Dry Basement’s foundation repair professionals see a wide range of weather and moisture conditions over the winter throughout our three-state service area. But no matter how cold or snowy your winter was (or wasn’t), winter weather can still cause foundations can crack, shift and move. That’s why, as spring approaches, it’s a good idea to inspect your basement and foundation for signs of damage.

“It’s important to inspect your foundation regularly, so you can catch problems in the early stages – before they become expensive repairs,” according to the home inspection experts at National Property Inspections, Inc. (NPI). They suggest watching for three main types of damage.

Bulges and outward bumps: Changes in temperature can lead to abnormal soil settlement and potentially building collapse.

Cracking: Vibrations from traffic and nearby elements, as well as soil settling, lead to foundation cracks. “Normally, cracking is repairable and not seriously threatening to the structure and safety of the building,” says NPI. “However, be sure to monitor cracks and call in a professional if you notice any warning signs.”

Leaking: Water gets into the house through cracks in the foundation.

Be sure to examine the foundation for masonry cracks, says Curtis S. Niles Sr., president of the National Association of Home Inspectors. When checking your basement, inspect the base of your concrete walls first.

“Cracks start from the bottom up, not the top down,” Niles points out. “If there’s water penetration, it’ll show at the bottom of those cracks.”

While you’re looking, be sure to use a flashlight to examine exposed framing. “If you see even a quarter-inch or so of tunneling on the wood,” says Niles, “call a pest control company immediately.”

Winter changes can also affect your yard and how it drains. “Look for low areas in the yard near the foundation that might pool water during a heavy rain,” suggests State Farm Insurance. “Level these yard depressions by filling them with compacted soil. Tend to any other ‘ponding’ areas around the yard, too, because after a hard rain, standing water can develop.”

Soil should slope downward 2 to 3 inches for every 10 feet away from the house, according to the experts at Cheapism.com. “If the grade is insufficient, water can pool around the foundation, which can lead to major – and expensive – structural issues.”

For minor issues, you can replenish topsoil by hand. Dry Basement’s experts can inspect your yard and foundation, and assist you with drainage issues.

Once you’re finished with the foundation, be sure to check the attic and roof, too, State Farm says. Clean the gutters and make sure downspouts are free of debris. Look in the attic for discoloration, deterioration or dirt stains — all signs of leakage that can work its way into your foundation and cause more problems if it’s not addressed.

Finally, check the driveway and sidewalks around your home, says Cheapism. “Like potholes in the street, tiny driveway cracks can turn into big ones during winter. If you inspect the driveway every spring and fill or re-coat it to repair minor cracks, it should hold up for decades.”

If you find cracks, leaks or bumps during your spring home inspection and you’re not sure how serious they are, call Dry Basement at 816-741-8500 or contact us online. Our experts can take a look at your home and yard, determine if there’s a problem that needs to be corrected, and give you an estimate on what will be needed to take care of the issue.

“Do keep in mind, however, that some amount of settlement is normal in any house,” says NPI. “Some cracks in foundation walls are minor and do not require you to take action right away, only to monitor them. If you have an old house with evidence of minor settling, it’s probably nothing to worry about.”