How to Keep Your Basement Dry during the Winter in Maryland and Virginia

As the cool autumn weather gradually gives way to the freezing winter, you have a limited time to prepare your home and basement for the snowy weather ahead. Temperature drops and melting snow can wreak havoc on your foundation and basement, and the damage could cost you thousands of dollars. If you are in Maryland and Virginia, you know that winter can be harsh and damage your basement. But Braswell Waterproofing is here to help keep your basement dry during winter.

Part of the problem can be solved by waterproofing your basement. Here are valuable tips to protect your basement during the winter.

  1. Keep the Snow Away

No, we don’t mean shovel around your foundation. However, we recommend you pile snow away from your home’s foundation when removing snow from your sidewalk, patio, and driveway. This aids in draining snowmelt away from your foundation rather than toward it.

  1. Keep ice and debris out of stairwell and window well drains.

Similarly, if you have an exterior basement door at the bottom of an open stairwell, you will need to clear the area of snow, ice, and piles of leaves. Leaves and other debris can clog the drain, allowing water to enter your basement through the doorway.

  • Consider adding door or window well covers to the exterior stairwell or window well. This will help keep rain, sleet, and snow from directly falling into the stairwell or window. 
  • Although the wind will continue to blow rain and frozen precipitation into these areas, the covers will reduce the overall amount. If the drain is extremely small, consider enlarging it.
  1. Gutter cleaning and downspout extension.

While gutters are not a part of the basement or crawl space, they are a common water source in these areas. When gutters become clogged, water can overflow and pool near the house. Hydrostatic pressure can force water into the basement or crawl space via cracks or gaps when the ground adjacent to the foundation becomes saturated.

  • Plan to clean the gutters twice a year to remove leaves and debris in the spring and fall. If there are pine trees or a lot of foliage around the house, consider cleaning them more frequently, and cleaning the gutters before winter helps to prevent ice and water buildup, which can damage the roof and siding. There are several methods for cleaning gutters, but most necessitate using special equipment, and almost all necessitate using a ladder. If this does not appeal to you, hire a contractor to clean your gutters.
  • Install gutter guards to keep leaves and debris out of the gutters.
  • Downspouts should be extended at least 4 feet away from the house to prevent water from entering the basement or crawl space. If downspout extensions are required, hire a waterproofing professional to install them.
  1. Repair foundation cracks

Water from melting ice and snow can enter the basement or crawl space through foundation cracks. Small cracks can expand due to freezing and thawing. Foundation cracks should be sealed to keep water and moisture out and to prevent damage and mould growth. Crack injection is a popular DIY short-term repair method. However, most DIY injection repairs fail over time due to poor adhesion or a broken seal. In the winter, freezing and thawing can cause foundation movement. When this occurs, the epoxy may crack.

  • Hire a basement waterproofer to repair minor cracks in the basement walls. To maintain a seal over the wall crack, the FlexiSpan basement wall crack repair system employs a flexible sealant, porous foam, and an impermeable membrane that flexes.
  • A qualified foundation repair contractor should inspect cracks larger than 1/4-inch wide or bowing walls. Many Basement Systems experts offer foundation repair services in addition to winterizing and waterproofing.
  1. Prevent the discharge of the sump pump from freezing. 

When water from melted snow and rain accumulates in the sump pit, it is normal for a sump pump to run. When this happens, the discharge line must be clear to allow the water to exit the basement or crawl space. Snow and ice can clog buried discharge lines in the winter, preventing water from flowing through the hose. If the sump pump discharge hose freezes, it has to work harder, which can cause it to overheat and fail.

  • When the temperatures begin to drop, one of the most common questions from sump pump owners is, “How do I keep my sump pump discharge from freezing?” “Although disconnecting the sump pump hose is an option, failing to reconnect it can result in a flooded basement or crawl space.”
  • Install an “anti-freeze” device to keep water from freezing or clogging the discharge line. Inquire about incorporating an “anti-freeze” device into your basement or crawl space waterproofing system with your local waterproofing contractor.
  1. Seal Ducts

Exposed ductwork in an uninsulated basement or crawl space will have the same temperature as the unconditioned space’s air. In the winter, the cold ducts cool the warm air inside the ducts, and this causes the furnace to run longer and makes it harder to heat the air. One of the most significant causes of high heating and cooling bills is leaking ducts. 

  • Seal and insulate basement or crawl space ducts to increase comfort, save energy, prevent condensation, and improve indoor air quality.
  • If the ducts and the foundation walls are uninsulated, consider insulating the foundation walls. Water pipes in an uninsulated basement or crawl space can freeze and burst in the winter if the ducts are not insulated because there is no heat source to keep the pipes from freezing in cold weather. Hire an insulation contractor with the experience to seal and insulate ducts and add wall insulation.

