The Spring Thaw and Basement Renovations: Turn Disaster into Opportunity
May 10, 2019
If you were to gather a group of homeowners who currently have a leaky basement or have experienced basement leaks in the past, you might notice that a large portion of them had their leaks occur during or after the spring thaw. With all the snow melting, spring rainfalls, and soft dirt, it is not uncommon that most foundations begin to leak around this time of year.
The first step in preventing basement leaks is awareness, and there is no better time than the present to become aware of how your foundation is holding up. While we are not directly able to check for leaks in your basement, we are able to make sure that it will be warm, comfortable, and cozy once your renovations or water damage repairs are complete.
A word of warning: Simply replacing damaged drywall is not enough, and will just lead to future repairs being needed. During your basement renovations, it is also a good idea to have a pre-drywall blower door test conducted by a building envelope consulting firm - such as our friends at Barrier Sciences Group - as it can catch any air leaks or problems with your home’s building envelope before they become hard to reach, or are covered up from drywall. This allows you to directly target the trouble areas and stay ahead of any future problems.
How the Spring Thaw Can Damage Your Foundation
As the weather warms up, the spring rains begin to fall, and all the snow has melted, the soil and dirt that surrounds the foundation of your home will become soft and saturated with water, causing a substantial amount of pressure on your home’s foundation as it shifts around. If there are any leaks in your basement or foundation that haven’t yet caused any troubles, they are likely to present themselves during the spring thaw.
The causes of these leaks could be from any number of different things, such as invasive tree roots, small cracks in the foundation, or even just due to the building’s age. As all the rainwater and melted snow builds up around a home’s foundation during the spring thaw, the added pressure can accelerate the severity of any leaks that already existed, or cause new leaks to form, making it crucial to stay ahead of any issues in your basement and to fix them before they become more severe.
Taking Advantage of a Leaky Basement and Your Repair Time
If you find yourself needing to make basement repairs right now or at some point in the future, it is worth taking advantage of your repair time to also improve the airtightness and insulation of your home. Once your basement leaks have been fixed, there are a number of different home improvements that you could easily make to improve your home’s comfort, utility cost, air quality and even its market value.
The reason that it is important to make the most out of your repair time, is that many home improvements can be more affordable to make than normal if you are already underway with a basement renovation or repair. That way, you are able to make many improvements (such as insulation upgrades and air sealing), while you already have your home under construction, and your walls and foundation are exposed - completely maximizing and making the most out of your repair time.
Basement Insulation and Airtightness Improves Comfort in the Entire Home
A leaky basement may seem like a curse at first - and it can be if it is left to be ignored - but it just might provide you with the exact incentive you need to help you make more than just repairs to your home. After all, investing in energy efficiency improvements is an excellent way of lowering your home’s operational costs; and by making airtightness and insulation improvements to your basement, you can notice the benefits throughout your home. The reason for this is due to something called the stack effect - which is also why attic insulation improvements are so effective at improving the interior comfort levels within an entire home.
The stack effect happens due to a difference in pressure and temperature within the home, compared to the home’s exterior. This happens most significantly in the winter, as the home’s hot air rises and escapes out any cracks or holes in the attic, it causes cold exterior air to be drawn in from leaks around the home’s foundation or basement. This not only creates cold drafts throughout the home - especially in the basement and on the floor above - but it also greatly reduces the energy performance of your home, and can make your furnace and air conditioner operate more frequently.
Choosing the Most Cost-Effective Basement Renovation is Easy
Whether you are making the most out of your troubles caused by the spring thaw, or you are simply looking to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of your entire home, by making improvements to the level of airtightness and insulation in your home’s basement, you can save money on your utility bills and see a noticeable difference in your home comfort levels.
Additionally, if you are looking to capitalize on any home reno rebates, you should consider having an energy audit (aka an energy assessment) done. This will not only help you qualify for up to $5,000 of rebates through the new Home Efficiency Rebate program, but it also provides you with a detailed roadmap of all the possible upgrades you could make in your home - ranked in terms of their cost effectiveness. All Ontario homeowners who live within either the Enbridge Gas or Union Gas service areas are able to apply for Home Efficiency Rebates.
With the information you gain from an energy audit, you are able to clearly see which upgrades would provide you with the biggest energy savings and comfort improvements per dollar of your investment. To schedule a time for a free in-home assessment of your home’s energy efficiency, or to chat with one of our Customer Care Representatives about your home improvement strategy and potential rebate options, feel free to contact us at 1-(800)-265-1914.