Why Do Basements Leak in Winter?

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December 14, 2022

Why Do Basements Leak in Winter?

During the winter, it might seem like you should be safe from basement leaks, especially if there’s no snow melt, but the reality is that winter can cause all kinds of damage to your basement— especially on the coldest days!

Let’s take a look at the reasons.

Temperature Fluctuations

One of the biggest problems that you run into during the winter is fluctuations in temperature. This has been happening more often in recent years, and we had a great example in the Pittsburgh area on Christmas Eve of 2022.

An Arctic front moved in, and temperatures dropped to as low as -13 degrees, a low that matched the record set back in 1983. But then the temperature rose quickly, and within a few days it reached the 50s and even the low 60s.

When quick freeze/thaw cycles happen, it puts tremendous stress on your foundation.

These are the forces that split rocks and break boulders away from mountains, so the average basement can’t escape some damage, especially if there are multiple freeze/thaw cycles during the winter months.

During warmer days, snow and ice will melt, entering the tiniest of cracks in your foundation. Then the freeze expands the water and any existing cracks in your basement widen. This goes on until the water can flow freely into your basement.

Has that happened to you this year?

D-Bug Waterproofing can help you right now. Call us at 855-381-1528 or contact us today.

Basements Radiate Heat

Another problem is that your foundation radiates heat. While your basement may not be the hottest room in your house, it’s certainly warmer than the ground surrounding your home.

When the radiant heat leaving your basement can warm the ground outside to a temperature above freezing, the ice crystals embedded in the soil will begin to melt.

If the landscaping around your basement is not sloped correctly, or if there is no French drain around your foundation, then the meltwater created by the heat will seek out the tiniest of cracks or the smallest of pathways by which it may enter your home.

In this way, your basement contributes to its own localized freeze/thaw cycles.

Broken or Improperly Installed Systems

Another common cause of water in your basement is one or more home systems that are worn, broken, or improperly installed. This can range from a broken sump pump to a clogged French drain, from gutters filled with ice dams to broken window wells, clogged drains, or damaged downspouts and rain leadoffs.

If your sump pump stops working, your downspouts are draining too close to your home, or you have gutters or window wells that aren’t doing their jobs, you can end up with water settling into the soil beside your foundation, which ultimately will find its way into your basement.

Got a Leak in Your Basement? We Can Help

With over 75 years of waterproofing experience dealing with leaking basements in southwestern PA, we know what it takes to get the job done. To schedule your free inspection, call D-Bug Waterproofing at 855-381-1528 or contact us today.