Freezing Water Can Damage Basements and Foundations
The main reason that water expands when it freezes is due to the change in its molecular structure. When water molecules are in their liquid form, they are free to move and flow around each other. However, when water freezes, these molecules become arranged in a more structured and rigid pattern, causing an increase in volume.
This phenomenon is known as thermal expansion, and it occurs in many other materials when they change from a liquid to a solid state. In the case of water, the expansion caused by freezing can be significant, with a single gallon of water increasing in volume by approximately 9% when it freezes.
The expansion of water when it freezes can have serious consequences for the foundation of buildings and other structures. For example, if water seeps into small cracks or crevices in the foundation and then freezes, the pressure from the expansion of the water can cause the cracks to widen and deepen.
Additionally, the expansion of frozen water can create new cracks and fissures in the foundation, leading to further damage and instability. This is especially true in areas with harsh winter climates, where the repeated freeze-thaw cycles can cause significant damage over time. Many wet basements starting leaking due to this freeze / thaw cycle.
To prevent foundation damage caused by freezing water, it is important to take steps to keep water away from the foundation and to seal any cracks or gaps in the foundation. This can include installing proper drainage systems and making sure that downspouts and gutters are directing water away from the foundation.
Additionally, it is important to maintain the proper grading around the foundation to prevent water from pooling near the base. If water is allowed to collect near the foundation, it can seep into cracks and then freeze, causing significant damage over time.
In areas where the risk of foundation damage from freezing water is particularly high, it may be necessary to take additional steps to protect the foundation. For example, insulating the foundation and installing a waterproof membrane can help to prevent water from seeping into the foundation and causing damage. Additionally, in some cases, supplemental reinforcement may be needed to buttress walls that are in bad drainage areas or flood planes.
In some cases, it may also be necessary to remove any existing water from the foundation before it has a chance to freeze. This can be done using a sump pump or other similar device, which will pump the water away from the foundation and prevent it from causing damage. Basement waterproofing systems can also be helpful.
In conclusion, the expansion of water when it freezes can cause significant damage to the foundation of buildings and other structures. To prevent this damage, it is important to take steps to keep water away from the foundation, maintain proper grading, and take other measures to protect the foundation as needed. With proper care and attention, it is possible to prevent the expansion of frozen water from causing significant damage to the foundation of your home or other building.