Any “born and raised” Illinois resident will tell you that if you want to prepare your home for the snow, you must start early. After all, should the snow melt quicker than expected, it can flood your basement. The state had a brutal winter last year, and it’s possible that we could experience a shocking amount of snow this year as well. Thus, we wanted to cover how to keep your basement dry this winter sooner rather than later—this way, you can thoroughly prepare for inclement weather ahead of time.
A common mistake that homeowners make is turning off their dehumidifiers after summer ends. The problem with this is that condensation can still form on pipes, and this moisture contributes to uncomfortable mugginess in your home. Winter may be cold and (at times) harsh, but this doesn’t mean that your home can’t become hot and sticky—you still must actively prevent humidity.
Check Your Sump Pump
A sump pump is one of the most effective ways to remove water from your basement. Sure, we think about examining our sump pumps before summer starts, but it’s also essential to check if your sump pump works before winter begins. Additionally, keep it clean; if your sump pump clogs before a heavy snowstorm, it’s unlikely that it’ll be able to redirect the melted snow away from your foundation. Finally, remember to inspect your sump pump’s discharge hose and pipe. These fixtures may freeze and become unusable, so remove the discharge hose before the cold strikes, and keep an eye on the discharge pipe.
Create Proper Drainage
Of course, to keep melted snow from flowing into a place where it doesn’t belong, you must prioritize drainage. First, check the drains inside your home for any debris that could eventually clog them. By cleaning them regularly, you can prevent unexpected flooding. On the same hand, remember to keep snow away from outdoor storm drains. Furthermore, if you have window wells, make sure they have several inches of gravel—this way, they can drain correctly. Without gravel, you may run into seepage issues. Lastly, before fluffy white flakes create a blanket over your property, take the time to improve your landscaping. Fix any slopes in your yard, which can unintentionally direct water toward your home. Once you remedy the grading around your home, see if your plants are too close to your foundation. Generally, greenery should be at least a few feet from your home, or else they’ll trap in superfluous moisture that can leak into your living space. Thus, you may have to relocate these shrubs and trees.
Fill in Foundation Cracks
Melted snow can easily trickle into your basement through cracks in your foundation. To keep this moisture from flowing indoors, seal these openings before the first snowfall. If moisture spills into your basement and sits for too long, you may eventually notice water damage on your ceiling, walls, and floor. You may even encounter mold if you don’t fill the cracks quickly enough.
Clean Your Downspouts and Gutters
Gutters and downspouts are essential for channeling away from our homes, and fall is the perfect time to clean gutters and downspouts. Because the leaves are falling at a swift rate, they could collect in your gutters and potentially clog them. During the winter, however, water needs to be able to run through them. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with troublesome ice dams; they can harm your home’s roof, and repairing ice dam damage is incredibly costly. Plus, if they’re broken or have leaks, they won’t work properly, and water will still have a way to enter your home. Repair your gutters as soon as possible, and if necessary, consider adding extensions to downspouts if you haven’t already done so.
Insulate Your Basement
Insulation does a wonderful job at sealing any openings, so the wind won’t blow wet snow into your home. As a bonus, insulation helps your living space stay warm—in other words, you and your family won’t have to live with chilly drafts. If you haven’t already properly insulated your basement, be sure to do so sooner rather than later. Insulate around pipes, too—this way, they won’t burst from the freezing temperatures and cause damage to your home.
Line Your Home with Dirt
The dirt surrounding your home acts as a barrier between moisture and your home’s foundation. It absorbs any excess groundwater, so your living space is certain to stay dry—right? Not quite. Over time, this dirt settles, and it can put unnecessary pressure on your foundation. It can even seep through your walls. Therefore, if you want to maintain an effective, you must continually add soil around your home. Just don’t use an overabundance of soil—you don’t want it to hold too much moisture and rot. The soil level should be below the sill plate, which is between your foundation and your home’s first floor.
Shovel Snow ASAP
As tempting as it is to leave mounds of snow against your home, these only make matters worse. When piled up snow melts, it’s more likely that the water will flood your living space. So, although you probably want to stay bundled up indoors after snow significantly accumulates on your driveway and the perimeter of your home, you should prioritize shoveling it right away. If you have a deck or patio, don’t forget to shovel it as well. Once the snow melts, this moisture still has the potential to be detrimental, especially if the structure slopes toward your home.
For maximum assurance that your home will remain dry all winter long, get a hold of The Real Seal’s trusted professionals. We offer basement waterproofing in the Chicago area—and we only provide our customers with lasting results. Our reviews speak for themselves! From drain tile system installation to foundation repair, our technicians can perform a wide range of fixes on your home. If you’d like to schedule your service, give us a call today. Hurry—the seasons will change before you know it.