How to Protect Your Foundation from Ice Patches This Winter

Ice patches in your yard present the biggest risk of winter. Other than damaging grass, it can damage the foundation, cause slips, and invite pests.

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If ice patches sit on your yard for days or weeks after a snowfall, you may have an issue with your yard grading. Poor yard grading is more than a nuisance. It can destroy your lawn, invite pests, and critters and even jeopardize your home’s foundation. Together with pooling snow and drainage issues, improper grading can instigate cracks and leakages that can send water right into your basement. You can avoid foundation problems by re-grading your yard. 

snow covered lawn

What causes ice patches in your yard? 

Poor grading and a sunken yard are often responsible for trapping snow and water around your home. This causes low spots and water pooling next to or beneath your home’s foundation. If not rectified, these patches can leave the grass in your yard looking sick and compromise your home’s structural integrity. 

How do ice patches in your yard affect your foundation? 

When ice patches form in your yard, the ground swells and contracts, and this causes the foundation to settle and basement walls to crack. Usually, soil expands when wet and contracts as it dries up. 

This freeze and thaw cycle exerts pressure on your foundation and creates voids in the ground which the foundation sinks into

If your foundation already has existing problems or isn’t well built, the movement and cracks can cause leaks and burst pipes. This often leads to a leaky or damp basement, creating the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth, pest infestation, and structural instability. 

Warning signs of foundation issues 

A shifting foundation is a recipe for disaster. The first warning signs of foundation issues include: 

  • Cracks on the walls 
  • Uneven or sagging floors 
  • Sticking doors and windows 

If you catch this problem early enough, you can correct it before serious damage occurs. Otherwise, you could be in for some expensive, time-consuming repairs. 

Protecting your foundation from ice patches in your yard 

While you may not have control over when or how much snow falls in Cincinnati, OH, there are a few things you can do to lessen its impact on your property. Water management is key to your foundation’s health, and you can achieve it in these three simple steps: 

1. Re-grade your yard 

Start by taking a close look at the grading around your house. Are there patches in your yard you can re-grade to direct water away? Good yard grading calls for at least a six-inch drop in elevation within the first 10 feet of your foundation, driveway, and walkways. In landscaping, it’s called a positive slope or positive grade. This slope prevents water from standing close to your home. 

2. Filling low spots 

Once you’ve properly graded your yard, make sure you fill any low spots with soil. Spread it evenly over the depression to prevent ice patches in the future. This process evens out any shallow depressions in your yard. 

3. Installing drainage channels 

Finally, consider installing yard drainage to help move water away from your foundation to a better location. This may include exterior French drains or buried downspout conductor lines, among other options. 

4. Remove snow from branches 

Clear any snow that collects on low-hanging branches by hand. Don’t shake the branches or tree limbs as this can cause them to snap and break. If there are any broken limbs, remove them so they won’t harbor pests. 

We also encourage you to remove snow using a snowblower instead of a shovel. Encourage your family members to follow the pavement instead of walking across the lawn. This way, the snow stays light and melts faster. You can also de-ice the lawn, but first, cover plants and grass next to the sidewalks with burlaps to protect them from the salts. 

Ice patches in your yard can cause foundation cracks and settlement, which can weaken your foundation and compromise your home’s safety. If you suspect that the ice patches in your yard may be damaging your home’s foundation, now might be a good time to contact the experts at Ohio Basement Authority for a free foundation inspection and repair quote. Our technicians will assess your foundation for cracks and then recommend a lasting fix.

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