Winterizing Your Home Checklist
Prudent homeowners have a checklist of fall chores to prepare their home and property for the upcoming winter months when snow and ice can play havoc. Among the checkmarks you want to make on your own list is to keep your basement dry and sound. The elements can be nasty in the winter and you don’t want your home to suffer. While the goal is to keep your foundation from being damaged by the winter weather, not all the tasks directly involve the basement.
Outdoor winterizing – troughs and downspouts
Inspect your troughs and downspouts for clogs or debris. Fall colours are lovely but those leaves eventually fall and some will make their way into your eaves troughs. Getting rid of any materials that can clog up the troughs is a priority. Once you’ve cleaned them, consider covering them with netting to keep leaves and twigs out. Make sure the downspouts are running free as well – directing water away from your home and not allowing it to pool at the base of your foundation. Did you know that downspouts should be directing water at least six feet away from your home? These fixtures are aids to direct water away from damaging your property, you need to make sure they are doing exactly that.
While you are working outdoors, check that the soil is graded away from the walls of your home too. When the cold temperatures arrive, the soil will harden and if the slope of the soil goes toward your foundation walls you will get rain water pooling and, eventually ice forming, right at the base of your home which can potentially cause cracking of the concrete.
Do you have landscaping that is getting overgrown, allowing the roots to damage the masonry? Now that the leaves on bushes have thinned and your garden put to bed for the winter, can you check for any cracks on the exterior walls of your home. Water finds the path of least resistance and a crack is inviting problems.
Basement window wells
Have a good look at the basement windows and window wells when you are preparing your home for winter. Most basement windows are at least partially at the base of your home. Look for cracks in the panes, damaged or rotting window frames and replace them before the snow flies. You might need to re-apply caulking to the window frames to keep out moisture. Make sure the window wells are clear and consider covering them for the winter to keep snow and ice away from freezing there.
Indoor winterizing – basement clues
Conduct a thorough inspection of your basement for any signs of water damage before the snowy weather begins. You should be looking for: cracks in the flooring or walls; signs of mildew or mould; problems with the carpeting or door frames; peeling or bubbling paint; white staining on the surfaces. Any of these conditions are signs of water or moisture getting into your basement.
If there are cracks or fissures in the flooring or walls of your foundation you are likely to get water leakage into the basement. Water looks for the easiest route and those cracks will allow flowing rain water or melting snow to enter your home. With winter in Canada, we often experience large fluctuations of temperatures so water can fill a small crack and freeze solid expanding it to make the flaw even larger.
Mildew or mould
Moisture that is allowed to sit around untreated can create the perfect conditions for the growth of bacteria and mildew. Often you can detect a dank, musty smell as you go down the basement stairs. That unpleasant smell is a sign that you need to find where the moisture has collected and trace where the water is getting into the basement.
Mould is more dangerous to your family’s health and should only be treated by professionals. Mould is made up of spores that can seriously impact individuals especially if they already suffer from a respiratory ailment.
On occasion you will see white staining on unfinished basement floors or walls, this too is a sign that moisture is seeping in through the concrete dissolving salts and minerals and bringing them to the surface.
You might have water problems if the carpeting or other flooring develops a soft, spongy feeling. Make sure the drains have not been accidentally blocked by renovations to your basement. Inspect the walls for signs that excess moisture is damaging the paint or wallpaper. If you haven’t refinished your basement, you might want to consider having it waterproofed first to avoid any future problems!
You can avoid problems with water in your basement by calling in the professionals to conduct a thorough inspection and provide you with basement waterproofing plan. The professionals at City Wide Group can outline either exterior or interior waterproofing that will ensure that your basement is dry and will remain dry no matter what the weather throws your way.