How Does Cold Weather Affect Your Foundation?

Thursday, December 27th, 2018 by Kelsey Bullerdick


Winter is officially here! Beautiful decorations, holiday parties, and warm fireplaces are what makes the winter season so magical. However, it can also bring foundation damage to your home. And the last thing you want to have to think about is your home's foundation not being safe during the holiday season. 

As the weather becomes colder, the air also becomes drier. The dry air will cause the water and moisture in the soil surrounding your home to disappear. When the soil dries, it shrinks. As the soil around your home shrinks in size, it creates an empty space for your home to settle into. 

Drying & Sinking Soil

Your home can experience damage in many different ways - some more obvious than others. When you know what to look for, the warning signs of foundation damage are unmistakable and taking action before the damage increases is key.

 

Cracked Concrete Floors:

Home's with a slab foundation will show signs in your home's floors and interior walls.  When the floor slab settles, it can cause cracks in the concrete, floors can separate from the walls as they sink downwards. The interior wall could be pulled down with the floor, instead separating from the ceiling. Walls can also pull away from other walls, and interior wall cracks can form. As the settlement grows, those cracks will also begin to grow and could become dangerous for your family. 

How Does Cold Weather Affect Your Foundation? - Image 2

 

Foundation Cracks:

Stair-step cracking in brick or block walls is one of the surest signs of foundation settlement. As your home continues to settle further, vertical cracks may widen or become uneven as wall sections tilt away from each other. This indicates that the wall is rotating. If you notice this problem, it's best not to fill the cracks with anything until you determine if the foundation needs to be stabilized. Filling cracks could prevent a contractor from being able to lift the foundation back into place.

How Does Cold Weather Affect Your Foundation? - Image 2

 

Cracks In Walls or Above Windows and Door Frames:

Drywall and plaster cracks are relatively easy to patch, but what causes them in the first place? You will usually see the cracks re-open after they've been repaired.

Drywall cracks that occur around the corners of windows or doors - on any floor of your home - are often due to foundation movement. Another thing to watch for when it comes to drywall: nail pops. Nail pops occur when the drywall shows damage where nails or screws were placed. If the drywall shifts, the drywall mud that covers the screw will sometimes pop off. If you set a level on the window frame and it is un-level, this can also be a sign of settlement.

If a crack has been repaired before and has opened again, it's highly likely a sign from foundation shifting or settling. 

Crack Above Door Frame 

 

Sticking Doors and Windows:

The weakest part of a wall is where there's an opening, such as a door or window. Because of this, these areas often display the first signs of a problem. One way to determine if your sticking doors or windows were caused by a foundation settlement is to place a four-foot level on the top of the window or door frame. If it's not level, it's a good idea to have the foundation inspected by a professional. If it's level, you may have a different problem with the window or door itself.

When it comes to doors, if you're not the original homeowner, run your hand across the top of the door to see if it has been shaved down before. The wood will feel rougher if it's been shaved. If it was shaved to fit once before and is now rubbing again, it's likely that your home foundation is shifting or settling. 

How Does Cold Weather Affect Your Foundation? - Image 4

 

Dry air is not the only problem that the winter season brings for your home, but frost and snow bring problems as well. As mentioned above, dry air shrinks the soil around your home causing cracks and open spaces, the melting snow and frost will be able to enter through these cracks straight to your foundation and home. 

This time of year brings so much happiness and joy but one thing you do not want to stress about is the structural integrity of your home as your family is gathering in your home for the holidays. Call Healthy Spaces today at 812-602-4025 or click here to fill out a form to schedule a free inspection. 

 

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