Fall is the perfect time to prepare your home for winter. While many of us in northern Utah enjoy the winters, it does bring unique things to consider for your home. One of the biggest things to guard against during winter is flooded basements. Let’s take a look at what to expect this winter in Logan, UT and how to protect your home.
Why Do Basements Flood in Winter?
You may be wondering what it is about winter that makes it more likely that a basement will flood. In fact, you may not have even realized that basements are more prone to flooding during the winter months. There are several things that can contribute to your basement flooding during the winter. These include improper drainage, burst pipes, and foundation cracks.
1. Improper Drainage
Improper drainage can occur for many reasons. For example, your yard may not be graded in a manner that promotes drainage going away from your home. This can increase the likelihood of a flooded basement. Additionally, gutters that are blocked from fall leaves or from snowfall may result in snowmelt not being channeled effectively as intended. This can also increase the likelihood of basement flooding for your home.
2. Burst Pipes
Another common source of basement flooding is burst pipes. This is a particularly devastating source. Even a small leak can generate a lot of water very quickly. However, a completely burst pipe can result in lots of water filling your basement before you can intervene. Pipes burst during the winter during times of low temperatures outdoors. As sitting water in your pipes begins to freeze, it will increase in size, with the ice placing pressure on the pipes. Sometimes, they will break, generating a leak.
3. Foundation Cracks
Cracks in your foundation are fairly normal and not typically a reason to panic. However, they can be responsible for basement flooding in some situations. During the winter, snow builds up around your home. Typically, the heat from your home causes snow nearby to begin melting first.
With nowhere to go, this melt is absorbed by the ground directly beneath it. It has to go somewhere and will begin to seep into cracks in your foundation, potentially making it into your basement. This is another potential cause of flooding.
What Will This Winter Be Like in Northern Utah?
As you can expect from understanding the different causes of basement flooding, chances are increased by large snowfalls and colder temperatures. Looking at weather models can help us to determine the likelihood of snowfall and cold temperatures this winter in northern Utah. This is the third consecutive winter that La Niña will be affecting the area. This represents a cooling of the Pacific waters nearest the United States, resulting in warmer temperatures in the southwest. This typically affects most of Utah; however, northern Utah is a bit north of the area that is most affected by drier conditions. This ultimately means that we can expect slightly warmer than normal temperatures. However, we will see typical amounts of snowfall and precipitation, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The coldest periods are expected to occur in late December, early-to-mid January, and early February. Ultimately, the risk of basement flooding this year may be slightly less than a typical year. However, it is still important to take adequate precautions, particularly during colder periods of the winter.
How to Prevent a Flooded Basement This Winter
There are a number of things that you can do in order to prevent the likelihood of a flooded basement this winter. Here are some of the top tips for protecting your home from this problem.
1. Check & Drip Pipes
Check your pipe insulated. Properly insulated pipes are less likely to freeze, preventing bursting. Additionally, be sure to drip your faucets on nights that have very low temperatures. Just a simple drip helps keep water moving, which prevents freezing. This means outdoor faucets as well as indoor ones.
2. Clean Your Gutters
Be sure to inspect and clean your gutters this Fall. This is particularly important if you have lots of trees that are shedding leaves near your home. Check your downspouts as well as they can become blocked. Having clear gutters is essential for channeling water and snowmelt away from your home effectively. During the winter, keep drainage areas cleared of snow to prevent them from becoming blocked.
3. Test Your Sump Pump
If your basement uses a sump pump, you definitely want to make sure that it is working effectively before winter hits. Be sure to test it out with a bucket of water. If it doesn’t turn on, you will want to have it serviced and repaired before winter starts.
4. Assess the Ground Near Your Home
Optimally, water should drain away from your home. Take a walk around your house and note if any of the ground is sloping downward towards your house. If this is the case, consider adding some dirt and soil to reverse this trend and channel it away.
5. Shovel Efficiently
This is a particularly important thing to consider if you live on a hill or some other form of unlevel ground. Be sure to shovel snow so that it doesn’t flow towards your home as it thaws. Instead, shovel it to a place where it will flow downhill away from your home.
What Do I Do If My Basement Floods?
While taking precautions will help prevent your basement from flooding, there may be situations where you do encounter a flood. If this is the case, do the following:
1. Turn off Plumbing if Necessary
It may be difficult to determine the cause of flooding, but if it appears to be plumbing, turn it off quickly if possible. Your home should have a master shutoff valve. Locate it before a problem occurs and be familiar with how to shut it off if ever needed.
2. Stay Out of Water
If your basement experiences a major flood of an inch or more, you don’t want to get into the water. There are a number of safety issues that could occur. For example, flooding can contain things like bacteria or other toxins. It can also be a hazard for electrocution. If you do go into a flooded area, be sure to turn off your main breaker first.
3. Contact a Professional
Basement floods typically involve complex cleaning and restoration. Not only is it tedious work, but it is also work that requires significant safety precautions. You want professionals to assist you in order to reduce the chance of further damage to your home and ensure your continued safety from things like mold once the job is done. You can contact Alpine Cleaning and Restoration any time. We will respond quickly as time is of the essence with flooding.