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The High and Dry Blog

Toronto’s structural clarity in a sea of confusion.

Is Heavy Snow A Potential Foundation Danger?

heavy snow shoveling off roof

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn

Hal Borland

Winter Preparation

As we prepare for holiday parties and family gatherings towards the end of the year, we should also stay prepared for what winter brings. It’s best to feel safe all the way through your winter festivities. In areas with heavy snowfall, like the Greater Toronto Area, there is a significant risk of damage to your home each winter from heavy snow- even after winterizing.

What is Heavy Snow?

Heavy snow is whenever snowfall becomes intense in an area and the GTA already has a lot of snowfall, so heavy snow is a common occurrence. During this period of time, older snowfall may solidify and turn to ice underneath a fresh snowfall, making it difficult to plow, shovel, or remove from your foundation or roof.

Usually, we have heavy snow falling from late november to late march.

Why is it Dangerous?

The danger from heavy snowfall is multidimensional. On one hand, heavy snowfall poses a danger to anyone walking, driving, or attempting to navigate it as it tends to obstruct your view or have a solid layer of ice below it. This creates danger on a personal level in your day to day life.

Heavy snow also causes immediate danger to your home and structure. This can take the form of icicles in your gutter that may fall, your water pipes freezing and threatening to burst, and heavy snow sitting on your roof for prolonged periods of time.

Finally, heavy snow also poses a long-term danger to your structure. All the immediate effects listed above can create damage to the structure as a whole, whether it’s sagging roofs, cracks in your foundation, or leaks through your windows and foundation walls.

Signs of Danger from Heavy Snow

While winter blankets this city, we need to make sure we are aware of the signs that our structure could be in danger of serious foundational damage or even collapse. There are key indicators that your structure could be in danger. Make sure to call an experienced foundational repair company if you recognize any of these signs.

Cracks or Leaks: A crack or leak in the walls or floor of your basement spells trouble for the home itself. Heavy snow puts weight on the sides of your foundation, which may result in some cracking due to increased soil pressure. In addition, the cold/warm differential between your home and the soil can cause cracking if the basement is not properly insulated. Finally, the additional moisture in the soil due to snowfall/snowmelt can cause leaking and cracking that, without proper basement waterproofing, can spell danger, but cracks or leaks can be fixed by a seasoned professional, anytime of the year.

Overflow in Your Window Wells: Every home in the GTA is now required to have window wells that fit certain parameters as an emergency exit for the home. With the ability to open and utilize these windows comes the danger that your wells may become blocked or are not deep enough for the snow to pile up. This may be dangerous to your home and could flood your basement and cause internal water damage and deepening your window wells can be fixed by a seasoned professional.

Sagging Roof: If the weight of the snow on your home makes your roof sag, your roof needs repairs! It snows fairly often in our area so having a sagging roof can be a source of anxiety for you and your family during the holiday season. Make sure to keep an eye on this part of your structure and your roof can be fixed by a seasoned contractor even during the winter months.

Sputtering Faucets: A good sign that heavy snow has threatened your home is when your pipes start sputtering. This is an obvious indicator that they have gotten too cold and are starting to freeze. This could be an indicator of many things, but if the interior of your house is within city parameters and you’ve run your water to make sure it isn’t freezing, it is concerning.

If your faucets indicate you have damage to your structure, contact a home inspector to find the root of the problem.

What Can I Do With Heavy Snow During The Winter?

If you notice any of these signs during the winter and are concerned, there is good news because you can absolutely complete foundation repairs during the winter! Not a lot of people know this, but contractors and well equipped, well experienced foundation repair experts are prepared to work on waterproofing and structural repairs all season long.

Fixing these danger signs in the winter additionally protects you better for when all that frozen moisture melts and runs up against your foundation. When the snow melts and turns to puddles, little leaks are more likely to turn into a flood. Fixing danger signs during the winter can protect you from a much larger headache later on.

The soil in the GTA generally does not freeze below 12” so we are equipped and able to operate and repair foundation cracks or leaks, as well as shore up any issues with your window wells. Want to learn more about the classifications of snow in the GTA? Click here.

For more information contact GJ MacRae Foundation Repair anytime of the year.