Foundation Damage: Piling snow, melting and snow removal.

Off the forums this seems to be much more of a common question than on the forums. But because this was brought up I thought it best to deal with topic directly. It’s a smart question that brings many points together.

Snow Removal:
As we all know the basic concept is to put the snow somewhere on the property, or off the property, where it won’t impede traffic or access to key areas of our land. Driveways are plowed or shoveled as well as walkways or “make-shift” paths for people to travel safely on foot.

Snow falls everywhere. Regardless of how good your gutters are you more than likely will end up with snow neatly gathered at or near your foundation. The only thing that will keep this from happening would be a generous overhang, extended roofs or tree coverage that blocks the snow from hitting the ground.

It’s generally a good idea not to pile snow close to your home (unless of course you have one of those nifty Swedish 2nd floor doors to ski out of).

Snow close to the foundation:
Every year the snow piles up and every year the snow melts. With the land being frozen and soil unable to absorb water very quickly during the thaw, this is typically the time when most people’s basements flood.

To protect against the snow becoming an additional obstacle at the start of spring it’s a good idea not to add more snow close to the foundation.

To what extent?
I’m not saying that you have to add the foundation of your home to your shoveling list. I am however suggesting that you keep an eye on it.

If snow is starting to pile higher than the sill plate (where your home meets the foundation) then remove some of the top layer and pile it elsewhere.

If the snow is covering window wells or filling window wells, you can keep those from flooding or becoming potential problems by bailing them out while it’s snow and not water. Shovel snow away from the window well so it doesn’t become the low point for the snow to melt into.

Problems with space:
Where do I put it? If the problem of your snow ending up next to your foundation is a problem it’s probably due to a lack of options on your property. Some condo associations hire companies, as do many homeowners, to plow their driveways and sidewalks. If this is happening to you in this situation simply call the company handling your property and ask them to put or remove the snow to another location away from the foundation.

Can snow actually hurt my foundation?
The answer is no. Snow itself will not hurt your foundation. It’s the water saturation that comes from the snow that can cause problems with your foundation over long periods of time.