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What Does the Freezing Winter Weather Do to the Foundation?

As it gets colder around and under your foundation, frost and water will attack the structural supports and compromise them.

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Like or hate the cold weather in Cleveland, OH, it’s going to put your concrete foundation to the test. Snow, ice, and frost can all take their toll on your structure. Your foundation may develop cracks or cave in as the ground sinks. Act before the winter sets in, as you’ll have little control over what happens to the foundation. But first, let’s see what the cold does to do your foundation before we look at remedies. 

cold on your foundation

Ways the Cold Affects the Foundation 

Cold weather does affect the concrete foundation beneath your home. Whenever the ground freezes and thaws, the soil heaves and contracts. This is what’s known as the frost-heave cycle. Frost heave occurs when the underlying soil restrains ice and it solidifies into the shape of a lens. So strong are the ice lenses that they can crack and damage the foundation. The cyclic changes make the foundation soil unstable. The degree of damage increases if temperatures drop for three consecutive days. 

First, the freezing cold causes ice to form under your concrete foundation, which results in frost heave. The upheaval that follows pushes up the soil on which the foundation rests. When temperatures drop, the ice melts and the ground collapses bringing down the foundation. 

Freezing always starts on top and progresses downwards. As freezing continues, the soil below the foundation starts lifting the upper soil. This is what destabilizes and creates gaps or spaces beneath your foundation. 

Winter Protection Measures 

Severe cold and ice can cause the water pipes under your home to break. Make sure these pipes are wrapped so they won’t freeze hard. Ruptured water lines can let water penetrate the concrete slab or flood the crawl space. Remember to disconnect hoses that are attached to the faucets on the outside. 

Your exposed foundation is vulnerable to frost heave. Cover it with an insulating blanket or a plastic sheet, which is reusable and simple to roll. Foam panels, insulated tarps, and insulation batts are your other options. Re-tarping the foundation prevents thermal shock to the concrete. 

If you don’t have foundation waterproofing or foundation drainage, install and brace it on the inside then backfill it with gravel right up to the frost line in your area. Curtain drains will intercept surface runoff and prevent groundwater before it seeps into the foundation. 

While the garage isn’t factored for heating, frost penetration remains a risk and may come out of the ground faster than any part of your home. Installing a garage footing and wall system can reduce the time for frost jacking. 

Don’t forget to clear and fix your loose gutters and downspouts. Make sure they are also draining properly. These will help you move melting snow and ice. 

Also, check the perimeter of your home. Make sure there’s no pooling around or along the foundation. If you discover low spots or water puddles on the exterior wall, make these points and ask your local contractor to come and fix the problem. 

Take the Next Step 

The cold won’t just affect your family but your foundation, the most important part of your home. Frost and ice in Cleveland can trigger foundation shifts, which can cause wall cracks and uneven floors. Take precaution now so you won’t have to deal with the stress of repairing the foundation or basement when it’s freezing outside. 

Why not schedule a free foundation inspection and repair quote and discover areas that need attention? The experts at Ohio Basement Systems will assess the foundation and what repairs are due and what you can do to protect it from the harsh cold that’s coming.

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