What are possible reasons that a basement would flood after snow melts?
January 30, 2014 11:47 PM   Subscribe

What are the potential reasons you'd get water seeping into a basement after melting snow, but not after hard rains? Assume floors and carpets are drenched and soggy after a big snow melts, with water evident beneath linoleum, but there is not actual standing water. Would this be proof of a foundation crack? Also assume soil/earth outside the home is of a somewhat nonabsorbent quality, so that there are standing pools in the yard after each rain. Does this affect the diagnosis?
posted by third rail to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Perhaps the snow accumulates above a crack, maybe at the top of your foundation and while it melts it seeps in there, until the snow level falls below the crack. Also it could be that your foundation drains well ordinarily but that the frozen ground causes water to back up or linger around openings. Also you could have a frozen sump pump in the basement or frozen or blocked drains there too and melting snow would be backing up.

Those are a few suggestions.
posted by salishsea at 12:30 AM on January 31, 2014

This is happening all over ME. The water can't go anywhere.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:26 AM on January 31, 2014

Water from melting snow has to flow on the surface or migrate downward. The two factors affecting the migration are the absorbency of the soil and the level of the water table. Even with a nice sandy soil that provides excellent drainage, when the water table is high the water cannot go anywhere.

The other factor in basements is seepage of water through the concrete blocks that make up the walls. This can be remedied (in dry conditions) by contractors.
posted by yclipse at 4:42 AM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Water from melting snow pools in one location, until enough snow has melted for it to run off. Pooling water has time to work its way into small cracks, which rain water would just run over.
posted by Flood at 5:53 AM on January 31, 2014

Check your downspout extensions and clear the snow away from them. Shovel short canals leading away from them. Thawing water from the gutters probably isn't being carried the requisite 3-4 feet away from your house.
posted by klarck at 6:11 AM on January 31, 2014

Perhaps the cold makes the material in your walls contract and makes cracks expand allowing water to seep more.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:17 AM on January 31, 2014

A quick, heavy downpour has time to run off with sufficient drainage. Melting snow slowly seeps down and has more potential to seep through basement walls. If you see where the moisture is you can better diagnose the cause. Pools and wet spots would indicate localized cracks and areas outside that the drainage needs attention. General moisture along the walls could be attributed to the extra moist earth on opposite side and warmth from indoors causing condensation, or just simply seeping through the porous material of the wall itself (concrete, brick, etc) If all you have is a little surface seepage an update on wall sealant might be in order.
posted by imaluma at 7:25 AM on January 31, 2014

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