For those not aware, Thursday, December 21, 2022, marks the official start of the Winter season in the Northern Hemisphere, which means cooler temperatures will soon be upon us here in the Lonestar state. For those who own homes, this is the time of year when you want to inspect your home as thoroughly and as frequently as time allows. Available data shows much of Texas has an average low temperature of 36 degrees Fahrenheit and an average high temperature of 59 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter. Compared to other states in the U.S., Texas doesn’t get that cold in the winter, but it gets cold enough to cause foundation damage, according to CenTex Foundation Repair, a leading foundation repair and house leveling services company in Central Texas,
How To Tell if Winter Has Damaged Your Foundation
When they do finally spot foundation damage, most homeowners are in disbelief. Most find it difficult to wrap their minds around how mildly cool temperatures could cause foundation damage that significantly affects their home. But the damage was not done by cooler temperatures alone but rather by a mix of cooler temperatures coupled with snowfall, freezing rain, and, in some cases, ice, all of which are common in many parts of Texas during winter. When cooler temperatures and varying forms of moisture permeate the soil that surrounds a home, it causes that soil to expand. The expansion of that soil causes the home’s foundation to settle, which often causes structural damage. Sometimes, signs of weather-related foundation and structural damage are subtle. Other times, they are unmistakable. Some of these signs include
When temperatures drop below freezing, Texas experiences its fair share of frost. This frost freezes the top layer of soil surrounding a home. When outside temperatures warm up, the frozen soil thaws, and the moisture from the snowfall, ice, and rain that caused it to freeze sinks deeper into the Earth. During Texas winters, this freeze-thaw cycle happens repeatedly. The more this happens, the more the soil surrounding a home expands. The pressure generated by these expansions is enough to crack the concrete slab foundation that supports a home, not to mention its walls, floors, and ceilings. In addition to frost, cracks in a home’s foundation and interior and exterior can also stem from thermal expansion and concrete contraction, both of which by poor weather conditions.
When a home’s foundation is severely damaged, elevation problems are usually not too far behind. Foundational elevation problems can prevent snowmelt and rainwater from draining away from front doors, garages, and other access points. If foundational elevation problems are not corrected, snowmelt and rainwater will ultimately make their way into a home and cause considerable water damage. Since we are on the topic, it is worth noting that such foundational elevation issues seldom occur when a home is on a pier and beam foundation. Unlike homes that sit on a concrete slab foundation, homes sitting on a pier and beam foundation are higher off the ground, which allows water to drain away a lot easier.
Like cracks, the constant freeze-thaw cycles commonly associated with winter in Texas make it more likely for foundational shifts to occur. Common signs of a shifting foundation include the following:
- A Lopsided or cracked chimney
- Cracked walls or ceilings
- Sticking windows or doors
- Uneven or slanted floors
While most Texas winters are damp, some are dry. During these temporary dry spells, the soil a home sits on starts to crack, shrink, and pull away from the foundation due to repeated freeze-thaw cycles. And this causes cracks and voids to form under the foundation, making it difficult for the foundation to support the weight of the home. When damp conditions return, moisture makes its way into that now less-stable soil. And when it does, the foundation loses its ability to support the home, and eventually, the foundation starts to shift.
In summary, several things can suggest your home’s foundation has been harmed by winter, from cracked walls and ceilings to drainage problems and shifts in the foundation. That said, if you notice any of these issues on your property this winter, it is best to have them inspected by a licensed and trusted foundation repair services company as soon as possible.