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Your Home Environment Resource - University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Household Hints & HELP!

Melting Snow

submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appeared in the February 15, 2004 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.

First it was snow, snow, snow, now it is melt, melt, melt. Many people are asking what do I do with all this melting snow? Melting snow gives the moisture that is needed but may also cause problems.

Seepage or leakage problems most often occur in the basement or crawl spaces when snow and ice are melting and when frost is beginning to leave the ground. It can also occur during heavy rains. Seepage is the movement of groundwater through the basement walls. It may appear as a damp spot in an isolated area or in many spots. Leakage is the movement of groundwater through the wall. Entry for leakage is water through cracks or joints in the wall. Where as, with seepage the water comes through pores in the wall material.

In order for either of these conditions to happen the water near the basement foundation wall must be wet or saturated. There is usually a weak spot where water infiltration can occur. The problem can occur when there has been a drought and the soil next to the foundation has pulled away leaving cracks that will fill with water as the snow melts. It is important to keep the area around downspouts clean so water can run freely away from the foundation as it melts from the roof and gutters.

If you have a problem of water getting into your home it is necessary to clean it up immediately so mold doesn’t have a chance to grow. First, try to locate the source of the problem and correct the problem as much as possible at the time. Next, start the cleanup process. If there is a large amount of water it may be necessary to use a wet-dry vac or get professional help in getting it cleaned up. For small leaks you may be able to absorb the water with large towels, etc. or place a towel where the leak is to catch the water. Dry the area with fans. Hard surfaces will be easier and faster to clean than porous or carpeted areas. If you have had problems with water in the past be sure to check the areas often during this melting time.

Areas to check even if you haven’t had problems before would be window wells, corners, behind and under furniture or items against the walls. Also check closets and storage rooms in the basement areas.

Check around the outside of your home. Clean snow off patios, decks and other areas where it may have collected. Clean the area around the downspouts so they can drain and provide a way for water to run away from the house. If you have a lot of ice and snow on the roof, watch for water leaking through the ceiling or inside the walls due to an ice dam and causing damage in the attic or already coming through to the ceiling.

Remember, spring and summer are going to be here soon and we’ll appreciate the moisture and wish for some of the cold weather we’ve had this winter.

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