How Does Cold Weather Affect a Foundation?

While many are looking forward to spring, there are still a few weeks of winter left. Melting snow, freezing temps, and late blizzards are all triggers for seasonal foundation concerns. There are a few different ways that cold weather can affect your foundation. Learn how to spot the warning signs of a foundation affected by cold weather and how you can protect against them in the future.

Cycles of Freezing and Thawing

In some areas, snow and ice are consistent throughout the winter. However, in areas where the temperature fluctuates throughout the year, cycles of freezing and thawing are serious seasonal foundation concerns. During the thaw period, water seeps into the porous concrete foundation. As it freezes, it expands and causes your foundation walls to crack. Then, during the next thaw, water seeps into the cracks and repeats the process until the damage is compounded.

This can also happen if you receive a large amount of snow that melts slowly over time. The snow that builds up on your roof and around your house should be carried away from your foundation by gutters. However, if your gutters are still full of fall leaves or get blocked by ice, that snow melt has nowhere to go and will fall directly next to your foundation. This can cause cracks, sinking, and foundation settlement.

Cold Air Drying Out Soil

Another seasonal foundation concern is the cold winter air drying out the soil around your foundation. As the air gets colder and colder, all moisture is sucked out of the soil. As the soil dries, it shrinks and begins to form cracks. This is extremely dangerous for your foundation wall because it means that the soil is pulling away from your foundation, leaving it with minimal to no support. Shrinking soil could cause your foundation to shift which means less stability for your home.


Over time, as sleet and snowmelt, they wear away at the soil around your house and cause erosion. If there is a slope in your yard to direct water away from your foundation, that water can erode the slope over time so that it becomes less productive. Additionally, gutters that are misplaced or tend to overflow or get clogged can also cause erosion, as they are not properly moving water away from your home.

Seeing the Effects of Cold Weather Around Your Home

The effects of cold weather on your foundation can present themselves in a variety of ways around your home. Some of the most common are wall cracks, floor cracks, and ceiling cracks that are caused by foundation sinking and settlement. As your foundation shifts, the rest of your house moves to try to accommodate your foundation. Some of the most common foundation issues are triggered by foundation settlement, which can often be traced back to seasonal foundation concerns like cold winter temperatures and weather.

Another issue you might notice early on is excessive water in your basement due to leaks in your foundation walls. The cycle of freezing and thawing that was mentioned earlier can cause your walls to crack, which lets water seep into your home. Leaking can lead to serious issues, like a flooded basement or moisture that can lead to the growth of mold and mildew.

Protecting Your Foundation in the Winter

It may seem impossible to guard your home against the effects of Jack Frost, but there are things you can do to help your home and your foundation fight back against the cold. Watch the humidity in your home and don’t turn off the dehumidifier during the winter. Keeping the dehumidifier running, even during the cold months, can help your foundation as moisture starts to build up.

It’s also a good idea to take a look around your foundation on the outside and make a note of any minor cracks that you might see. Seal those off as soon as possible, and clear your gutters of any obstructions to make sure that they can keep up with snowmelt. You may also want to install a vapor barrier in your basement or crawl space to keep out excess moisture, cold air, and pests that are looking for a warm place to sleep in the winter. It might not seem like much against it, but every ounce of preventative protection can help your foundation make it through another winter.

Contact My Foundation Repairs today if you notice signs of cold affecting your foundation. We can assess any damage that your foundation may have suffered and help you decide on a course of action that best suits your family’s needs and budget.