Water in the basement. Four words that no homeowner ever wants to hear. Yet, we are hearing it much more frequently this year. Here is why:
- Winnipeg homes are built on silt and clay, not bedrock. So the ground here is constantly moving and settling.
- We had a very dry summer in 2018. As many of you likely will have noticed, this caused the ground around your house to dry up, crack, and in most cases pull away from the foundation walls of your home.
- This left larger gaps than usual leaving empty air pockets between the soil and your home.
- We then had a very cold winter that started with very little snow. So the ground froze, and it froze more deeply than typical.
- We then had high levels of snow toward the end of the winter (SO MUCH SNOW!)
- Up until the last two weeks, the weather has been fairly cold, however now we are suddenly hitting high, well above freezing, temperatures.
- These high temperatures, while very welcome after this frigid winter, are causing the snow to melt very rapidly.
- Your house emanates heat, so the soil that melts the quickest will be the soil adjacent to your house.
- Water will find the path of least resistance, so it is finding its way into the gaps left by the dry soil conditions of last year and sitting against your house.
- Eventually this water has to go somewhere. So if there were snap-ties used in construction of your house that have rusted at all, it may work its way in through those small holes. Alternatively, even if your weeping tile is working water can still find its way up under your basement floor slab and foundation walls (they are separate systems that aren’t connected), and appear as seepage.
So what does this mean? If you have already discovered water, I know how disheartening and concerning it is. Logan and I have experienced it in our own home in the past. But rest assured, it is not necessarily a foundation crack, or failing foundation. So don’t go too crazy tearing down drywall (or wood panelling if you are so lucky) to investigate yet. Here is what the home inspectors have told us:
- Prevention is the first line of defence. Prevent that water from hanging out around your foundation. Try redirecting it for now as it is still too early to do grading work. You can buy inexpensive pumps that attach to a garden hose to pump pooling water away from your yard and foundation
- Get remaining snow away from your house. Yes, the people that shovel their yards do look crazy, but there is method to their madness. Spread that snow out around your yard and away from your foundation
- If you have a window well, do not let snow build up in it. Shovel them out, and get that snow away from the house.
- Depending on the age of your home, you may want to talk to a plumber about having your weeping tile flushed out. The weeping tile can become clogged over the years and no longer function properly. An early indicator of whether or not the weeping tile is functioning properly can be found by checking your main drain. See if the pipes leading into it from the weeping tile are wet. If they aren’t, there could be a blockage somewhere along the lines.
- If you have a sump pump, make sure it is functioning properly, that the exterior hose isn’t frozen, and that the water is being directed away from your foundation.
- If the water does manage to work its way in, don’t let it linger. Get a dehumidifier and some fans set up. Keep the air moving and get the area dry. The last thing you want is mold forming.
- When it warms up, work on improving the grading around your home. Remember, we always want the ground around your home sloping away from your foundation. There should be no areas where water can sit and pool near your foundation. This is an ONGOING homeownership task. The ground is constantly settling, so it is important to check every year to ensure you are maintaining a positive grade away from your home.
- In the summer, water your foundation. Yes, you read that right. If we see dry conditions again this year, in which the ground is cracking and shrinking, it is prudent to water near your foundation wall (usually about 4-5 feet away from your foundation). We want to keep enough moisture in the soil to alleviate gaps from forming between your house and the soil. This is all weather dependent though. In wet years, overwatering may put excessive pressure on the foundation walls.
If you are selling, be sure you disclose the water. I know, it is not a great selling feature. But the last thing you want is for the purchaser of your home to discover you have had seepage issues that were undisclosed during their purchase. These are the types of issues that can come back to haunt you. A good Realtor will know and be aware of the conditions this year and will be able to explain this to their client to alleviate concerns.
Do you feel there is something I have missed? Please reach out!
Tel: (204) 797-7945