Here in the Western PA area, the health of your foundation is impacted greatly by the freeze / thaw cycle. This is one reason that small basement cracks tend to become large ones.

During the process of the freeze/thaw cycle,  water makes its way into cracks and holes in the foundation. Then the cold weather sets in and freezes that water and expands creating cracks and enlarging existing ones.  Typically, water expands about 10% when it freezes. Research has shown that this water expansion will cause damage to concrete.

Then, just like in Pittsburgh fashion, it gets warmer, sometimes the same day! This of course will melt that ice, sometimes leaving that area larger and more porous than before. This allows more water to fill into the foundation. Now you have a leaking basement in addition to a cracked foundation. Then it gets cold again... just repeating the freeze/thaw cycle. That's why we say if you do nothing the problem will only get worse.

Repeated freezing and thawing and the related expansion, over time can do irreversible damage to your foundation.

The answer, of course, is to ensure those cracks don't increase throughout the cycle and then waterproofing is the suggested protocol.

We, Keystone Basement Systems offer FREE inspections of your basement to assess the weaknesses in your foundation and where a repair and waterproofing will most benefit your home. There are a number of supposed fixes, but Keystone has expertise at helping  which repair plan is most suitable in your specific situation.