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Basement Leaks: Beware of the Melting Snow

Winter is usually the off-season for Maryland basement waterproofing companies. Heavy rains are rare and rarely last long enough to do any damage. Maryland winters are relatively calm and uneventful, except for occasional winter storms that can dump anywhere from a few inches to a few feet of snow. And that’s where a big part of our winter calls come from—melting snow leaking into the basement.

Snow to Water Ratio

In the northern states where snow stays on the ground all winter, the leaky basement problems come in spring. In Maryland, however, the temperatures fluctuate widely, which means the snow doesn’t get to hang around for long. And every major snowfall can wreak havoc on your basement once it starts melting.

Keep in mind that 6 inches of snow doesn’t equal 6 inches of water. As snow returns to its liquid form, it does so at a ratio of about 10 inches of snow to one inch of water. You might think that one inch of water is not a big deal, but it could do a lot of damage to your basement.

Why Your Basement is At Risk

Your basement might be able to easily deal with one inch of summer rain. Melted snow, however, is a different story. Because the top lawyer of the ground is mostly frozen in winter, surface water such as rain or melting snow has a hard time making its way through. But it has to go somewhere, right? It takes the path of least resistance—through the pores in your concrete foundation walls. You’ll be amazed (and alarmed) at how much water and how fast it can make it through those tiny concrete pores.

It gets worse if you have foundation cracks. Cracks themselves get worse over winter, because when water freezes inside them, it expands and makes them bigger. When all these factors converge, you may wake up to a flooded basement on a sunny February morning. If it’s not burst pipes or other plumbing issues, it could be the melting snow.

How to Address Winter Flooding

If it hasn’t happened to you yet, there could still be time to prevent winter basement flooding caused by the melting snow. Just follow these steps and you will feel more confident about your basement when the next big snow storm rolls in:

  • Clear your gutters and downspouts if you don’t have gutter guards—they get filled with leaves and twigs very quickly. This will allow for any roof runoff to move away from the foundation.
  • Be strategic when you are shoveling: don’t pile snow close to your home.
  • Keep an eye on your sump pump—make sure it kicks in during rain and check it for physical damage.
  • Call a professional waterproofing company to fix any existing foundation cracks. If excavation is necessary, this might have to wait for spring.

If you have concerns about your basement, don’t hesitate to give Basement Waterproofing Technologies a call. We can come out and do an inspection to let you know whether your basement could be at risk of flooding.