes into contact with water, it expands and contracts, triggering movement in your foundation. This movement is more likely to happen when the temperatures are at their lowest due to the frost heave cycle. 

As the winter sets in, most homeowners turn their attention to the furnaces and the plumbing. For some reason, they don’t consider the effects of the cold weather on their foundation. Big mistake. 

snow and foundation

What is the frost heave cycle? 

Frost heave occurs when the waterlogged soil surrounding and within the foundation expands due to freezing. As snow melts, it saturates the soil, which results in overnight freezing. The soil starts freezing from the top downward. Temperatures will continue to drop, and the ground will continue to freeze. The frozen soil below your home will increase in volume and expand upward, and as it does, it shifts the foundation. 

The frost heave cycle can have negative effects on your foundation as it causes instability in the soil. The expanding soil is going to damage your foundation. The extent of damage increases if temperatures drop below 40 degrees for more than three consecutive days. 

What are the effects of frost heave on your foundation? 

Here is how frost heave can affect your home’s foundation. 

Foundation shifting 

Cold temperatures cause the water in the soil surrounding your home to freeze, producing frost heave. Frost heave is the upward movement of the soil caused when ice lenses are formed. These ice lenses create pressure against your home’s foundation causing it to move. When your foundation moves or shifts, structural damage may occur inside and outside your home. As a result, you may start seeing cracks in the walls or discover some of your doors and windows no longer latch easily. 

Leaks and seepage 

Thawing ice and melting snow will make the soil saturated. With nowhere to go, the excess water will force its way through crevices, openings, and cracks in your foundation and seep inside. This water can worsen cracks and set the stage for secondary problems. 

Higher energy bill 

A foundation that has shifted makes it easier for cold outdoor air to enter your home through cracks, forcing your heating system to work harder to maintain comfortable room temperatures. So, if you notice that your energy bills are suddenly higher, you may want to have your foundation inspected for damage. 

How to protect your foundation from cold weather 

The best way to protect your home’s foundation from the cold weather is by waterproofing it. Waterproofing measures ensure your foundation doesn’t succumb to frost heave. It prevents water from reaching your foundation, protecting it from shifting in winter. Below are other protective measures. 

Re-grade your yard 

Yard grading helps to prevent water from pooling around your foundation. A good yard should slope away from your foundation in all directions. Ideally, the slope should drop at least two inches every 10 horizontal feet to direct water away from your foundation. 

Clean your gutters 

Another way you can prevent the frost heave cycle is by cleaning your gutters to prevent clogs that can cause water to pool around your foundation. Free-flowing gutters also eliminate ice dams, which can weigh down and damage the guttering system. 

Inspect your downspouts 

Also, make sure to inspect your downspouts and ensure they are angled away from your home. This way, water gets to flow further away from your home. 

Repair cracks 

Inspect your home’s exterior for cracks and fix them as soon as possible. Freezing temperatures are not good for pre-existing cracks and gaps. As the temperatures drop, your concrete foundation contracts. When the temperatures start rising, the cracks start widening. Ask your local contractor to fix all cracks before winter sets in. 

Get in touch with Innovative Basement Authority in Fargo, ND, to schedule a free foundation inspection and repair quote today. We’ll help you tackle the effects of cold on your foundation and protect its structural integrity. We use proven and cost-effective solutions that are also durable and specific to your home’s repair needs.

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