Basement flooding from melting snow?

Posted by Matt Buchanan

While most homeowners are aware of the dangers of water seeping into their basement and go to great lengths to prevent it, it’s difficult to stop the water resulting from melting snow. As we started to take a look at the past few winters and the work performed, we noticed how many were customers calling in with water in their basement and no idea how it got there. In most cases, it was snow melt leaking through the foundation.

If it’s the case you have a wet basement and no visible sign of a pipe leak or home appliance malfunction, and your area has sustained heavy snowstorms recently, you could be looking at flooded basement due to snow melt.  If that is the case, it should be treated like any other flooding basement from the perspective of a water restoration company.


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How do I prevent the snow melt from entering my basement?


The same way you keep rain water out of your basement…keep it away from your foundation! 1 cubic foot of snow produces around 3/4 gallon of water. If you have a couple of feet of snow piling up against your foundation, you’ve got a ticking time bomb that will result in a flooded basement if not dealt with. So how do you make sure the melting snow doesn’t end up in your basement?


1. Clear a 5 foot area around your foundation

boston-blizzardSo you just spent 30 minutes clearing your front entryway, walkway and driveway…congrats! Unfortunately, your job isn’t done! While those areas allow you to get in and out of your home more easily, the dangerous snow (in terms of basement flooding) is everything stacked up next to your home. So grab your shovel or fire up your snow thrower again and start clearing the area around your home of all snow.

(image courtesy of


2. Test your sump pump to make sure it’s working

basement-sump-pumpDo you have a sump pump? If not, it’s time to get one, especially if your basement is finished. Insurance policies don’t cover water damage caused by outside water sources, so if your basement floods from snowmelt, you’ll be paying out of pocket for the cost to repair the damage.

If you do have a sump pump, it’s important to make sure it’s working! Too many times sump pumps sit idle for months on end and when it’s finally time for them to do their jobs, they don’t work. Click here to review a good step-by-step guide to testing your sump pump to ensure it works when you need it most.


3. Fix any cracks in your foundation walls

cracked-basement-wall-leaksDo you have sizable cracks in your basement walls? If so, those are the perfect pathways for water to enter. You can always buy an epoxy or sealing kit from a local hardware store for a few dollars to seal up these cracks. But bear in mind, even if you have no cracks in your foundation, concrete is porous! That means if enough water rests outside the walls, the water will eventually seep through the concrete and into your basement.


What if it’s too late & you already have water in your basement?


Like any other moisture issue, it’s always in your best interest to call a basement flood cleanup company. Why? Because moisture issues that aren’t properly contained and mitigated can lead to the following problems:


Structural damage

structural-damage-wet-basement-wallWhat usually happens when people ignore a small amount of water in their basement, or choose to just mop it up and leave it be, is the walls remain wet. This is dangerous for a number of reason, most notably, because a wet wall can weaken overtime and collapse. The wall can literally crumble to pieces. That’s obviously not a good thing, especially since it is the foundational support system for the entire house. If moisture got into your basement and it came through your foundation walls, you simply can not ignore the excess moisture in the walls. It must be removed or you run the risk of having some serious foundational issues in the future.


Black mold growth

black-mold-wet-basementAny type of basement water damage can (and will) result in toxic mold if not dealt with immediately. How long is ‘immediately’? Well, when it comes to mold growth after a moisture problem, you usually have about 48 hours, give or take a couple of days depending on the temperature and relative humidity in the room. That doesn’t leave you much time to address the moisture problem. And the reality is there’s simply too much that can wrong during the drying process if not done by professionals. That’s why you should never take chances and always call a certified basement flood mitigation contractor like us!


Basement water extraction


water-extraction-removalFirst, we would get the water out using a variety of different basement water extraction systems.  Within a couple of hours, we can have the majority of the water out of your basement.

But despite great equipment and the proper techniques, it takes more work to get out the remaining moisture, whether they’ve found their way into your foundation walls, floors, or carpets.

Hopefully we can get the water out before any structural damage occurs!


Drying out the basement


To get out the remaining moisture, it must be evaporated using powerful drying equipment and dehumidifiers.  The drying equipment or air movers (what you would probably call a fan) that pass hot, dry air throughout the affected area.  We take moisture content readings throughout the basement to know what is wet and then place our equipment in a way that maximizes their drying ability.

Typical dry times are just under 4 days, but so much of it depends upon the type of materials that have gotten wet and the amount of area that needs to be dried.  Our technicians return each day to take readings of the environment as well as the moisture levels of the areas we’re working to dry out.  We can then adjust our drying plans according to the effectiveness of the equipment.


What if the water came through my foundation?


In most cases, a basement will flood due to something malfunctioning inside the basement.  But when it comes to snow melt, the reality is that if enough water pools in the moisture around your basement, it’s going to find a way into your home.  Even concrete walls are porous and you would be shocked at how much water can pass through them given the opportunity.

If that’s what has happened to you, your best option is to call a basement waterproofing company.  These companies specialize in creating waterproof systems that can be applied either inside or outside the basement walls and they can effectively stop the moisture from entering the basement.

About Matt Buchanan

I grew up in Irving, TX and left for Nashville, TN for college. After college I lived in Washington, DC and then in Cairo, Egypt. After coming back to the states, I spent a couple of years back in Dallas before moving with my wife to Denver!
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