Winter Storms and Runoff Create Problems for Basement Foundations

With a little knowledge and the right expert help, you can knock homeowner worries out of this year’s wave of winter storms. Learn where winter threats are most likely to attack your home and how you can take steps now to protect yourself from costly damage.

Olshan Foundation Repair Expert Shares Advice

Aaron Goucher, General Manager of Olshan Foundation Repair in Kansas City, recently shared vital tips in a recent story about harsh winter weather from KMBZ Radio. For all the havoc these big storms can wreak on foundations and plumbing, there’s hope for the homeowner who knows how to stay alert and plan ahead.

Aaron explained how the Kansas City area climate can have a direct impact in and around your home. “We’ve been experiencing drought conditions over the middle to late part of 2018, which creates settlement issues.” After a big rain or snow, the issues can worsen.

Hydrostatic Pressure May Leave Your Basement Vulnerable

After a season of soil settlement, foundations can be even more vulnerable to the effects of “hydrostatic pressure,” Goucher said. Hydrostatic pressure is the force that groundwater can exert on the support structures under and around your basement. Gravity can cause even small amounts of water to put a surprising amount of pressure on your foundation and the soil around it. At about sixty pounds per square foot of water volume, this can add up to enough soil movement (and water infiltration) to cause serious structural damage over time.

The parts of your house that extend underground may be blocking the natural flow of ground water around your property. Tiny voids in even the highest quality concrete can gradually allow enough water to seep in to leave traces like this in your house:

  • White or grey salt deposits (efflorescence) on walls or floor
  • Strange smells or excess humidity in your basement
  • Insect infestations, or the appearance of mold or mildew
  • Walls that bow inward or outward, or show signs of cracking
  • In serious cases, you may begin to see puddles or flooding in basement areas

These symptoms can quickly appear out of nowhere or get visibly worse during times of heavy storm runoff. This is especially true when your home is on the downhill side of normal groundwater flow. Water sitting behind basement walls and foundation slabs may not knock them down, but it will find and fill each invisible opening in the surface of the concrete it touches.

Protecting Your Foundation After a Storm

cracks on houseIf you see any of these common warning signs, it’s important to do an evaluation. You may want to consider bringing in a structural expert to help you evaluate the risk and recommend the right repair strategies. The longer you wait, the more damage can build up, risking costly structural damage to your house.