Wintertime can be problematic for homeowners in the colder parts of the country. From ice dams in the gutters to foundation issues, homeowners could find themselves having to repair a significant amount of damage in the spring. “Frost heave” is the term for the buckling of the ground in cold weather. It is the result of water in the soil freezing and expanding. The damage from frost heave is just one of the ways that winter can wreak havoc on a home’s concrete elements. “The shifting of earth due to frost heave can cause serious cracks in a foundation. Foundation cracks are often the source of water damage and severe structural issues that can be expensive to repair,” said StableLift Foundation Repair owner Brent Goodman.
How Frost Heave Damages Foundations
In the warmer seasons, the ground around the home’s foundation will contract because there is not much moisture in it. In the winter, there may be too much moisture because cold temperatures limit the rate at which water will evaporate. When the moisture in the ground freezes and expands, it exerts pressure against the foundation. Soils with finer grains are more susceptible to this heaving effect since they allow water to penetrate while resisting drainage. Clays resist the penetration of water and porous soils drain it away, therefore both of those soil types impede heaving. The pressure exerted on a foundation from frost heaving can be as much as 80,000 pounds per square foot.
Problems Caused by Foundation Cracks
When the snow melts, the soil around a foundation will be saturated with water. If the foundation has any cracks, some of that water may find its way into the home. It is important for homeowners to note that by the time water begins to flow into their home, the foundation damage will be far advanced; they should inspect for signs of seepage before it gets to that point. The results of water seepage can range from toxic mold to a sudden increase in household pests, but most serious are the structural problems that foundation cracks cause. Foundation cracks can result in cracked walls and floors throughout the home. Evidence of frost heave damage may be seen in windows and doors that are difficult to close and in less obvious signs such as separated crown molding.
Steps for Preventing Frost Heave Damage
The main principle behind prevention methods is limiting the saturation of the soil around the home. Effective preventive measures include:
- Correctly Installing Gutters:
An adequate gutter should be in place to direct runoff from the roof away from the home’s foundation. The ground should also slope away from the home at the point of drainage.
- Protecting the Plumbing:
Water from burst pipes is another cause of frost heave and foundation damage. It is therefore important that homeowners make sure that none of their exterior pipes is directly or indirectly exposed to freezing temperatures.
- Soil Replacement:
If the soil around the home is not conducive to drainage, it may be necessary to replace it with material that is granular and porous; this will ensure that it does not become saturated.
In cases where the preventive measures are used, it may be possible to reduce the risk of frost damage to a foundation; however, it will not be possible to eliminate it. in order to repair a damaged foundation, it will be necessary to get the services of a licensed foundation repair contractor.
The team at StableLift Foundation Repair is experienced in fixing a multitude of problems with concrete slab homes. They pride themselves in providing a permanent solution, not just a quick fix. Check out their Facebook for more information.