Michigan's wide temperature range creates many small freeze-thaw cycles that wreak havoc on our roads and homes. While weather impacts many facets of daily life, many people don't know how harmful extreme temperature fluctuations can be for your foundation.
The science behind it:
As the temperature in our Michigan climate rapidly decreases, the foundation of your home and the ground will contract. The contracting process leaves a space between your home's foundation and the ground and the resulting space creates a quicker route for water to enter any cracks in your foundation.
Snow, rain or groundwater can seep into the foundation through various entry points, including these tiny cracks and crevices. As this water settles and freezes, it expands and exerts pressure on the foundation material exacerbating the existing cracks or even creating new ones.
"Water is the only known non-metallic substance that expands when it freezes; its density decreases and it expands approximately 9% by volume." - LPI
Simultaneously, as the cold persists, the moisture within the foundation attempts to escape through evaporation. However, this process can be disrupted by the freezing temperatures, leading to uneven evaporation rates. Uneven evaporation leaves behind moisture in certain areas, which can further weaken the foundation material.
The repeated process of freezing and melting water within small crevices in a rock or a materials surface is known as ice wedging according to American Geosciences Institute.
Constant cycles of freezing and thawing amplifies all of these issues, creating a cycle of continuous damage that escalates over time.
Combat foundation damage in Michigan
To combat these problems, it's imperative to take preventive measures such as insulating the foundation, repairing any existing cracks, and ensuring proper drainage systems are in place.
Regular inspections, especially before the onset of colder seasons, can help identify vulnerabilities and address them proactively.