In the Pacific Northwest, ensuring your home is ready for winter is crucial. Given the amount of rain and harsh weather your Portland or Vancouver home will receive, not doing so can be costly.

In this month’s post, we’ve outlined essential home winterization tips to keep your house dry this winter. All of these tips focus on the exterior of your home and what you can do to lengthen the life of your house.

If you would like to read about home flooring maintenance (for all seasons), read our recent Flooring Maintenance Guide.


Get Your Basement Ready for Winter

Any home winterization project should start with ensuring your basement is ready for cooler, wetter weather. Not only does the cooler weather expose your basement and home to structural damage, it could increase your energy costs, too.

A leaky basement will….

  • Create an unhealthy environment for you and your family
  • Increase energy costs
  • Damage the structure of your home
  • Cause your pipes to potentially freeze
  • Render your basement useless for storage and habitation

Signs Your Basement is Leaky

Once winter arrives, give your basement a self-inspection to see if you can find signs of leaking.

Look out for…

  • Water stains on the basement walls, floors, and ceilings
  • Pools of water congregating on the basement floor
  • A musty, moldy smell throughout the basement
  • Visible mold build up on items stored in your basement

If you notice any of these issues at the beginning of the season it will only get worse as the winter progresses and your home is exposed to more moisture.

How to Stop a Leaky Basement

Once you notice moisture in your basement, you will need to solve the issue immediately to ensure no further damage.

The three most common causes of a leaky basement are

  • Porous and cracked walls
  • Poor exterior drainage
  • Saturated soil around the foundation

The best way to stop waterproofing issues is to ensure water is not coming in contact with your basement in the first place. This means not relying on passive solutions that will only work short term, but actively routing water from your home.

The best ways to ensure your basement stays dry long term is to:

  • Install a trench, sump basin, and pump system to actively route the water away from your basement.
  • Use gutters and other water diversion methods around the base of your home.

Any experienced basement waterproofing contractor will take this approach to keep your basement dry come winter.


Cracked Foundations

Cracked foundations can lead to real problems for your home. Cracks not only exacerbate existing waterproofing issues in your basement, they can lead to structural issues too.

Cracks in your foundations can lead to…

  • Water infiltrating your basement.
  • Termite infestations in your home, causing structural damage.
  • More serious damage to your foundation if not addressed promptly.

Why is My Concrete Cracking?

All concrete will eventually crack, so a cracked foundation in and of itself does not mean your home is in immediate danger. That said, if not addressed promptly it could lead to serious problems.

Concrete cracks are generally due to one of the following issues:

  • The concrete simply “drying out” over time
  • Repeated shrinking and expanding over time due to weather
  • Changes in the ground around your foundation, causing pressure, especially from tree roots
  • The steel rebar in the foundation corroding and expanding

What Can I Do to Stop the Cracking?

At the beginning of winter, walk around your foundation and basement looking for any visible cracks. Generally, any cracks larger than 1/16 of an inch should be filled as soon as possible. Not doing so will lead to leaks in your basement or crawlspace.

Once cracks are found, call an experienced foundation repair specialist to come and fill in the hole. If you leave the crack unfilled, or do a poor job filling it in yourself, it will only get bigger.

Avoiding Cracks in A Foundation

Even if you see no cracks in your foundation now, waterproofing your foundation is the best way to avoid the issue in the future. Doing so will lessen its exposure to weather changes and dampness, meaning it will be less likely to crack in the future.


Deck & Patio Waterproofing

Many homeowners don’t think much past installation when it comes to their deck or patio. Unfortunately, given that decks are outside, they are exposed to weather just as much as your roof or siding.

Ignoring issues with your deck will be costly in the end. What starts as a little mold or a cracked plank will force a major repair, or even a replacement, down the road.

Signs Your Deck Needs Maintenance

There are a couple signs to look out for when evaluating your deck at the beginning of winter.

Look out for…

  • Rotting wood
  • Cracked concrete
  • Discoloration or mold
  • Pools of water
  • Sagging, weak, or soft spots

What Can Be Done to Help?

All of the above issues are signs of weather damage. The only way to truly stop these issues from worsening is to waterproof your deck or patio.

Deck waterproofing options include:

  • Ceramic or stone over a waterproof base. The most durable option for your patio.
  • Heat-welded PVC or Hypalon. The most durable option for your wood deck.
  • Acrylic base with cosmetic finish. A versatile and cost-effective method. Will need to be resealed every decade or so.
  • Urethane waterproof coating (the most basic option). Will need a new coating every 5-10 years.

Make sure to talk to a trusted deck and patio contractor to find the best option for your specific deck or patio.


Metal and Flat Roofs

Given the rain the Portland and Vancouver areas endure every year, making sure your roof is structurally sound and not leaking water is crucial for a safe home. This is particularly true for metal and flat roofs, as drainage can be a challenge for both.

Signs Your Roof Needs Work

During your inspection, look for damage to ensure your roof is still waterproof or draining correctly.

Things to look for

  • Dripping water in your home
  • Sagging spots on your roof
  • Mold on your roof or home

Any of these signs likely means it’s time to look for ways to improve the waterproofing of your roof.

What Can You Do?

Make sure to…

  • Remove all debris and branches from your roof. Debris and branches can cause any existing drainage paths to block, making water pool even more.
  • Trim dead branches from above your roof. These can fall over the course of the winter and cause damage.
  • Inspect your roof early in the fall to ensure none of the above signs of a faulty roof appear.

If you notice damage, it is likely time to look into waterproofing your roof.

For roofing projects, we always recommend using experienced roofing contractors, given the importance of roofs in keeping your home safe.

For metal roofs, we recommend the Acrylic Elastomeric method, which completely seals your roof.

For flat roofs, we recommend…

  • Acrylic Elastomeric Coating with Embedded Fabric. Ideal for various and unusual shapes on the roof.
  • Hypalon Synthetic Rubber. Has been in place on roofs for almost 50 years without a major leak.
  • PVC. The most basic option for waterproofing, it is a great intermediate solution for a leaky flat roof


Make Sure Your Home is Ready for Winter

Rock Solid Waterproofing can make sure your home stays dry. We know winters in the Pacific Northwest can be brutal, and have experience keeping water out of homes during our area’s harsh winters.

Give us a call at (360) 887-0421 or contact us online to get started today.