As Edmontonians, we know how to prepare for fluctuating temperatures. We simultaneously hold the record for one of Canada’s sunniest cities, with more than 2,000 sunshine hours every year, and one of the coldest. Just as the impressive range in climates from day to day (or even hour to hour!) means you need to be ready for anything, the rapid fluctuations can also impact your home and require some preparation.

 When you start getting your winter tires on and your parkas ready, don’t forget to add protecting your home from the freeze thaw cycle to your winter checklist to avoid a wet basement this winter.

What is the Freeze thaw cycle?

The freeze thaw cycle occurs when moisture around your home freezes, expanding up to 10%. This expansion can cause cracks in your foundation as the soil exerts pressure against your foundation walls, and as moisture enters these cracks and re-freezes, the cracks will continue to widen. This process of soil freezing and thawing is also called frost heaving.

Another phenomenon known as adfreezing occurs when the frozen soil adheres to the foundation walls and places an upward pressure directly on the wall.

The freeze thaw cycle can be especially dangerous for your foundation during months with cold or below-freezing temperatures overnight and above-zero temperatures during the daylight, like fall or winter in Edmonton.

How to prepare your basement for Freeze Thaw Cycles

The best way to prevent foundation damage from the freeze thaw cycle is avoiding excessive moisture buildup in and around your home. Winterize your home to avoid your basement leaking this winter.

  • Gutters and downspouts: Make sure they are cleared of debris and angled away from your home. Your gutter system should help prevent ice damming or pooling near your foundation.
  • Basement moisture: Don’t let moisture collect in your basement. Run a dehumidifier and promote airflow by regularly running a fan and leaving doors open.
  • Attic insulation: Ensure your attic is properly insulated to help avoid ice damming.
  • Look for signs of damage: Regularly inspect your basement for signs of moisture damage or cracks, and address them quickly. Keep an eye out for water on the basement floor, mold, window well leaks, or water stains or spots on walls. You can also identify damage to your foundation if doors or windows don’t close properly or you can see cracks around doors and entryways.
Large icicles hanging off of a yellow homes snowy roof

Protect your home from Freeze Thaw cycles

If you notice signs of damage like cracks or shifting in your foundation, address them quickly. Cracks in your foundation will only get worse as the moisture seeps into the cracks and expands further, widening the crack with every freeze thaw cycle.

We recommend calling a professional like K Kuypers Construction to help you address any foundation concerns in your home. Fixing leaks or cracks yourself can worsen the problem, leading to basement seepage after snow melt.

K Kuypers Construction has been a trusted expert in Edmonton foundations since 1954, offering quality you can rely on backed by a 25-year warranty. In addition, when we waterproof your basement walls, we also add insulation drainage boards with an R-value of 8.08. Contact us for a free no-obligation quote and keep your basement dry this winter.