Designing a Wild Home

How to Prevent Snowmelt From Damaging Your Foundation

Megan Wild 

In places with heavy snowfall, farmers and homesteaders need to prevent snowmelt from damaging the foundation of their homes and any outbuildings.

Snowmelt is, of course, water coming from melting snow. When snow and ice begin to melt, the water will seep into the ground. But under many conditions, including heavy snow and warm temperatures causing rapid melt, the ground can quickly become saturated. When it does, the water from snowmelt has to have somewhere to go. Unfortunately, it can go through foundations, damaging them.

It’s important to understand that foundations do not always repel all the water from snowmelt. Concrete foundations are porous. If there is too much water on the neighboring ground, water will start to go through the foundation. It can weaken the foundation itself, causing structural damage.

If snowmelt goes through your foundation repeatedly, you may have to replace the foundation, which is a lengthy and expensive process. Water going through the foundation, of course, can also damage the basement and any equipment or property stored in the basement.

Insurance companies generally don’t cover seepage from snowmelt, so you can end up paying for foundation replacement, basement repair, and replacement of damaged property out of your own pocket.

How can you prevent snowmelt from damaging your foundation? Follow these steps.

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Prevent Damage

  • Clear Snow Around the Buildings

The first and most important step in preventing snowmelt from damaging your foundation is to clear snow around all your buildings. It’s not enough just to shovel out the doors and the walkways. Experts recommend a 5-foot clearance around snow and your buildings. Keep the area shoveled at all times. Even if your area temperature is normally below freezing, a sudden warm day in the middle of December or January can start snowmelt. You want to make sure it’s far away from your foundation.

  • Fix Any Cracks in the Foundation

Inspect your foundations for cracks every spring and fall. Fix them immediately. Concrete will let some water seep through even if it’s not cracked. If it’s cracked, the water is going to seep through even faster.

  • Have a Sump Pump Ready

A sump pump can help with excess water. If you don’t currently have one, buy one. If you do have one, make sure it’s in working condition in the early fall, long before winter comes. You don’t want to have to use it in February, only to find out it needs major repair or has conked out entirely.

  • Don’t Try to Predict When Melt Will Come

You need to be prepared for snowmelt at any point after snow begins. Don’t confine your protection methods to the late winter or early spring. Some climate-change scientists predict that snowmelt will happen more slowly going forward. That is a general statement, but it may not pertain to your individual amount of snowfall and warm days. A 50-degree day in December can cause snowmelt.

  • Protect Items Stored in Basements

As part of a preventive strategy, it’s important to protect items stored in basements or next to foundations from the consequences of water coming in. Because, despite your best efforts, it may.  If you store family belongings in the basement, for example, place them on shelves so they will not be damaged by any water coming in. If you store feed on the ground in your barn, put it in waterproof containers. In a worst case scenario, you should always keep a running list of items you own and their value estimation for insurance purposes.

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How to Fix Water Damage

If you go down some morning and find water in your basement, assess where it might be coming from. Snowmelt is only one possible cause. Your pipes may have burst, or an appliance may have ceased to function.

  • Remove the Water

Whatever the cause, it’s important that the water be removed as quickly as possible. You might be tempted to extract the water yourself. It’s far more prudent to call a water damage restoration company. Even if you get rid of visible water on the floor, it may still be in your foundation, where it can cause structural damage. Moisture may also remain on the floor.

  • Check for Mold

Water left standing can cause mold within two days. Mold can be toxic. It is very hard to remove and can cause damage to the building and danger to your family’s health. A water restoration company can also check for mold and give advice on removing it.

  • Repair Any Damage

Once the area is made safe from water, you’ll need to repair any damaged areas or items. Professionals can help with this as well. It’s especially important to repair any damage that could compromise your structure or property in the future.

Snowmelt is unavoidable if you live in an area with snowfall. If there is a lot of snowmelt, it can seep into your foundation and cause structural damage. Seepage can also cause damage to the basement of your buildings. Take steps to prevent snowmelt from seeping into your foundation. If you do find seepage in the basement, call water damage restoration professionals for the best results.

Put a Fork in It, You're Done

Megan Wild 

It doesn’t matter if you live just outside of the city or if you’re far out in the countryside. From meeting your composting and canning needs, cutting and gathering firewood, seeding, planting and harvesting, livestock care and equipment management, you hardly have any time for fun or frivolity. Plus the chicken coops, don’t forget the chickens.

Because of this extensive list of to-dos, it’s important farmers and homesteaders use the best and most reliable equipment possible. On any list by an expert, no matter the length or the purpose, one of the items under suggestion may include the forklift. While usually associated with heavy construction operations, this piece of equipment can be just as useful on dirt as on concrete.

Why Buy a Forklift for the Farm?

When you think of a farm or a ranch, the first thing that comes to mind are planted crops. Crops, dirt, a large red building with white doors, and a green landscape. That’s the universal picture of agriculture, and it rarely includes anything else, at least initially. Surprisingly enough, people don’t usually think of heavy machinery when they think of farming, but homesteads often possess a number of heavy pieces of equipment in addition to industrial-sized containers and items.

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Make Basic Grunt Work Easier With a Forklift

Now you’re remembering tractors, aren’t you? Transporting heavy equipment and tools are one of the benefits of having a forklift close at hand on your farm. Work you can accomplish efficiently and effectively with the use of this particular machine includes:

• Lifting and carrying large or heavy farming tools, supplies or smaller-sized machinery

• Loading and unloading produce, bulk bags or animal feed

Alternative Use for Forklifts

This particular function of the forklift has long since been discovered in shipping ports, lumber and junkyards, open-air garden centers and even businesses that use external storage centers. Unlike their construction site counterparts, let’s call them alternative-use forklifts. They have special tires that distribute weight more evenly for the distinct terrain of farmland.

Off-Road Potential for Forklifts

You can’t just grab the first yellow vehicle from your local construction site and drive it to your homestead for use. You’ll crush any crops popping through the surface, ruin your soil and quite possibly get stuck in the mud. Rough terrain work requires the right model of forklift, one that’s adapted to the uneven and unstable nature of country landscapes. You even need the right kind of engine in order to ensure you don’t strain your equipment too heavily.

For alternative-use forklifts, the engine to beat will be diesel. Diesel engines already power a majority of farm equipment, partly because they are a greener option for agricultural use. Also, diesel engines combine efficiency, durability and performance for rough and uneven terrain use, a bonus when operating an alternative-use forklift.

Indoor Work for Forklifts

Anyone who has been to or worked at a home improvement store knows the usefulness of the forklift. Lifting and transporting pallets of items and heavy products or transporting stock materials — the forklift can do it all. If you need to work several levels higher than your legs and arms are capable of reaching, there’s a special type of platform forklift to meet that need. Thanks to the relative absence of harsh weather or uneven terrain, these particular forklifts help workers move and stack boxes and crates, and are modified with safety measures for worker safety.

Additional Uses for Forklifts on a Homestead

Other uses for your forklift, as you have undoubtedly seen the value of the machine while reading this article and have begun shopping online, include plowing snow, towing items and machines and various hay-related chores. You’re going to want to purchase the necessary add-on implements to the forklift in order to use it for these additional operations and make sure you keep your machine clean and well maintained to prevent rust or malfunction.

While purchasing or leasing a new forklift would be preferable, a used machine that’s well-kept and up-to-date can save you on shopping time and get you back to your farm work quickly.