The Weather, Water, and your Basements


Snow, rain, hail, freezing rain, rain and even more rain.  We got it all in the last 24 and the next 24 hours is not much different.

First thing this morning 2 people asked me about this weather and if it increased roof leak risks.   Any time you have prolonged precipitation there is always a chance to discover any developing roofing failure but this morning is not a particularly high risk condition.

Your basement however is another story.

We’ve been blessed with a relatively mild winter so far this year.  And that means that we’ve not had the prolonged periods of extreme cold that cause the ground frost to freeze to deeper depths.  Last year we had pipes bursting and water lines freezing all over the place.

This winter the frost depth is not especially deep and around the perimeter of most homes the ground will not be frozen for a few inches next to the foundation basement walls.  This is normal and is a result from heat loss from the homes interior.  (Remember insulation does not stop heat transfer – it just slows down the rate of that transfer.)

Given these current ambient conditions the areas next to your house are the water routes for ground absorption, while your lawn, drive and walkway surfaces are sealed (frozen, therefore sealed until it thaws).  That creates the condition conducive for water to build up in the ground outside your basement walls.

The effect is as if your house was sitting in a puddle.  Unless of course, you have excellent groundwater drainage.  For example if your soil is a thick layer of gravel or sand the water won’t stay.  Unfortunately for the majority of us the soil is clay.  When that’s the case, the water is going nowhere.

That’s why your basement has a higher chance of leaking during this weather.

To be proactive about it I’d recommend checking your sump pump pit and pump.  Verify the pump is plugged in and working.

All lower basement wall surfaces should be clear and open to air circulation, everywhere, including closets.  Monitor these areas more closely from now and through the spring thaw. Look for signs of water, staining or odour.

Call me for further consultation if you, or your referrals, see suspect conditions.  I can evaluate what it is, how serious it may be and counsel you on how to economically manage, mitigate or correct the situation.

Robert Butler               514 914 1249                 







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