Winter home maintenance is important, especially when it comes to keeping your basement or foundation dry and healthy. This goes beyond simple basement waterproofing to fully preparing your home to resist the colder temperatures and inclement weather that show up December through early March. Basement issues can quickly turn into whole-house issues. We’ll help you understand what to look for when protecting your basement, how to keep it safer, and when to call in experienced professionals to help you out.
Structure and Space
It’s tempting to think of the basement as just another room. Added space tacked on under the home. The opposite is closer to the truth, however, with your basement providing the firm base and structural support for the rest of the house. All the pressures of your home’s load-bearing walls, joints, and supports are built to transfer stresses and weights down to the foundation and into the ground surrounding it. It does also provide space that some families choose to use to store personal property, extend their living space, or to keep major appliances and home systems–like washers, dryers, or furnaces–sequestered away from family areas. The basement is also often used to route utilities neatly and cleanly throughout the house in the form of wires, cables, and pipes. We ask a lot from our basements, which is why you can’t afford to forget your winter home maintenance.
Keeping Your Basement Healthy All Winter Long
A healthy basement starts with preparation and prevention. Freezing temperatures, added moisture, and biting winds can all do a number on the structure of your basement, its contents, and the home it supports. By taking care of a few key areas, you’ll be in a much better position to identify issues, monitor changes, and address damage before it jeopardizes your home.
A primary risk factor for basements is water leaking in through cracks, moisture that becomes trapped, or water from leaking pipes becoming trapped, where it can do the most damage. Moisture can rot wood, destroy your personal property, and attracts bests like bugs and rodents who are looking for a source of warmth, food, and water. All basement floor and wall cracks should be sealed, windows closed, and any vents to the cold outside air should be covered. Any damage to your basement walls or floor should be investigated and repaired to ensure they aren’t an indicator of a larger problem.
Check Your Sump Pump
As part of your winter basement maintenance, your basement’s sump pump should be checked to ensure it’s functioning correctly and any backup batter or generator stands ready to give you the power you need to effectively move water out of and away from your basement. These powerful pumps take water collected in pits or ditches at the lowest point of your home and move it outside the general area of your home’s foundation and the Earth directly adjoining it, decreasing the risk of oversaturation that can increase the hydrostatic pressure against your basement walls.
When water freezes, it expands. This can lead to burst pipes and quickly flooding basements. Insulate all exposed pipes with sheets of foam insulation secured with tape or zip ties. While the pipes in a basement may see safer, cold air entering the basement is drawn up and through floorboards past those pipes, colling them rapidly. While your basement should be sealed and free of drafts, insulation adds one more layer of protection to avoid repair bills and water damage to your property.
Address Your Appliances
Many of us use our basements as laundry/utilities, furnace rooms, and that means winter basement maintenance needs to include these appliances. Dryer ducts should be cleaned out to avoid fires, use the manufacturer’s recommended amount of mainline cleaner in your washer drain, and change the filters on your furnace. As you work in these areas, make sure to look for signs of wear or damage around all pipes and fittings, ensure wires haven’t been chewed or show signs of fraying, and install pipe insulation or heating cords as necessary to ensure their health through the colder months.
Don’t Forget The Downspouts
Your gutters and downspouts may not be in your basement, but they play a big role in protecting it from water damage. Gutters collect the precipitation that lands on your roof, whether it’s in the form of rain or snow melt, then directs it into the downspouts to be returned to the ground and moved away from your foundation. Just as with pipes, trapped water can expand and burst your downspouts. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear of debris, have covers in place, and are designed to efficiently guide the water out and away from your home.
Putting it Off and Adding it Up
Whether it’s due to holiday bills, cold temperatures, or just the desire to avoid the repair process as long as possible, too many people avoid winter basement maintenance and repairs. The rationale is that if you don’t look for problems, you won’t find problems and need to pay for professionals to repair them. Unfortunately, basement waterproofing issues and damage don’t care if you look for them or not. Often, the treatment, repair, or mitigation costs are far lower if you catch an issue early. Ignorance, when it comes to home repair, is not bliss–it’s expensive.
Protecting and Repairing Your Basement
We’re the local basement waterproofing and repair experts your neighbors call when they need help. Our experienced specialists will schedule a visit and perform a free inspection to assess the risks and existing damage to your property. They’ll give you a written estimate that lays out your options and help you understand the process of restoring the integrity of your home’s foundation. We’re ready to help your home. Call and schedule a basement winter maintenance or repair estimate from A.M. Wall Anchor & Waterproofing today.