We live in an area of deep winter freezing, and the potential for frost heaves is very possible. It is interesting to note that not everyone understands just what a frost heave might be and how this phenomenon can harm a foundation. So, the frost heave is simply when freezing temperatures have penetrated deep into the soil. As more water is pulled in from unfrozen soil to the area of ice, it continues to build a “lens”. This forces soil above it to part and leads to a “heave” in the soil.
How on earth could that play a role in foundation damage? When the top levels of soil freeze and thaw (which creates suction), the pattern causes more and more water to be drawn into the area. This creates a lot of uneven pressure that can cause even a perfectly strong and well-made foundation to shift and crack. If that foundation is in an area of silt terrain or high water, the draining can be so poor as to leave the area at risk for regular frost heaves. NOTE: sand, gravel and grainy soils are much less likely to form frost heaves because of their overly porous natures.
Can you protect a home from the risks of frost heave? Actually, you can work with experts to make adjustments that can make it less likely to occur. For instance, experts say that you can:
- Have upper level and below the soil reservoirs made to redirect water away from the foundation
- Replace silty and unfavourable soils around the foundation with the more porous types
- Insulate the foundation to reduce heat loss and prevent frost from occurring
Of course, this is a list of preventative measures that can only reduce the risks of foundation damage in the winter or spring seasons due to frost heaves. Even if you have experts step in and assess your risks; taking some of the preventative measures above, you may still find foundation damage in the winter months.
That means you will also need to know when it might be time to contact an expert if a winter season frost heave has done its nasty work. In the past, we’ve provided readers with a simple list of signs to tell you if there could be foundation problems. These include:
- Doors and windows do not open as they did in the past
- Basement walls seem to bow inward
- Visible signs of sinking on the foundation area
- Sheetrock or wallpaper have wrinkled or bowed
- Cracks in the foundation (inside or outside)
- Tile floors are cracked
Even a single one of these signs means it is time to get in touch with experts. Whether it is in the very middle of the winter season or the first glorious weeks of spring, any sort of problem with a foundation means it is time to seek expert help. Your home is your greatest investment and requires constant care. The team at The Foundation Experts, Inc. has been offering property owners to help with all foundation related problems for decades and are ready to help you this winter if needed.