Why Insulate Your Basement?

You may be hesitant to insulate your basement if you use it as an extended living space. Isn’t it pointless to heat an area where you don’t spend much time? Wrong. Hiring insulation contractors to insulate your basement is a good idea. Because the average basement loses a significant amount of heat, insulating it can directly impact your energy bills and comfort.

Maintain Moisture Control

Moisture is the enemy of your home. Your concrete foundation contains several thousand pounds of water at any given time (or more if it is freshly poured). Groundwater and rain seep into the concrete over time. While an asphalt exterior coating is frequently used to keep the interior dry, even minor cracks can allow water to enter. Adding insulation inside and outside your home can prevent costly damage by controlling moisture with waterproof materials such as a vapor barrier.

Defend Against Freeze Damage

Water is one of many enemies to be concerned about in your basement. Concrete, brick, rubble mortar, and other basement materials are also vulnerable to freeze damage. The freeze-thaw cycle can be harsh on your foundation, resulting in cracks. If moisture enters your basement, any water will freeze in the winter, causing additional damage. You won’t have to worry about freezing once you’ve solved the water problem. Insulating your basement can also keep it warmer and less susceptible to freeze damage.

Comply with New Building Codes

If you remodel your basement, you will need to insulate it for warmth and energy efficiency. You will also need to adhere to local building codes. When insulating a basement, most new building codes require a specific R-Value. According to Virginia code, R-10 continuous insulation is acceptable for basement walls. If the insulation is to be installed between the framing members, R-13 is required. If you are still determining the best type of insulation and R-Value for your basement remodelling project, consult a professional insulation contractor who will point you in the right direction.

Make an Effective Fire Barrier

The use of materials between the top plate of the exterior wall and the masonry wall is known as fire blocking. This procedure is used to keep flames and smoke from spreading to the first floor in the event of a basement fire. The blockade is usually made of wood or drywall and works by “starving” the fire by reducing the amount of combustible oxygen. Insulation contractors can then install fire-rated insulation in the walls to improve energy efficiency while posing no fire risk.

Reduce Noise and Block Sounds

You probably want to keep any noise in the basement away from your main living areas, whether it’s a noisy furnace or kids playing in the basement. Certain types of insulation can be installed to help block sounds and reduce noise. Soundproofing insulation materials include fiberglass, cellulose, and foam—these types of insulation help to facilitate noise transfer between rooms and levels of your home. Because cellulose and fiberglass insulation can be installed on floors, ceilings, and walls, they are a versatile option for homeowners looking for soundproofing without breaking the bank.

Reduce your use of energy.

One of the most noticeable benefits of insulating a basement is lower energy consumption. Insulation acts as a protective layer, shielding your home from temperature fluctuations. Insulation added to the walls and ceiling helps regulate indoor temperatures, lowering your energy bills. When your home is professionally insulated, your heating and cooling systems will run more efficiently, lowering your utility bills. Because your units do not have to work as hard to maintain a comfortable temperature, you can expect your HVAC system to last longer.

Improve Indoor Comfort

Basement insulation contractors Basement insulation works by preventing heat loss. As a result, your home can maintain a more comfortable temperature all year. Insulation keeps heat in during the winter and cools the air during the summer. Insulation allows homeowners to keep their homes at a more consistent temperature, which can help them avoid cold spots or uneven heating in different rooms. This has a direct impact on the efficiency of your home. Your HVAC system can work less demanding to keep your home comfortable with a more regulated indoor temperature.

Preventing Pipe Freezing

While not as familiar as other issues caused by an uninsulated basement, pipes can freeze if the space becomes too cold. Many homeowners do not heat their basements, which can lead to the freezing of exposed pipes. Installing insulation instead of wrapping the lines to keep them from freezing is a more efficient and long-term solution. Tubes can also be insulated with foam pipe insulation, which is usually sufficient to keep pipes from freezing in moderately cold climates. If your basement pipes have previously frozen, it is most likely due to insufficient or improperly installed insulation. If you do not address the issue, it will most likely reoccur when the weather turns cold.


People are taken aback when their basements flood or leak. We know it snows and rains all the time, but we don’t consider how our foundations can deteriorate over time. Protect your investment and family before foundation damage and water-logged possessions occur. For all your foundation repair needs in Virginia, Maryland, and the surrounding area, contact the waterproofing experts at Braswell Waterproofing.

Consider all of the advantages of basement insulation when deciding whether or not to insulate your basement. Insulating your basement is a one-time cost that can have long-term benefits, such as a warmer home and lower energy costs. Braswell Waterproofing provides expert insulation installation services. In addition to superior products, our insulation contractors offer exceptional customer service. Contact us today to learn more about basement insulation or to set up a consultation.

Braswell Waterproofing is now DMV Foundation Solutions - same great service, new name!


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