Love it or hate it, there’s not much you can do about snow until the weather starts to warm up. Whether you’re one of those rejoicing at winter’s end or mourning the last of those brisk, chilly days, winter will eventually end and the snow will start to melt.

Melting snow can cause many of the same problems homeowners encounter during heavy rains. Luckily, there are steps you can take in the winter to help mitigate the effects snowmelt can have on your home and its foundation.

How can you predict how much meltwater is coming your way? The amount of snowmelt depends on the snow (what kind, how dry it is, etc.), but in general, thirteen inches of snow translates into one inch of rain.

Whether your snow lasts all season long or melts within a few days, it’s important that your home is ready to handle the meltwater. Avoid flood damage by ensuring that everything is in order, and follow these steps to protect your home.

How to Manage Melting Snow

To be fully prepared for snowmelt season, professionals recommend taking steps throughout the year to ready your home. Performing seasonal waterproofing maintenance leaves your home better protected from heavy rain as well as melting snow.

That said, there are some situations that will require a professional. If you’re having basement flooding or moisture issues, call a waterproofing specialist to assess your situation. Every home is different, and a professional can help diagnose your issues and develop the best solution for your property.

When to call a pro:

  • Basement flooding
  • Stains on the walls
  • Damp, musty odors
  • Peeling paint
  • Rust
  • Cracks in your walls or floor
  • Water accumulation in basement windows
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Winter

Exterior preparation:

  • Don’t pile snow near or against your home. Snow piled against your house will melt straight down to your foundation.
  • Clean out your gutters and downspouts. Your gutters need to be ready to handle melting snow from your roof.
  • Clear stairwells, window wells, and egress exits. Remove snow and ice from these areas, and make sure any stairwell or egress drains are clear as well.
  • Check on any sump pump discharge lines. Discharge lines should be on a slope without any low points where water can accumulate and freeze.
applying damp-proof coating to foundation

Interior preparation:

  • Perform any required sump pump winter maintenance.
  • Waterproof any unfinished surfaces. Protect concrete floors and walls.
  • Repair cracks in walls and floors before they get worse.
  • Fill joints and any spaces between floors and walls.

Spring

 
  • Snow can cause damage to your gutters, and that damage needs to be repaired before the next round of storms arrive.
  • Winter weather can also wreak havoc on your landscaping, leaving holes that messes with the grading.

Summer

 
  • Warmer weather means there’s a greater risk for dangerous mold and mildew growth. Look out for warning signs in your basement (mold, mildew, and wet patches). A wet basement can cause mold and mildew issues throughout your home.
  • Summer storms are also the perfect opportunity to check on how your house and any drainage systems are handling water.

Fall

 
  • Clean out your gutters, and make sure downspouts are clear. The last thing you want is snow melting on your roof and clogged gutters.
  • Fall is also your last chance to fix any grading problems before the ground becomes too cold to work with. Improving the grade of your landscape is an effective way to control where melting snow goes.

How Snowmelt Can Damage Your Home

snow piled high in front yard of house

A warm home creates a warm foundation that makes it more likely for the soil and snow around your home to melt. If snow melting near your home has nowhere to go except the thawed soil near your foundation, it will exert pressure on and cause stress to your foundation.

These areas are especially vulnerable to damage from melting snow:

  • Cracks in foundation, walls, or floor
  • Where the floor meets the wall
  • Top of foundation wall
  • Window and door frames

Snowmelt can also cause basement flooding, moisture problems, and foundation leaks and cracks. Each poses its own unique risk and can lead to serious issues for you and your home.

  • Flooding wreaks havoc on your foundation and anything in your basement (electrical systems, appliances, furniture, flooring, etc.).
  • Excess moisture creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew to thrive.
  • If you have water seeping into your foundation and it freezes, cracks can form. Over time, tiny cracks can become more serious issues as they grow, so it’s important to have leaks fixed as you find them.

Bottom Line

 
  • Keep water from snowmelt draining away from your home and foundation. Don’t pile snow near or against your home.
  • Clean your gutters so the meltwater from your roof will flow through the downspouts.
  • Call a professional to handle any basement flooding or moisture issues.
  • Clear snow from all stairwells and windows.
  • Ensure that any drains around your home are clear of ice or debris.
  • Take advantage of warmer weather to perform any landscaping or grading work that needs to be done.
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