The warm summer months are coming to an end, so it’s time to start planning your seasonal basement and crawl space maintenance to protect your home’s foundation all winter long. While plenty of people put basement cleaning on the to-do list for fall, proper maintenance goes beyond just tidying up. Seasonal care helps you spot issues that may be developing in your home’s foundation, gives you a chance to fix them and offers the opportunity to prevent future damage before it has a chance to occur by properly preparing your basement for the temperature and moisture changes it will face.
Why Your Basement or Crawl Space Needs Seasonal Maintenance
As the weather changes over time, it can take a toll on your foundation’s health. Fluctuating temperatures, ground moisture content, and the continuous pressure of the earth against the walls of your basement or crawlspace can start to take their toll. At first, this may show up as superficial indicators, but if not addressed or repaired, these problems can worsen over time. The results can be extensive damage, an increased risk of mold and pests, large repair and remediation costs, and potentially, the loss of your home. By taking the time to do seasonal basement cleaning and crawl space maintenance, you’re protecting the home you’ve worked so hard for.
Getting Ready To Get Down To Business
Before you start your crawl space maintenance, you need to make sure you have plenty of working room and the best chance possible to spot the warning signs that your foundation is in jeopardy. That means a thorough basement cleaning is in order. Whether you’ve converted your basement to extra living space, use it for storage, or it sits mostly empty as a laundry and utility room, Fall is a great time to get in there with some elbow grease. Many homeowners use this as an opportunity to hold a garage sale to get rid of possessions they no longer need and go through outdated documents and shred old records they’ve been storing with private information on them. Afterward, you can sweep, mop, get rid of cobwebs, and change lightbulbs to get your basement spin-n-span and ready for some serious maintenance.
Think Outside The Box
Start your crawlspace maintenance outside the home. Most foundation issues don’t come from within the walls of your basement or crawlspace but are created over time by conditions that are attacking your foundation from the outside. Starting your inspection and maintenance routine here and working inwards helps you identify potential issues that could be putting your home at risk, even if the damage hasn’t worked its way inside your home yet.
- Cracks and Crevices – Check the entire perimeter of your home’s foundation for signs of foundation issues or damage. While small, spiderweb-like cracks may not be more than surface deep and the result of normal material aging, any larger cracks should be inspected and assessed by a professional. Signs that a wall is sagging or falling away could point to instability that needs immediate professional attention.
- Windows and Vents – Your foundation’s vents need to be closed for the winter to keep out moisture and pests. This can be especially important in the winter months, as the cold air drawn in from outside can potentially freeze pipes and make your whole house harder and more expensive to heat.
- Gutters and Downspouts – Your rain gutters play an important role in protecting your home from the bottom up. They help catch rain and direct it to areas that drain it away from your foundation. This protects your home from flooding and water damage, which not only destroys your personal property but makes basement cleaning and mold remediation more difficult.
- Grading Around Your Home – While doing the outside portion of your inspection, make sure your home’s land still gently slopes away from your foundation. Land changes due to wet seasons, outdoor projects, and home improvement can alter how water flows around your home, guiding it toward your foundation where it can become trapped or do damage.
From The Ground Up
Inside, basement or crawlspace maintenance should be a methodical process that sees you inspect and prepare your entire foundation for the months ahead. While this may sound daunting, as long as no existing damage that needs repair is seen, it can take no more than a few hours.
- Cracks in the Floor or Walls – You’ll once again inspect your basement for signs of cracks that may need professional attention. If a crack is ⅛” wide or larger, it needs to be looked at by a professional that can identify the cause and repair it. Floor cracks can be signs of improperly constructed foundations or flooding issues, while cracks in the wall could point to an increase in pressure pushing against your home’s foundation, which may require wall anchors to stabilize.
- Look for Leaning – If your walls are noticeable slanting, bowing, or otherwise leaning, this could also point to water pressing against them from outside the home. In many cases, wall anchors can restore them to plumb, strengthening your home.
- Drainage Systems and Sump Pumps – Make sure your basement drains are clear and properly functioning. Check for any sign of debris that could stop your sump from properly moving water out and away from your home. If your basement cleaning included modding up a lot of flooding damage, then you already know this area needs to be addressed for better moisture management.
- Windows and Vents – If you weren’t able to make sure your windows and vents were closed from the outside, now is the time to make sure you’re protecting your home from sucking in cold outside air. If you notice any cracks or there is a large amount of air escaping through or around the sills even when closed, it’s time to make vent repair part of your crawlspace maintenance.
- Pest Control – Pests love unkempt basements. There’s plenty of cover to hide in, and messy basements offer the warm temperatures, moisture, and food they need to survive. As part of your crawl space maintenance, you got rid of the welcome mat by cleaning your basement from bottom to top. Once you’re sure you’ve gotten around, under, behind, and on top of everything, keeping an eye out for signs of pests, treat your crawlspace or basement to prevent their return.
- Insulation and Waterproofing – After your inspection and repairs, consider increasing your foundation’s protection by stopping problems before they start. Moisture barriers, dehumidifiers, and insulated panels can help keep moisture out of your basement and reduce your heating costs by preventing cold air from having an easy path under your floorboards.
Get Your Home Ready For Winter
As your basement waterproofing specialists for over two decades, we’ve earned our customer’s trust one saved home at a time. When you schedule your free inspection, you’ll get expert attention to assess damage, look for potential threats to your basement or crawlspace, and a detailed protection plan giving you a clear path forward to the peace of mind you want for your family home. If your basement or crawlspace maintenance uncovers any signs of foundation issues, the sooner they’re addressed, the better, and we’re ready to help with American-made materials and service backed by our lifetime commitment to your home’s health. Contact AM Wall Anchor & Waterproofing for your free inspection today.