Although the city’s in a deep freeze now, snow will begin to melt in fits and starts over the next few months, threatening basements with spring floods.
“Flooding is definitely coming our way,” local home inspector Jim Sabo said. “Generally, when we look at houses, it’s the lay of the land. If you have any land draining toward your foundation you have significant risk of water coming in.”
But, he said, that’s something that needs to be addressed in the summer, when landscaping work can be done. For now, it’s all about keeping snow away from the foundation -- an effort that comes with many facets.
Clearing snow from your roof can help mitigate basement flood risks, but local building inspector Mark Tweidt cautions people that climbing a ladder in the ice and snow comes with its dangers.
“I’m a real big proponent of don’t do it yourself, because there have been so many accidents,” he said, adding that there are several people in town who homeowners can hire to clear roofs.
The most important area for them to clear is around eavestroughs, Tweidt said.
“Once it starts to heat up, those eaves are going to be active, so you’ve got to get that snow out of there,” he said. With snow serving as an insulator, ice within eavestroughs melts a lot quicker when snow is removed.
Downspouts should be directed away from the building, otherwise there’s no point in having eavestroughs at all, he noted.
“You’ll want a four to six feet extension on them so that you’re taking water right off your property,” he said.
Looking around one’s house on the ground level, the best line of defense going into the spring is for homeowners to clear snow away from the foundation, both inspectors said.
Generally, when we look at houses, it’s the lay of the land. If you have any land draining toward your foundation you have significant risk of water coming in. - Home inspector Jim Sabo
Sabo cautions that the area around decks and steps should not be ignored, as the ground underneath them often slopes toward the building.
Cracks in a building’s foundation can also pose a risk, Tweidt cautioned, with water flowing directly into the basement through the crack.
“If you’ve got bare walls on the inside, there are things you can do, but outside in the cold elements, that’s tough,” he said.
There are some products homeowners can use that are able to expand and contract with the changes in weather. These are the best to use, he said, otherwise the area will just crack again.
Although these measures can be undertaken in the winter, the bulk of basement flood preparation should take place during the warmer seasons, both inspectors said.
One component is landscaping -- ensuring that water drains away from the house.
Tweidt said that can’t say enough for the importance of well-maintained eavestroughs, with people flooding home repair stores every spring after noticing their eavestroughs are leaking and need replacement.
“That’s the biggest thing you’re going to see in the spring,” he said. “That’s one of the best proactive things you can do with your house.”
Jim Sabo owns and operates Pillar to Post: Professional Home Inspection. Mark Tweidt owns and operates Integrity Home Inspections.