Thursday, November 19th
Cold weather causes frozen downspouts, burst pipes, foundation cracks, and other problems that can negatively impact the basement or crawl space.
Wintertime means cold temperatures, and in many places, snow and ice. No matter where you live, it's important to protect your home against winter weather. Winterizing basement and crawl space areas can reduce energy costs and protect against damaging and potentially costly problems, including water damage.
The good news is winterizing your basement or crawl space doesn't have to be expensive. With a combination of tasks you can do yourself and others that are better suited for a professional, you can make the job work for your budget. Below are several things you (or a professional) can do to protect your home this winter.
While gutters aren’t part of the basement or crawl space, clogged gutters are a common cause of water in the basement or crawl space. When gutters clog, water can spill over the gutters and pool next to the house. When the ground next to the foundation becomes saturated, hydrostatic pressure can force the water into the basement or crawl space through cracks or gaps.
Rigid foam is added to the rim joist to stop air leakage.
The rim joist cavities are a major source of air leakage and heat loss. In the winter, condensation on the cold rim joists can cause mold and rot. Rim joists are located around the perimeter of the basement, on top of the basement walls and below the floor joists. The rim joist supports the weight of the floor resting on the joists. The size of the rim joist cavity depends on the footprint of the house.
There are two options for insulating the rim joists: spray foam or rigid foam. Whichever insulation product you choose, proper application is important to prevent air leakage.
Cracks in the foundation allow water from snow and melting ice to get inside the basement or crawl space. Freezing and thawing can make small cracks bigger. Foundation cracks should be repaired to keep out water and moisture and prevent damage and mold. Crack injection is a common short-term DIY repair method. However, over time, most DIY injection repairs fail due to poor adhesion or a broken seal. In the winter, freezing and thawing can cause movement of the foundation. When this happens, the epoxy can crack.
Exposed pipes in unheated areas, such as the basement or crawl space, are vulnerable to freezing and bursting during the winter. This can lead to expensive water damage and mold. In houses with a boiler room, the heat from uninsulated pipes is lost through the cold concrete walls.
In the winter, leaky basement windows can let in cold air, melting snow and ice, and moisture. Open crawl space vents do the same. If there are exposed pipes, this can increase the risk of the pipes freezing and bursting.
Exposed ductwork in an uninsulated basement or crawl space will be the same temperature as the temperature of the air in the unconditioned space. In the winter, warm air inside the ducts is cooled by the cold ducts. This makes the furnace run longer and work harder to warm up the air. Leaky ducts are one of the most significant causes of high heating and cooling bills.
The IceGuard device protects against flooding caused by a frozen sump pump discharge hose.
It’s normal for a sump pump to run in the winter when water from melted snow and rain accumulates in the sump pit. When it does, it’s important for the discharge line to be clear to allow the water to exit the basement or crawl space. In the winter, buried discharge lines can clog with snow and ice, preventing water from flowing through the hose. If the sump pump discharge hose freezes, the sump pump is forced to work harder and can overheat and fail.
When the temperatures start to drop, one of the most common questions from homeowners with a sump pump is “How do I stop my sump pump discharge from freezing?” Disconnecting the sump pump hose is an option, but forgetting to reconnect it can result in a flooded basement or crawl space.
Based on your climate, knowledge, and DIY capabilities, these tips can help you create a list of winterizing to-dos. If you need professional help, your local Basement Systems dealer can help with rim joist and wall insulation, downspout extensions, minor crack repairs, sealing basement windows, crawl space vents and insulation, and adding discharge hose protection. Contact your local basement repair or crawl space repair contractor to schedule a free consultation and estimate.
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