Good News! There Are Ways to Prevent It.
Published in Les Maisons under Trucs et Astuces
No building can escape the effects of climate change, which can sometimes be insidious – even in winter. When house foundations are affected, there can be many … and costly repercussions. So, better safe than sorry, as the saying goes!
Héneault et Gosselin, a team of experts in foundation repair, share their valuable expertise in the matter with us.
How climate change can affect house foundations
There are three significant risks for your home foundations in winter that may result from climate change.
According to the National Building Code of Canada 2010 (NBC-2010), house foundations must be built at least four and a half feet down to ensure they are adequately protected from soil movement caused by freezing and thawing.
We now witness more and more episodes of severe cold in winter, due to climate change. As a result, there is less snow on the ground than before. This lack of snow leads to deeper freezing that goes lower than the secure level as determined by the building code. What happens then? The cold can raise foundations by adherence, or ice accumulated in the ground can lift foundations from underneath. Come springtime, cracks due to freezing movements can appear in foundations.
You have probably noticed that periods of thaw are more prevalent than before, with heavier rain in the winter months. These negative effects of climate change can result in serious outcome for your home’s foundations. Rain in winter, when the ground is frozen, cannot be absorbed by the soil. Rainwater accumulates near windows and foundations. Say hello to water infiltrations!
Finally, you should realize that freezing and thawing periods are increasingly frequent in winter. As a result, water accumulated around foundations due to thaw tend to freeze immediately as the thawing is followed by freezing. As ice forms around foundations, it expands against foundations walls, pushing them in, and resulting in cracks and shifts.
How can problems due to climate change be prevented?
Although all the consequences of climate change cannot be avoided, there are ways to prevent water infiltrations and cracks in your residence’s foundations.
The ideal solution for severe freezing episodes and a lack of snow is to lower your house’s foundations to a deeper level, or to protect foundation against freezing if it is already in place. Does your residence have exterior entrances in the basement? In that case, there must be an insulated shelter with a roof built over the staircase to the basement. That way, the stairway will remain temperate and warm which protects the foundation.
During thaw periods, be watchful if there are window wells in the basement. Clean them thoroughly to avoid heaps of dead leaves and thus prevent water accumulation during heavy rains. Make sure that basement windows are six to eight inches above ground. The same goes for eaves: Clean them every fall to ensure good water flow and rain drainage away from foundations.
What should be done in freeze and thaw periods? Is there any draining material in the soil around your home’s foundations? Many people do not know this, but some contractors use non-compliant excavated materials (black earth, clay, rubble, etc.) to backfill around newly constructed foundations. The result? Poor quality frost-susceptible soil that expands and presents a damage risk for the foundations in the medium to long term. That is why it is important to call on professionals such as Héneault et Gosselin who use good draining material and quality membranes to preclude a push against foundation walls and protect them from bad weather.
Whether to prevent cracks or water infiltration, waterproof foundations, protect them against freezing, or stabilize them with piling, entrust your foundations to experts! Héneault et Gosselin will be happy to help you pamper your home!