winter freeze

Did the Winter Freeze Cause a Foundation Problem? How Will I Know?

You have experienced the Texas 2021 Winter Snowpocalypse, it was a tough and cold week for most of us across the state. Maybe you had some pipes freeze or were without power for quite some time. Maybe you dripped faucets . . . a lot. But now you are wondering, did the snowpocalypse cause an apocalypse of problems for my foundation?

We know you have questions about how the recent freezing weather may have affected your foundation because you are seeing an avalanche of new issues around your home. Things like tile popping, long drywall seams appearing, crown molding separation or even noises in the walls that sound like your home is shifting somehow. It’s freaking you out because you are not sure what is happening and what to do next.

Anchor Foundation Repair

Anchor Foundation Repair has been serving the Bryan-College Station area for the past 35+ years. We’ve seen and repaired thousands of foundation problems over the years, but this unusual freeze situation is a new one for all of us around here. Hey, we haven’t lived through it before either so there are honestly things we don’t know.

Even though the recent prolonged freeze was a once-in-great-while weather event, there are a few things we DO KNOW to be true that can help you feel empowered in this situation. Let’s take a look at some things to consider about your foundation and the recent extreme weather.

Frost Heave and Wet Soil Heave Have Similar Effects on Your Foundation

We live in an area dominated by expansive clay soils and this soil type is affected by wet and dry conditions. It expands or heaves in rainy seasons and shrinks or contracts in dry seasons.

Frozen water and liquid water both have a similar effect on expansive clay soils. Water present in the ground will expand when it freezes in cold weather. Just like when you freeze bottled water or a canned drink at home and the bottle or can bulges out, pops open, or if it’s in a glass container it might crack.

foundation repair BCS

This same expansion concept is happening in the ground during a freeze. The water in the ground expands upon freezing and causes “frost heave” forces to act upon your foundation. BUT in this case, it’s only happened this one time, it doesn’t happen year after year continuously for this area of Texas.

Also, even though it felt like an eternal freeze, it was realistically about a week of constant below-freezing temperatures. We do like to be dramatic in Texas, don’t we? Frost heave has more impact when the ground freezes and thaws many times within a season and we just had the one event.

How Pipe Leaks Affect Your Foundation

Broken pipes and water leaks can cause a special variety of plumbing-related foundation problems. Usually, these are associated with long-term leaks over many years and involve the drain lines under your home. Also, the type of foundation you have will be a factor.

It’s unlikely that drain lines under a slab-on-grade foundation were affected by the freeze because it probably didn’t get cold enough under your home.

drain lines

Under a crawlspace home, like a pier and beam or block and base style foundation, pipes (probably supply lines) under the home that were not well insulated could have ruptured. But the amount of time that flowing water was under your home was likely not enough to cause a foundation problem so quickly.

Foundation problems happen over time and with recurring stresses on the foundation caused by expansive clay soils. Even if it got really wet under or near your home for a bit, it’s not enough for a one-time event to cause sudden foundation problems.

It’s Too Soon to Tell If the Freeze Caused Foundation Problems

Even if frost heave or a pipe leak has occurred with your foundation or home this year, typically, foundation settlement does not occur as a result of a one-time event. 

time to call Anchor Foundation Repair

Foundation settlement happens through a gradual series of events over many years. One earthquake, one freeze, or one heavy rain will not instantly cause catastrophic failure of your foundation in this area of Texas.

Prolonged drought, years of extreme rainy and dry seasons, cyclic effects of expansive clay soils, gravity over time, and poor construction are more likely to cause foundation problems. These foundation issues will appear slowly over time rather than suddenly and all at once.

You Can Watch for True Signs of Foundation Problems Over Time

No matter what forces have been acting on your home, whether it’s freeze, drought, or rain brought on by hurricanes, the true signs are still the same if you have a foundation problem.

As a good ol’ boy from Texas, I may not know cold weather. But I do know about our soil and how it brings about certain cues around the home that point to settlement and ones that don’t.

The most common signs of foundation issues are:

  1. Diagonal Cracks on Interior Walls
  2. Exterior Brick Cracks
  3. Doors Sticking or Not Latching
  4. Gapping or Separation of Exterior Trim
  5. Movement of Wood Trim and Other Inside Fixtures
true signs of foundation settlement

Many homeowners might also be seeing false signs of foundation issues around their homes after this extreme freeze. The changes in temperature, humidity, and altered heating patterns throughout the home can bring about and reveal other problems that are not foundation-related.

False signs have their root cause in workmanship, age, climate conditions, and normal expected behavior of materials over time. Minor and perfectly normal home settling can combine with these root causes to bring about the visual cues that homeowners start to think are major foundation failures but are not.

We have an article that covers both the true signs and false signs of foundation problems so that you can verify whether the symptoms you are seeing are foundation-related or something else.

Even If the Freeze Did Cause Foundation Settlement, It’s Better to Wait a Bit

Do you really want to rush right out and spend money fixing some foundation settlement that isn’t causing a true problem just yet? I wouldn’t if I were you.

We don’t recommend rushing to repair. I know it seems strange for a foundation repair company to tell you that we don’t want to repair your foundation, but we’re not your average repair contractor.

Anchor Foundation Repair has been serving the Brazos Valley area for two generations and our trustworthy reputation in the community is vitally important to us. We will be the first to tell you if we think it’s better to wait on foundation repair and we are doing that now.

make a wise decision about foundation repair
Slow your roll on this one.

With an unusual event like this 2021 freeze that none of us have experienced, we feel like it’s better to hold off and watch and make a wise decision later on when you feel ready for it. Or at the very least, have the time to save for the cost of foundation repair.

We have other articles that give reasons to wait as well as reasons to not wait if you want to further organize your thoughts on the situation going on in your home. We want you to feel confident in your next steps and these will give you the tools to make it through without feeling a rush to decide.