February 19, 2016
Earlier this month it was snow, snow, snow, now it is melt, melt, melt. Melting snow puts moisture in the soil profile that benefits crops and ornamentals next summer, but it may also cause problems. Seepage or leakage problems most often occur in the basement or crawl spaces when snow and ice are melting and when frost is beginning to leave the ground. It can also occur during heavy rains.
Seepage is the movement of groundwater through pores in the basement walls. It may appear as a damp spot in an isolated area or in many spots. Leakage is the movement of groundwater through the wall. Entry for leakage is water moving through cracks or joints in the wall while seepage is water moving through pores in the wall material.
In order for either of these conditions to happen the soil near the basement foundation wall must be very wet or saturated. There is usually a weak spot where water infiltration can occur. The problem can occur following a drought or extremely dry conditions and the soil next to the foundation has pulled away leaving cracks that will fill with water as the snow melts. It is important to keep the area around down spouts clean so water can run away from the foundation as it melts from the roof and gutters.
If you have a problem of water getting into your home it is necessary to clean it up immediately so mold doesn’t have a chance to develop. First, try to locate the source of the problem and correct the problem as much as possible at the time.
Next, start the cleanup process. If there is a large amount of water it may be necessary to use a wet-dry vac or get professional help in cleaning it up. For small leaks you may be able to absorb the water with large towels or place a towel where the leak is to catch the water. Dry the area with fans. Hard surfaces will be easier and faster to dry and clean than porous or carpeted areas. If you have had problems with water in the past, be sure to check the areas often during this melting time.
Areas to check even if you haven’t had problems before would be window wells, corners, behind and under furniture or items against the walls. Also check closets and storage rooms in the basement.
Check around the outside of your home. Clean snow off patios, decks and other areas where it may collect. Clean the area around the down spouts so they can drain and provide a way for water to run away from the house. If soil has settled creating a low area along the foundation, you may need to add soil later this spring so water naturally drains away from rather than towards the foundation.
If you have a lot of ice and snow on the roof, watch for water leaking through the ceiling or inside the walls due to an ice dam and causing damage in the attic or already coming through to the ceiling.
Remember, summer will be here soon and we’ll appreciate the moisture then that are making a muddy mess now and wish for some of the cooler weather we’ve had in late winter and early spring.