How Snowmelt Causes Flooding

If you’re a homeowner or business owner with a basement on your property, you know how important it is to prevent water damage from flooding. Nothing can be more devastating than inches or feet of water covering your floor and threatening the structural integrity of your home or property, and water removal isn’t something you can take care of yourself.

To avoid the risks and costs associated with water damage, many property owners take precautions and choose locations to minimize the probability of flooding before it becomes a problem. Unfortunately, even standard preventive methods can’t always protect against basement flooding from snowmelt, especially during our coldest and snowiest winters.

So how does snow melt cause flooding and what should you do to avoid related damage to your property? Here’s everything you need to know about flooding from snow melt.

How Snow Melt Causes Flooding - Micrographic

What Is Snowmelt?

Snowmelt is runoff water that occurs as a result of melting fallen snow. When there are significant amounts of packed snow and ice on the ground around your home or nearby, warmer temperatures cause the frozen substances to melt and move, leading to flooding in neighborhoods, streets, fields and bodies of water.

Snow and ice buildup in yards, on rooftops, in ice dams and elsewhere around houses can lead to quick movement of running water when temperatures thaw. While buildings near rivers or creeks can be at particular risk for flood damage, any home or business faces potential flooding from increased water buildup and runoff.

How to Prevent Basement Flooding From Snowmelt

Snowmelt flooding can be dangerous anywhere, from roads to rivers to residential areas, but the most common resulting damage to homes and businesses typically occurs in the buildings’ basements. While you can’t stop snowmelt from happening, you can try to keep it away from the foundation of your property. Here’s how:

  • Clear an area of 5 feet or more around your building’s foundation: Keeping this radius in mind when you are shoveling or snow-blowing. Keeping the snow from stacking up where it can seep in gives you a better chance of avoiding basement flooding.
  • Test your sump pump regularly: Ensure it’s working properly to prevent liquid buildup in your basement.
  • Keep an eye out for cracks in the walls and corners of your foundation: Inspect your foundation regularly and be sure to fix any cracks. Even though water can still seep through porous concrete, sealing sizeable cracks and fissures will make your foundation less susceptible to letting in water.
  • Clear snow off the roof, ice dams and overhangs: These areas collect heavy amounts of snow and ice that melt and run off right above your foundation, so stop the threat before it liquefies.
  • Make sure downspouts drain 20-30 feet away from your building: This will help prevent water from seeping in below.

Types of Damage to Look For

If you’re already experiencing moisture levels from snowmelt, don’t ignore the issues or push off restoration when the damage could lead to further problems. Make sure to look out for these common kinds of dangerous damage in your building:

  • Structural damage: Walls left wet can weaken, crack, crumble and collapse. Look for large cracks and moisture damage around the base of the walls to catch structural damage before it becomes dangerous.
  • Mold growth: Water damage can lead to black mold growth and hazardous toxins, especially in a humid area. Try to catch mold spots within 48 hours of flooding and contact a restoration professional.

Dealing With Flooding Due to Snowmelt

When snowmelt flooding occurs in your basement, be sure to follow these tips:

  • Don’t ever ignore even a minimal amount of water.
  • To protect your health, address any mold issues.
  • Contact a professional to clean and dry the area as soon as possible.

Safety Tips

Flooding from snowmelt can be damaging and dangerous, so when you can’t prevent it, make sure you stay safe. If your business or home is victim to flooding, turn off the electricity if you can do so without entering the area, be aware of the release of any flammable substances and always call a professional restoration service to help you remediate the damage.

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