A flooded basement is a common catastrophe. Whether your basement accumulates a couple of inches or a couple of feet of rising water, a flood is problematic for several reasons.

For instance, the basement will be unusable until the water is removed and flooded areas are cleaned; furniture, clothing and anything else stored in the basement could be ruined and would need to be replaced; and lingering odors and the growth of mold could harm your family’s health.

While you might not consider winter to be a likely time for your basement to flood, several things could cause a basement to flood this season.

To prevent this type of disaster, pay attention to these likely causes of rising water in your basement.

Water-damaged foundation with bricks showing
Water is your foundation’s biggest enemy. (DepositPhotos)

1. Foundation Damage

A foundation that is cracked, chipped or buckling could let rainwater or melting snow enter your home’s structure.

Typically, a water leak will lead directly to the basement because of gravity.

Inspect your foundation or hire a professional to do so, to ensure it is holding up securely.

House surrounded by ice in the winter
Ice eventually melts, and that can cause damage. (DepositPhotos)

2. Ice

Layers of ice banking against your home’s foundation may damage the concrete structure due to increased pressure or weight.

Melting ice can find its way into crevices and cracks that may be hard to detect until you go down to the basement one day and find the floor covered in water.

Build a small ditch around your home’s perimeter so that moisture flows away from the house rather than into the basement.

House surrounded by heavy snow
A basement surrounded by snow could receive some damage if the home isn’t maintained. (DepositPhotos)

3. Heavy Snow

A heavy snowstorm can have a similar effect as accumulating ice. Whether solid or in a melting state, moist snow can trickle into undetected entry points to cause water retention in the basement.

If you live in an area where snow is often packed several feet high, make sure your home’s foundation is secure, and consider adding a drainage ditch if you don’t have one.

There are also many basement waterproofing products you can use to close up those entry points where melting water gets into your home.

Before inclement or freezing weather, do a quick but thorough search through your basement for any cracks or holes that need filling.

Flood-damaged house
Living in a flood zone can definitely affect your home’s basement. (DepositPhotos)

4. Flooding

Living in a floodplain may predispose your property to local floods during seasonal rainfall.

Even if you don’t live near water, several days or weeks of rain or sleet can oversaturate the ground and cause standing water, which can leak into your basement and cause flooding.

Monitor weather forecasts to find out if a flood watch or a flood warning has been issued.

Water heater
A broken water heater could leak and cause the basement to flood.

5. Equipment Failure

If your property uses well water, your sump pump could go bad and cause water backup in the basement.

A broken water tank or a washing machine that unexpectedly leaks while running could quickly soak your basement floor.

Pipes may freeze, which makes them brittle and prone to bursting; this can lead to a flooded basement, especially if the leak isn’t caught immediately.

Preventing a flood is easier than cleaning one up. To prevent water damage to your home this winter, take steps now to protect your basement from the dangers of the elements.

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Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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