Cold weather can crack foundations, which can allow water to enter the structure. Water is a foundation’s biggest enemy. When it permeates a structure, it can cause more cracks and many other types of damage.
Foundations can crack in cold weather even if the temperature is above freezing. How cold does it have to be to cause foundation problems? Start checking for damage when temperatures drop below 40 degrees for three or more days.
Winter rains will also cause the soil to expand. The expansion underneath your foundation can propel a foundation upwards, which is called heave. If your home is built on soil that retains a lot of water, the damage soil expansion can cause to your home can be extensive.
If frost develops in the soil, it will increase its volume, which can also heave the foundation. When the frost thaws, a suction is created that draws in more water. Constant freezing and thawing creates uneven foundation pressure as well as foundation shifts.
What can you do to prevent foundation problems in winter? Start with an inspection of your floors, ceilings, walls, doors and windows.
Floors: One way to check for foundation issues is to walk through your house. If there is any bouncing, sagging, slopping or bowing, there’s a good chance you have a foundation construction problem. Gaps between the floor and wall is another bad indicator.
Ceilings & Walls: Look for cracks on interior and exterior wells, as well as cracks in ceilings. Also check your roof for buckled or missing shingles or tiles, and any other evidence of misalignment. If drywall tape has ripped, or is buckling or pulling away from the wall, have your home inspected by a professional foundation repair expert. Also check for cracks or damage on both sides of a foundation crawlspace. You will typically see vertical cracks in walls made of concrete. If the cracks are horizontal or have a stair-like appearance, the real problem may be your foundation and concrete foundationlist repair will be needed.
Doors and Windows: When a hole is cut into a wall, especially for a door or window, it becomes a weak point in the structure. Foundation movement will create gaps between door and window frames. You may also see wall cracks that come from the corners of the windows and doors. In addition to looking for any damage, you should also open and shut the doors and windows to see if they are aligned correctly.
If it starts raining, go outside and look around your home’s exterior walls. Any water accumulating in places around the building can lead to foundation problems. Have the drainage issue fixed immediately.
Do you have a sprinkler system? Sprinkler pipes and heads can crack during the winter. They will need to be checked on a regular basis, along with any other outside pipes and sources of water.