Risks to your home with sudden snow melt

This frigid year of 2019, has already given us snow fall somewhere around 35-45” in our general area, and this coming weekend another 6-8” of wet snow may dump down on us, followed by a back-to-back winter storm that is predicted for Tuesday.

6′ snow drift along the homes foundation

As we finally are starting to gain hope that the temperature might possibly reach 32°F again, all home owners need to keep in mind that there are some possible dangers in the horizon.  The snow we painfully received will possibly be causing problems in a lot of homes – if we get a sudden snow melt.

While freezing our toes and fingers off, we have inspected hundreds of homes this winter. Honestly, there has not been much to inspect outside as most homes have several feet of snow next to the foundation.

Whether you believe it or not, warmer weather is around the corner giving us a much needed break from frigid temps.  This quick onset of mild weather with frozen ground, and lots of snow can make the perfect combination for surface flooding. This combination brings its own set of challenges.

As snow turns to water it will likely drain back towards the foundation – especially if you have negative grade around your home. With 8 of 10 homes in our area having negative grade chances are your home may require your attention.

Drain tile or weeping tile

As the water drains back towards the home it will run down along the foundation wall and possibly into your basement, or into your drain tile system if you have one. The drain tile will take the water into your sump pump pit, and your sump pump will pump the water back out. The problem is that nearly 50% of the exterior sump pump hoses are still hooked up, buried in snow, and frozen SOLID! Your sump pump will fail to pump the water out, but yet run tirelessly until it overheats and burns out.

As water is seeping into your basement it can damage interior finishes increasing the risk of mold to form. There might also be an increased pressure on the foundation from the water saturating the clay soil.

Exterior sump pump hose is frozen solid

Another surprise for you? Chances are you have limited or no insurance coverage for either seepage or mold remediation, or maybe not even sump pump failure. The good news is that you still have some time to prevent damage to your home.

What can you do?

  1. Remove most of the snow that is located the first 4-6’ from your foundation walls. This should also include your window wells.
  2. Consider removing snow from your roof. Especially if your gutters are clogged. Failure to do so might force water from the roof over the gutter and into your basement. The weight of the snow could in extreme cases even cause damage to the roof structure.
  3. Locate your sump pump pipe on your exterior wall. If the flexible hose is still on, remove it and make sure the pipe is free from ice.
  4. Your sump pump is about to be put to the test. Make sure it’s working. If it is old, consider replacing it even though it works. At one point you must replace your sump pump while it works. When it shuts down it’s typically too late.
  5. Have a 2nd sump pump in hand in case of failure, or even better, install a battery backup system or a water pressured back-up system for your sump pump. This will protect you in case your primary pump will fail. It could also be a good idea to have a water sensor alarm on the floor next to your sump pump pit.

    Water powered back-up system for your sump pump

Only time will tell how quickly our snow will melt, and please understand that everything written in this blog is only a list of possible scenarios.
The melting snow will be a welcoming sight, but it is important to prepare for that sudden snow melt. Now is the time to get ready, so you can enjoy the upcoming milder weather.

To all husbands out there, we apologize in advance for the amount of pressure your wife will put on you, and all the physical pain that you have to get through because of this blog.

Have in mind, it’s better to be proactive than reactive.

Shoveling snow can lead to heart attacks or other physical injuries. We recommend consulting with your doctor or hiring a professional snow removal contractor if you have a history of heart related health problems, or diabetes.