Common Causes of Winter Basement Leaks: Tips to Pinpoint and Fix the Problem

From the hours of shoveling snow to burst pipes, when it comes time for winter, chances are there are many things you will worry about. One of the last items on your winter worry list is probably your basement because you don't expect to have a leak or minor flooding while the ground is frozen. Unfortunately, your basement isn't safe from leaks or flooding, no matter what the temperature or season is. Here are a few of the most common causes of winter-related flooding and what you can do to protect your basement.

All That Snow

When the snow starts piling up, chances are you aren't worried about where the snow you shovel lands; you just want to make sure it's off your sidewalks and driveway. Unfortunately, if the snow begins to pile up around your home's perimeter, all that excess moisture has to go somewhere, and that somewhere will be your basement.

During those blissfully warm days that sneak their way into winter, all those snow banks hugging the perimeter of your home will begin to melt, and that melting snow can cause some serious damage to your basement.

The best way to prevent snow-related water damage is to clear away the snow from around the outside of your home. Creating a gap between the snowbanks and your home will help ensure that when the snow does finally melt, it doesn't make its way into your home.

In addition to clearing away snow from your home's perimeter, there is another option that can help protect your basement throughout the winter and every other season: waterproofing. There are a variety of interior and exterior basement-waterproofing options that can help keep your basement and everything you store there dry.

Unattended Gutters

If cleaning your gutters was a chore you simply didn't get to in the fall, you might pay for skipping this job once winter rolls around. When your already packed gutters become filled with moisture and snow, all that water will begin spilling out onto the ground and finally making its way into your basement.

The best way to prevent this issue is to either clean out your gutters or have a professional take on this task. Don't put off cleaning your gutters because in addition to a leaking or flooded basement, you could wind up causing serious damage to the roof and the gutters themselves.

Frozen Sump Pumps

You're beginning to notice a small amount of moisture forming in your basement, but luckily, you installed a sump pump to protect your home. Unfortunately, if you don't monitor your sump-pump system during the winter, it can be seriously damaged by frozen water.

The best way to prevent damage caused by frozen water is to keep the water flowing through the intake and discharge line. If the water begins to pool, it is more likely to freeze and cause some serious damage.

Luckily, there are several things you can do to prevent your sump pump from freezing during the winter. For example, if the line from the sump pump is lying on flat ground, create a slight slope by digging out the soil beneath. This will allow gravity to do its work and cause the water to continue flowing from the pump and out of your home.

In addition to this, consider insulating the intake and discharge line. This will once again prevent water from pooling and eventually freezing. If you're not sure which product to use for insulation, go ahead and ask a professional such as John's Waterproofing for assistance.

According to the National Flood Insurance Program, floods are the number-one cause of disasters in the United States and lead to over $3 billion in insurance claims each year. Don't be another victim of a preventable basement leak and flood and instead learn how to protect your home during the winter. 


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